Borrowing a page from Sun's Java playbook, Google is announcing a way for programmers to build social applications for multiple Web sites at once.
Google's version of this "write once run anywhere" concept is called OpenSocial, a set of common application programming interfaces (APIs) that will enable developers to create applications for social networks, blogs and any Web sites that accept the OpenSocial code. Currently, developers have to write new programs for each site, even if the functionality will be the same on each site.
This initiative "marks the first time that multiple social networks have been made accessible under a common API," according to a Google statement.
This announcement illustrates how Google is courting developers and possibly attempting to outdo Facebook in openness. Facebook opened up its platform to developers in June and the site was immediately flooded with all sorts of useful and not-so-useful apps. Google, Yahoo and others have been heavily espousing the beauty of open platforms and making moves to that end.
Not surprisingly, Facebook, which recently reportedly chose Microsoft over Google for an exclusive ad and investment deal, is not one of the OpenSocial-enabled sites.
Google's social network, Orkut, is among the sites that will accept apps written using OpenSocial APIs, as is LinkedIn, hi5, Ning, Friendster and Plaxo. Other partners include iLike, Slide, Oracle and Salesforce.com.
A Google representative would not say whether Google had talked to Facebook and MySpace about joining the initiative or comment on why they were not involved.
The OpenSocial resources for developers and Web sites will be available at code.google.com/apis/opensocial.