Monday, April 26, 2010

@anywhere and Social Plugins -- Blah!

Within an hour of Twitter turning devs loose at Chirp, I had an @anywhere prototype page up, demonstrating everything that can be done with the new API on an ESPN page.

You can see it here.

Similarly, I had been playing around with the new Facebook APIs and hammered out an example of each Social Plugin really quickly.

See this for an example.

Here's what I think: Blah!

I thought the days of inflexible widgets was over, but now, we have this slew of APIs that make it easy to drop in functionality, but is it worth it?

I'd say no. At least not yet.

Let's keep in mind, these are new APIs and they are designed to be able to be used without a developer's intervention, but I'd argue they do more harm than good right now.

First, most are hatched in an iframe, meaning you can't style them and your site quickly begins to look like a Facebook or Twitter transplant.

Second, the functionality they offer is a bit weak right now. Nothing earth shattering or that hadn't been done before. Yes, Facebook, I know the Open Graph is new, but it's not really a product play, it's a marketing play.

That said, they have promise. They are drop dead easy to use. Here is what I would recommend

  • Allow each API to be exposed as JSON-P
  • Allow each to take a parameter that is the location of a stylesheet that can be used to style the contents of the iframe
  • Allow multiple domain or top-level domain insights. You can't pass espn.go.com and get info on sports.espn.go.com and vice versa.


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