Social Applications in the Cloud: OpenSocial and Google App Engine

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - 17:30
TH 331
Patrick Chanezon, Google

OpenSocial is an open specification defining a common API that works on many different social websites, including MySpace, Plaxo, Hi5, Ning, orkut, and LinkedIn, among others. This allows developers to learn one API, then write a social application for any of those sites: Learn once, write anywhere.

In addition, in order to make it easier for developers of social sites to implement the API and make their site an OpenSocial container, the Apache project Shindig provides reference implementations for OpenSocial containers in two languages (Java, PHP). Shindig will define a language specific Service Provider Interface (SPI) that a social site can implement to connect Shindig to People, Persistence and Activities backend services for the social site. Shindig will then expose these services as OpenSocial JavaScript and REST APIs.

In this session we will explain what OpenSocial is, show examples of OpenSocial containers and applications, demonstrate how to create an OpenSocial application, and explain how to leverage Apache Shindig in order to implement an OpenSocial container.

Google App Engine is a Cloud Computing service exposing Google's scalable infrastructure (GFS, BigTable) to developers, in Python. Google App Engine lets you host complete, scalable web applications written in Python with minimal fuss. This tutorial assumes basic familiarity with Python but definitely no advanced Python knowlege; Django experience is optional. You will learn how to use the Django web framework with the datastore API provided by Google App Engine to create an OpenSocial application backend.

Simple OpenSocial applications can be built without any server side logic, leveraging the OpenSocial persistence API. For more complex applications requiring server side logic, many developers choose to use their own server. As their applications spread virally and become more successful, these developers end up spending most of their time making their applications scale instead of adding new features.

Cloud computing services can provide a solution to these problems. This session will explain how to build an OpenSocial application with server side business logic, on top of Google App Engine, using makeRequest to make digitally signed calls to your server side logic.


Patrick Chanezon is API Evangelist at Google since 2005. These days his main interests are the OpenSocial API and social software, Google APIs, REST and Ajax, Ruby, Javascript, Java, PHP, and Python. Previously he has been working on portals, blogs and syndication feeds at Sun Microsystems, AOL and Netscape. He's the co-founder of the ROME - Atom and RSS utilities in java open source project. More on his blog at Patrick is french, so he takes long vacations in the summer and likes to drink red wine with baguette and stinky cheese while wearing a beret. Apart from programming and reading books his main interest in life is spending time with his wife and 3 kids.