Facebook Extends Their Platform

An announcement by Facebook late on Friday spotlights how they are attempting to stay ahead of the curve in exploiting the social graph, and in doing so, to make their version of your friend's list the default one that is used across the web. The key is this new JavaScript library that makes it easier for developers to to make Facebook API calls directly from JavaScript from any web site, not just when running on the Facebook Platform:

This JavaScript client Library allows you to make Facebook API calls from any web site and makes it easy to create Ajax Facebook applications. Since the library does not require any server-side code on your server, you can now create a Facebook application that can be hosted on any web site that serves static HTML...This applies to either iframe Facebook apps that users access through the Facebook web site or apps that users access directly on the app’s own web sites. Almost all Facebook APIs are supported.

Along with allowing individual developers conversant in Ajax to bring Facebook friends into their website's User Experience, as John Potter points out, it opens up a role for third-party developers to craft Facebook-friendly widgets that are easily dropped into blogs and sites that don't have any Facebook programming experience. The release of this library caused a fair amount of buzz over the weekend from folks including Nick O'Neill, Dare Obasanjo, Jeremiah Owyang, Duncan Riley, and Search Engine Watch.

Recent moves in data portability and OpenSocial-style compatibility suggest that we are moving towards an environment that allows some form of opt-in sharing between elements of the social graph, and Facebook wants to make sure that it is easier to identify your groups of friends by starting with their version. The Function of allowing you to organize your friends into groups (family, close friends, business acquaintances, etc.) that was added in December is also a step towards making your control over your social graph easier, and adding lock-in to the Facebook data.

Be sure to read the next Widgets article: New YouTube API Means YouTube Anywhere