Google opens Google+ up for developers

Want to develop an application for Google's new social network Google+? Google has just opened its Application Programming Interfaces for developers.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Questions about Google's new social network real name policies aside, I quite like Google+. One of the things I like about it, in stark contrast to Facebook, is that Google+ lets you access and back-up your personal data. Now Google has taken it one step further: The company has opened up some of Google+'s Application Programming Interfaces.

On Google+, appropriately enough, Chris Chabot, a Google developer advocate, announced "I'm super excited about how the Google+ project brings the richness and nuance of real life sharing to software, and today we're announcing our first step towards bringing this to your apps as well by launching the Google+ public data APIs."

Chabot continued, "These APIs allow you to retrieve the public profile information and public posts of the Google+ users, and they lay the foundation for us to build on together - Nothing great is ever built in a vacuum so I'm excited to start the conversation about what the Google+ platform should look like."

So excitement aside, what's the story with these APIs? A quick look at the Google+ Developers site reveals that we're still in the early stages here. The sites states that "This initial set [of APIs] is focused on providing read access to public data. We'll be adding more APIs over time to build on this foundation and help you create more types of integrations"

It continues, "This initial release is intended for feedback and learning-they are restricted to a courtesy usage quota and some functionality is disabled. This should provide enough access for you to check out the APIs and to start integrating Google+ with your apps."

The Google APIs Client Libraries are available as betas for .NET, Java, PHP, and Python. For those developers are a little braver, they're also available as alpha code for the Google Web Toolkit, Objective C and Ruby.

What can you do with it at this point? In another posting, Chabot wrote, "This initial API release is focused on public data only--it lets you read information that people have shared publicly on Google+." When you access this data it's sent to you in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) encoded format.

Chabot continued, "Because we're starting with public data only, you simply need to register your app before making requests. And if you aren't yet sure which Google+ user is running your app (for example, because they're installing it for the first time), then you can use the new plus.me OAuth2 [a security protocol that enables users to grant third-party access to their web resources without sharing their passwords]-scope to ask the user who they are."

In addition, Chabot states that "Our API methods are RESTful [REpresentational State Transfer] HTTP requests which return JSON responses." And, "Our payload formats use standard syntax (e.g. PoCo (Portable Contacts) for people info and ActivityStrea.ms or activities)."

Before you start coding away though, Chabot asks that you keep in mind, "three simple guidelines that we aspire to in our own products, and that we'd like all applications built on the Google+ platform to follow also: put the user first, be transparent, and respect user data. The goal behind these guidelines, as with all of the features and fine print, is to work together to build products that our users will love."

So ready? Set? Google+ Code!

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