LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, has taken the long-awaited step of releasing a set of APIs so that developers can build applications to customize the experience on the site.
The 11 APIs will enable third parties to incorporate features from LinkedIn on their sites, enabling visitors to access their profiles and send messages to their contacts, as well as a LinkedIn search feature that developers will be able to embed on external sites.
LinkedIn is also offering a menu of embeddable widgets, which allow site operators to build some of the social network’s most popular features into their own Web properties with a minimal amount of coding.
The developer platform builds on several partnerships LinkedIn has struck with major enterprise IT players to integrate its service into the flow of the workplace. LinkedIn has teamed with IBM for a Lotus collaboration, RIM for a version of the site designed for the BlackBerry, and with Microsoft for an Outlook tie-in.
In the social arena, LinkedIn also recently collaborated with Twitter to integrate the content of those two sites.
“Professionals around the world use a wide variety of applications and Web sites to get their work done, and they have spoken loud and clear that they want the ability to leverage their professional networks wherever they work,” Adam Nash, vice president of search and platform products at LinkedIn, said in a blog post explaining the API.
LinkedIn’s platform makes good on the promise the company’s founders made two years ago when they announced their intention to open an API to developers.
Among the startups already tapping into the new LinkedIn API is TweetDeck, which will enable users to set up a LinkedIn column in their dashboards in the upcoming version. Similarly, messaging service Posterous is inviting users to share their posts in status updates on LinkedIn.
The API runs on the OAuth standard, which offers a common framework that supports applications written in numerous languages.
Developers are invited to apply for the API kit at LinkedIn’s developer network page.
LinkedIn currently boasts about 52 million members.