Facebook invites developers to take closer look

3 Jun 2008

It has been a year since Facebook opened its doors to third-party developers, marking the introduction of outside applications sitting on the site, as well as an increased volume of users and traffic.

The social networking site has taken this one step further by making the Facebook platform itself open-source, essentially allowing developers to look at the bricks and mortar that support the site and play around with it.

“As a starting point, we’re open-sourcing a significant part of Facebook Platform, including most of the code that runs Facebook Platform plus implementations of many of the most-used methods and tags,” said Facebook staff member, Ami Vora, on the Facebook’s Developers site.

“We’ve built in extensibility points, so you can add functionality to Facebook Open Platform like your own tags and API methods.

“We’re also hoping you use Facebook Open Platform in ways we’ve never thought of – just as you showed off your creativity with Facebook Platform, we hope this lets you be creative with the foundation of the platform itself,” he added.

Why has Facebook gone open source? Well it worked for them last year when they allowed third-party developers in and Google soon followed with the introduction of Open Social – which tied the search engine giant in with competing sites such as Bebo, LinkedIn and MySpace.

The new Friend Connect from Google – one line of code that allows users to embed ‘social’ functionality into any website – has announced Google as a serious competitor to Facebook. However, Facebook may be able to stay one step ahead if it hands out code to developers and waits to see what innovative ideas they come back with.

Developer-wise at least, Facebook has the strongest amount of interest, with 24,000 applications already built for the platform. This amounts to an addition of 140 per day in comparison to the 2,000 applications that OpenSocial said had been developed in total for its platform.

By Marie Boran