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13 Power User Tips for OpenSocial Developers


By David Ciccarelli

November 4, 2007

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MyVoice OpenSocial Application
Hold on to your hat OpenSocial Developers. Despite all the buzz surrounding OpenSocial, access to the Orkut Sandbox ( your soon-to-be testing ground ) is limited to a handful of developers. But, there's no need to sit idle. Put your name on the waiting list, and then plan your killer OpenSocial app.

Google OpenSocial Review

As you likely have heard, Google has launched OpenSocial that provides a common set of APIs ( Definition: The common code shared among platforms and developers of mini-applications ) for social applications across multiple websites.

Orkut Sandbox

Like you, we're ready to roll, however at this point, our name is on a list of developers who will soon be gaining access to the Orkut Sandbox and all aspects of the OpenSocial APIs. If you are thinking of building an app in the near term, I'd recommend signing up to play in the Orkut Sandbox.

To keep busy this weekend, I found myself reading blogs, watching videos, reviewing spec sheets and API documentation. When the door is open, I'm ready.

Power User Tips for OpenSocial Developers

1. Bookmark the OpenSocial Website
You'll find yourself going back here quite a bit, so you might as well bookmark it now.

2. Catch up on the News
Take 15-30 minutes to read through the news and stories to understand exactly what OpenSocial is. TechCrunch initially broke the story, John Battelle published an early version of the press release and the New York Times give more background.

3. Watch a Video: Google Campfire One

4. Watch Another Video: Canter on OpenSocial and the Starfish
Robert Scoble interviews Mark Canter on the business, technology and politics of OpenSocial.

5. Write Down Your Ideas
Steven Covey says, start with the end in mind, so jot down your ideas and they'll help direct where you're heading. Create a simple plan that defines the W5s and 1H of your application.

• Who will use your application?
• What will it do?
• Where will people find your application?
• When will it be ready?
• Why will it benefit the use?
• How will it be different, more useful, more engaging than other applications?

6. Build a Team
If you're working with a few other developers, bring them up to speed. Let them know your ideas and get them excited. If you need to present your ideas for executive approval, direct them to Jeremiah Owyang's post entitled " Explaining OpenSocial to your Executives" which defines all the jargon and emphasized the business potential of a successful OpenSocial application. Finally, should you be working along, you can skip this step.

7. Review the OpenSocial API Documentation
Time to get your hands dirty. There's not avoiding this one, so better now than when 100,000 other developers have beaten you to the punch. Take your time on the JavaScript API and the OpenSocial Data APIs.

8. Browse over the OpenSocial FAQs
Just in case you missed something, these FAQs cover it all.

9. How To Build Your First OpenSocial Application
Ready to start coding? This article contains code snippets and Read this article gives examples of code snippets and explanations of basic requests using OpenSocial.

10. Get To Know the Best Practices for Design
As Google says, "once you learn the API, this article will help you design an OpenSocial application that will thrive." Check out these 9 tips for designing engaging applications.

11. How To Read and Write Shared Social Data
Learn the basics of storing data using OpenSocial.

12. Build a Mock-Up
Start on paper if you wish, or use your favorite image editor to sketch out a basic design concept.

13. Get Feedback
Show your friends what you've created. Explain to them who will use the app and how it will benefit them. Ask for suggestions to the design, logic and overall usability. Even the people who have little knowledge of social networking, Web 2.0 and the likes will have valuable insight.

Good luck!

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