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Russell Beattie asks Obvious Question 2.0

Saturday, November 3, 2007 by Dave Winer.

Russ asks: Where's the OpenSocial container API? Permalink to this paragraph

I love Russ because he cuts through all the BS and gets right to the core, most basic question, and he doesn't care who he pisses off. That's my kind of developer. You can't lie to the compiler, when the bits hit the road, you gotta know what garbage goes in and what garbage comes out.  Permalink to this paragraph

(Ahh programmer's humor!) Permalink to this paragraph

In other words, suppose I wanted to compete with Google, MySpace, Plaxo and LinkedIn, well, where's the spec that shows me how to do that? Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named worstApiEver.gifWell, of course I don't know, they aren't communicating with riffraff like me, but I have some experience with this kind of stuff, so I can hazard a guess. If they publish a spec,all kinds of projects will likely get started to enable the API in (just for the sake of argument): Drupal, WordPress, Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, Scripting News (why not add widgets to a random blog), CNN, The New York Times, well you get the idea. There might be lots of implementations very quickly. And that would be it for changes. It would be frozen de facto, they'd have to live with what they have, which given how quickly it was thrown together, probably isn't very good. Not the kind of stuff you'd like to support for the next decade or two. Permalink to this paragraph

Or maybe they would break everyone, something guaranteed to make them a lot of enemies, much the way Microsoft did, and they were good at migration of APIs.  Permalink to this paragraph

Google is good at doing AJAXy web UIs, they make users happy, but they're not very good at APIs. This one is a loser, for sure. That's the answer to Russ's question. It's probably not malice that keeps them from releasing details to everyone outside their club, it's pragmatism. They have to try to hold on to it to keep it from becoming even more of a mess than it already is. Permalink to this paragraph

Just my opinion, for what it's worth. I've been wrong many times before.  Permalink to this paragraph

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