RealTime IT News

MySpace Unveils Developer Platform

MySpace plans to celebrate the launch of its Developer Platform Site today with a gala event at its new San Francisco offices, offering developers a sandbox full of APIs to develop and test their widgets, before they become available to the public a month later.

"The goals for the platform at this point are to make sure that developers have all the information they need to start really developing" a robust stack of applications in advance of the public rollout in March, said Kyle Brinkman, vice president and general manager of MySpace's developer platform.

That way, when MySpace users first access the Application Gallery next month, it will already be populated with thousands of tested, secure widgets they can add to their pages, Brinkman told InternetNews.com.

In addition to being listed in the gallery, each widget will have a profile page, so users will be able to "befriend" applications. Users will be able to embed applications on their pages so all their friends can see them, or keep them invisible so they are only for their own use.

MySpace formally announced that it would create a "sandbox" for developers in October, following on the tremendous success that its smaller but faster-growing rival Facebook has enjoyed with its own platform.

Last week, the company opened its developer site for pre-registration, promising a live test environment to work out the bugs. MySpace will support third-party efforts with a blog to provide news, product updates and the opportunity to interact with its own development team. Additionally, outside developers will be able to talk with each other on a forum section of the site.

The tools that MySpace is giving its developers fall into three categories: OpenSocial APIs with specific MySpace extensions for JavaScript and HTML applications; action scripts to enable flash to run with APIs; and a RESTful (DEFINE:REST) back end for server-to-server communication to accelerate processing speeds.

The platform site will take all comers, from independent developers to large companies, and Brinkman said that the thousands of pre-registrations that MySpace has already processed run the spectrum.

At this point, security is the only reason why MySpace would block a developer from placing a widget on the site. "The only thing we're going to be screening for is a security review," Brinkman said. In advance of the public launch, MySpace will scan every application for malicious code.

Once the platform goes live, MySpace might not be able to come through the code of every widget developers submit, but it will deploy a new security tool developed by Google to safeguard against malicious applications. The product is called Caja, and Brinkman described it as a "JavaScript sanitizer."

The MySpace development platform will be a coming out party for Caja; Google expects the tool to guarantee trusted content of third-party applications on sites across the social Web.

The goal is to ensure security without watering down the functionality of JavaScript -- the "lingua franca of Web applications," Brinkman said.

Applications will be governed by the same privacy controls that are in place for members," MySpace CTO Aber Whitcomb said in a statement. "An application will never have access to information that cannot be found on any member's profile page," he added, taking care to point out that MySpace would not engage in the behavioral tracking that Facebook built into its controversial Beacon ad program.

However, monetization is an important part of MySpace's long-awaited developer platform. At first, developers will have to place ads themselves on the "canvas," or primary page of their application, keeping 100 percent of the revenues themselves. Soon after the widgets go live, Brinkman said that MySpace will offer developers its own HyperTargeting and SelfServe applications to help monetize their widgets through managed ad inventory, with MySpace taking a slice of the revenue.

Following today's developer event in San Francisco, MySpace will hold similar kickoff rallies in London and Berlin.