OpenSocial is a public specification that defines a component hosting environment (container) and a set of common application programming interfaces (APIs) for Web-based applications. Initially, it was designed for social network applications and developed by Google along with MySpace and a number of other social networks. More recently, it has become adopted as a general use runtime environment for allowing untrusted and partially trusted components from third parties to run in an existing web application. The OpenSocial Foundation moved to integrate or support numerous other Open Web technologies. This includes OAuth and OAuth 2.0, Activity Streams, and Portable Contacts, among others.

It was released on November 1, 2007.[2] Applications implementing the OpenSocial APIs are interoperable with any social network system that supports them. At launch, OpenSocial took a one-size-fits-all approach to development. As it became more robust and the user-base expanded, OpenSocial modularized the platform to allow developers to only include the parts of the platform it needed.[3]

On December 16, 2014 the W3C issued a press release, "OpenSocial Foundation Moving Standards Work to W3C Social Web Activity",[4] that OpenSocial would no longer exist as a separate entity and encouraged the OpenSocial community to continue development work through the W3C Social Web Activity in the Social Web Working Group and Social Interest Group. The OpenSocial Foundation stated that "the community will have a better chance of realizing an open social web through discussions at a single organization, and the OpenSocial Foundation board believes that working as an integrated part of W3C will help reach more communities that will benefit from open social standards."[5] On January 1, 2015, began redirecting all page requests to[5]

Open Social Logo
Initial releaseNovember 1, 2007
Stable release
2.5.1 / August 30, 2013
Written inJava, PHP, C#, JavaScript, HTML
TypeWeb application framework
LicenseApache License 2.0


Structure of OpenSocial[6]

Based on HTML and JavaScript, as well as the Google Gadgets framework, OpenSocial includes multiple APIs for social software applications to access data and core functions on participating social networks.[7] Each API addresses a different aspect.[8] It also includes APIs for contacting arbitrary third party services on the web using a proxy system and OAuth for security.

In version 0.9 OpenSocial added support for a tag-based language.[9] This language is referred to as OSML and allows tag-based access to data from the OpenSocial APIs that previously required an asynchronous client-side request. It also defined a rich tag template system and adopted an expression language loosely based on the Java Expression Language.

Starting in version 2.0, OpenSocial adopted support for Activity Streams format.[9]



OpenSocial is commonly described as a more open cross-platform alternative to the Facebook Platform, a proprietary service of the popular social network service Facebook.[10]


OpenSocial was rumored to be part of a larger social networking initiative by Google code-named "Maka-Maka",[11] which is defined as meaning "intimate friend with whom one is on terms of receiving and giving freely" in Hawaiian.[12]


An open-source project, Shindig, was launched in December 2007, to provide a reference implementation of the OpenSocial standards. It has the support of Google, Ning, and other companies developing OpenSocial-related software. The Myspace OpenSocial parser was released as project Negroni in January 2011 and provides a C# based implementation of OpenSocial.

Apache Rave is a lightweight and open-standards based extensible platform for using, integrating and hosting OpenSocial and W3C Widget related features, technologies and services. It will also provide strong context-aware personalization, collaboration and content integration capabilities and a high quality out-of-the-box installation as well as be easy to integrate in other platforms and solutions.[13]

Both Shindig and Apache Rave are no longer in development and have been retired by the Apache foundation.


Enterprise websites, such as Friendster, hi5, LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut, and are major users of OpenSocial.[14]


Friendster has deployed APIs from version 0.7 of the OpenSocial specification, making it easy for existing OpenSocial applications using version 0.7 to be launched on Friendster and reach Friendster's over 75 million users. Friendster also plans to support additional OpenSocial APIs in the coming months, including the new 0.8 APIs.[15]


hi5 taps Widgetbox's support for OpenSocial to get access to the unsurpassed choice of web widgets Widgetbox provides.[16]


Myspace Developer Platform (MDP) is based on the OpenSocial API. It supports social networks to develop social and interacting widgets. It can be seen as an answer to Facebook's developer platform.[17]

Security issues

Initial OpenSocial support experienced vulnerabilities in security, with a self-described amateur developer demonstrating exploits of the RockYou gadget on Plaxo, and of Ning social networks using the iLike gadget.[18] As reported by TechCrunch on 5 November 2007, OpenSocial was quickly cracked. The total time to crack the OpenSocial-based iLike on Ning was just 20 minutes, with the attacker being able to add and remove songs on a user's playlist and access the user's friend information.[19]

Hasel and Iacono showed that “OpenSocial specification were far from being comprehensive in respect to security”.[20] They discussed different security implications in the context of OpenSocial. They introduced possible vulnerabilities in Message Integrity and Authentication, Message Confidentiality, and Identity Management and Access Control.

Release versions

Criticism of initial release

Opened to much fanfare in news coverage, OpenSocial did not work well in the beginning; it only ran on Google-owned Orkut, and only with a limited number of gadgets, returning errors for other gadgets. Other networks were still looking into implementing the framework.

On December 6, TechCrunch followed up with a report by MediaPops founder Russ Whitman, who said "While we were initially very excited, we have learned the hard way just how limited the release truly is." Russ added that "core functionality components" are missing and that "write once, distribute broadly" was not accurate.[21]

Legend:   Discontinued   Current

Version Release date Release notes
2.5.1[22] August 30, 2013 View Release Notes
2.5.0[23] August 28, 2012 View Release Notes
2.0.1[24] November 23, 2011 View Release Notes
2.0.0[25] August 18, 2011 View Release Notes
1.1.0[26] November 18, 2010 View Release Notes
1.0.0[3] March 9, 2010 View Release Notes
0.9.0[27] April 15, 2009 View Release Notes
0.8.1[28] September 25, 2008 View Release Notes
0.8.0[29] May 27, 2008 View Release Notes
0.7.0[30] January 25, 2008 View Release Notes
0.6.0[31] December 21, 2007 View Release Notes
0.5.0[32] November 9, 2007 View Release Notes

Version 2.5.1

Changes to the REST API were made to address several issues that required changes in the OpenSocial specifications so it could be used by the Open Mobile Alliance.[22]

Version 2.5.0

Common Containers were added that provided "a set of common services that Container developers can leverage for features like in-browser Gadget lifecycle event callbacks, Embedded Experiences, selection handlers, and action handlers."[23] A new Metadata API gives OpenSocial applications the ability to adapt to the capabilities of different OpenSocial containers. The WAP authentication extension was deprecated.

Version 2.0.1

OAuth 2.0 support was finalized in this version of OpenSocial.[24]

Version 2.0.0

OpenSocial introduced support for Activity Streams. JSON had emerged as the preferred data format and support for ATOM was deprecated. The Gadget format was simplified to give the ability to define a template library within a Gadget specification.[25] While not finalized, the groundwork for OAuth 2.0 support was put in place.

Version 1.1.0

In response to enterprise environment needs, OpenSocial added support for advanced mashup scenarios. It enabled gadgets to "securely message each other in a loosely coupled manner."[26] This new feature was called Inter-Gadget Communication.

Version 1.0.0

OpenSocial acknowledged that the "one-size-fits-all" approach it was taking was not going to work for the diverse type of websites that had adopted the platform. To address this issue, OpenSocial modularized into four compliance modules: Core API Server, Core Gadget Server, Social API Server, and Social Gadget Server.[3] This allowed a developer to pick and choose the modules they wanted to use while using other services that aren't part of OpenSocial. Extensions were introduced to allow developers to extend OpenSocial containers.

Version 0.9.0

In response to feedback and observation of how developers were using the API, this version focused on making "application development, testing, and deployment easier and faster, while reducing the learning curve for new app developers."[27] The OpenSocial Javascript API was streamlined to make it lightweight while retaining the power of the old Javascript API. Proxied content was introduced to eliminate the need for developers to work around previous AJAX limitations. Proxied content allows a content to be fetched from a URL and displayed in a <Content> tag. In response to a common use of sending data to a remote server immediately after a request, OpenSocial 0.9.0 introduced data pipelining. Data pipelining allows the developer to specify the social data the application will need and make the data immediately available. OpenSocial Templates were introduced to create data-driven UI with a separation of markup and programmatic logic. OpenSocial Markup Language (OSML Markup) is a new set of standardized tags to accomplish common tasks or safely perform normally unsafe operations within templates. OSML is extensible. Developers can create a library of their own custom tags.

Version 0.8.1

This minor release placed a major focus on server-to-server protocols as "the Person schema has been aligned with the Portable Contacts effort, and an optional RPC proposal has been added."[28] JSON-RPC protocol was added to increase server to server functionality. The RESTful protocol that was introduced in v0.8.0 underwent a large revision with several fields being added, modified, and deleted.

Version 0.8.0

OpenSocial changed specifications for containers to implement a RESTful API. Many of the OpenSocial Javascript API changes made this version incompatible with previous versions. Existing gadgets continued to use v0.7.0. After updating the gadget, it would use v0.8.0. Security improved with the introduction of OAuth authorization and HTML sanitation, and container lifecycle events.[29] Persistence data was stored in JSON.

Version 0.7.0

Released as the "first iteration that can fully support rich, social applications."[30] It added several standard fields for profile information, the ability to send a message to install an application, an Activity template to control activity notifications about what users have been doing, and a simplified persistence API to use feeds instead of global and instance-scoped application data. Another major announcement came from Apache Shindig. Apache Shindig made gadgets open sourced. In coordination with this announcement, OpenSocial 0.7.0 introduced Gadget Specifications for developers to be able to define their gadgets using the Gadget API.

Version 0.6.0

Security was a large focus in version 0.6.0. Permission controls were tightened to prevent a gadget from returning information if it is not authorized to do so. New classes were added, such as the Environment class to allow a gadget to respond differently according to its environment and the Surface class to support navigation from one surface to another. The Activities class was simplified based on developer needs and the Stream class was deprecated.[31]

Version 0.5.0

Google announced the launch of OpenSocial with a pre-release of version 0.5.0. While unstable, this API introduced "various XML DTDs, Javascript interfaces and other data structures"[32] to the OpenSocial platform.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Google Launches OpenSocial to Spread Social Applications Across the Web – News announcements – News from Google – Google". Retrieved 2015-11-23.
  3. ^ a b c Mark Marum (2013-01-01). "OpenSocial Specification 1.0.0 Release Notes". GitHub. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  4. ^ "OpenSocial Foundation Moving Standards Work to W3C Social Web Activity". W3C. 2014-12-16. Retrieved 2014-12-17.
  5. ^ a b "OpenSocial Foundation Moves Standards Work to W3C Social Web Activity W3C Blog". W3C. 2014-12-16. Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  6. ^ Häsel, Matthias (2011-01-01). "Opensocial: An Enabler for Social Applications on the Web". Commun. ACM. 54 (1): 139–144. doi:10.1145/1866739.1866765. ISSN 0001-0782.
  7. ^ "Open Social: a new universe of social applications all over the web". 2007-11-02. Archived from the original on November 2, 2007. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  8. ^ "OpenSocial Foundation". GitHub. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  9. ^ a b "OpenSocial Specification Release Notes". Retrieved 2015-11-23.
  10. ^ Helft, Miguel; Brad Stone (2007-10-31). "Google and Friends to Gang Up on Facebook". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
  11. ^ Schonfeld, Erick (2007-10-29). "Google's Response to Facebook: "Maka-Maka"". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
  12. ^ "maka.maka". Nā Puke Wehewehe ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi. Ulukau: The Hawaiian Electronic Library. Archived from the original on 2013-09-18. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
  13. ^ "Open Social Foundation Moves Standards Work to W3C Social Web Activity". Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  14. ^ "What is OpenSocial? A Webopedia Definition". Retrieved 2015-11-23.
  15. ^ "Friendster Opens Platform to Developers". PCWorld. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  16. ^ ""hi5 Taps Widgetbox for OpenSocial Support and Access to the World's Widest Selection of Widgets." Science Letter 9 Sept. 2008: 4265. Academic OneFile. Web". Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  17. ^ "Let me see my app!". February 5, 2008. Archived from the original on February 9, 2008. Retrieved February 5, 2008.
  18. ^ Arrington, Michael (2007-11-05). "OpenSocial Hacked Again". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  19. ^ Arrington, Michael (2007-11-05). "OpenSocial Hacked Again". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2010-07-24.
  20. ^ Häsel, Matthias; Iacono, Luigi Lo (2010-05-31). Decker, Bart De; Schaumüller-Bichl, Ingrid, eds. Security in OpenSocial-Instrumented Social Networking Services. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 40–52. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-13241-4_5. ISBN 978-3-642-13240-7.
  21. ^ Schonfeld, Erick (2007-12-06). "OpenSocial Still "Not Open for Business"". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2010-07-24.
  22. ^ a b Mark Marum (2013-01-01). "OpenSocial Specification 2.5.1 Release Notes". GitHub. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  23. ^ a b Mark Marum (2013-01-01). "OpenSocial Specification 2.5.0 Release Notes". GitHub. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  24. ^ a b Mark Marum (2013-01-01). "OpenSocial Specification 2.0.1 Release Notes". GitHub. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  25. ^ a b Mark Marum (2013-01-01). "OpenSocial Specification 2.0.0 Release Notes". GitHub. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  26. ^ a b Mark Marum (2013-01-01). "OpenSocial Specification 1.1.0 Release Notes". GitHub. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  27. ^ a b Mark Marum (2013-01-01). "OpenSocial Specification 0.9.0 Release Notes". GitHub. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  28. ^ a b Mark Marum (2013-01-01). "OpenSocial Specification 1.8.1 Release Notes". GitHub. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  29. ^ a b Mark Marum (2013-01-01). "OpenSocial Specification 0.8.0 Release Notes". GitHub. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  30. ^ a b Mark Marum (2013-01-01). "OpenSocial Specification 0.7.0 Release Notes". GitHub. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  31. ^ a b Mark Marum (2013-01-01). "OpenSocial Specification 0.6.0 Release Notes". GitHub. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  32. ^ a b Mark Hopkins (2007-11-09). "OpenSocial Container Pre-Release". Mashable. Retrieved 2015-11-28.

External links

  • Shindig Shindig was an open source implementation of the OpenSocial specification and gadgets specification.
Apache Shindig

Shindig is a framework for web-based applications. It is an open source project which began in December 2007 to provide a reference implementation for the OpenSocial standard. The software contains both server-side and client-side code. Once the project is mature, an installation of this product will be capable of rendering OpenSocial gadgets in a web browser.


BIGADDA was an Indian e-commerce website owned by Reliance Entertainment, part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. The site was a social network site.

BIGADDA claimed that the top 20 cities account for 45% users from within India while 40% of the users come from Tier III cities like Tuticorin, Bhilai, Amritsar, Guwahati, Surat, Nasik.Dataquest, a popular IT journal also featured BIGADDA along with sites like IndyaRocks & BharatStudent as one of the top 25 web 2.0 start-ups in India.

Caja project

Caja (pronounced KAH-hah) is a Google project and a JavaScript implementation for "virtual iframes" based on the principles of object-capabilities. Caja takes JavaScript (technically, ECMAScript 5 strict mode code), HTML, and CSS input and rewrites it into a safe subset of HTML and CSS, plus a single JavaScript function with no free variables. That means the only way such a function can modify an object is if it is given a reference to the object by the host page. Instead of giving direct references to DOM objects, the host page typically gives references to wrappers that sanitize HTML, proxy URLs, and prevent redirecting the page; this allows Caja to prevent certain phishing attacks, prevent cross-site scripting attacks, and prevent downloading malware. Also, since all rewritten programs run in the same frame, the host page can allow one program to export an object reference to another program; then inter-frame communication is simply method invocation.

The word "caja" is Spanish for "box" or "safe" (as in a bank), the idea being that Caja can safely contain JavaScript programs as well as being a capabilities-based JavaScript.

Caja is currently used by Google in its Google Sites and Google Apps Script products; in 2008 MySpace and Yahoo! and Allianz had both deployed a very early version of Caja but later abandoned it.

Google Dataset Search

Google Dataset Search is a search engine from Google that helps researchers locate online data that is freely available for use. The company launched the service on September 5, 2018, and stated that the product was targeted at scientists and data journalists.

Google Dataset Search complements Google Scholar, the company's search engine for academic studies and reports.

Google Developers

Google Developers (previously Google Code) is Google's site for software development tools, application programming interfaces (APIs), and technical resources. The site contains documentation on using Google developer tools and APIs—including discussion groups and blogs for developers using Google's developer products.

There are APIs offered for almost all of Google's popular consumer products, like Google Maps, YouTube, Google Apps, and others.

The site also features a variety of developer products and tools built specifically for developers. Google App Engine is a hosting service for web apps. Project Hosting gives users version control for open source code. Google Web Toolkit (GWT) allows developers to create Ajax applications in the Java programming language.

The site contains reference information for community based developer products that Google is involved with like Android from the Open Handset Alliance and OpenSocial from the OpenSocial Foundation.

Google Finance

Google Finance is a website focusing on business news and financial information hosted by Google.

Google Fit

Google Fit is a health-tracking platform developed by Google for the Android operating system and Wear OS. It is a single set of APIs that blends data from multiple apps and devices. Google Fit uses sensors in a user's activity tracker or mobile device to record physical fitness activities (such as walking or cycling), which are measured against the user's fitness goals to provide a comprehensive view of their fitness.

Google Forms

Google Forms is a survey administration app that is included in the Google Drive office suite along with Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides.

Forms features all of the collaboration and sharing features found in Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

Google Gadgets

Google Gadgets are dynamic web content that can be embedded on a web page. They can be added to and interact strongly with Google's iGoogle personalized home page (discontinued in November 2013, although iGoogle Gadgets still work on other websites) and the Google Desktop (discontinued in September 2011) application, as well as Google Wave (also no longer supported by Google) and Google Sites. Webmasters can add and customize a gadget to their own business or personal web site, a process called "syndication".

Gadgets are developed by Google and third-party developers using the Google Gadgets API, using basic web technologies such as XML and JavaScript.

Google I/O

Google I/O (or simply I/O) is an annual developer conference held by Google in Mountain View, California.

I/O was inaugurated in 2008, and is organized by the executive team. "I/O" stands for input/output, as well as the slogan "Innovation in the Open". The event's format is similar to Google Developer Day.

Kevin Marks

Kevin Marks is on the Advisory Council of the Open Rights Group, a UK-based Digital Rights campaigning organization and is an Open Web Advocate. He is one of the founders of Microformats.

Marks was listed at #13 in The Daily Telegraph's 50 most influential Britons in Technology.Marks was Vice President of Web Services at BT. He became Principal Engineer for Technorati after working for both Apple and the BBC. At the TechCrunch event Realtime Stream Crunchup he announced that he would be joining BT to work together with JP Rangaswami. He worked at from 2011 to 2013 as their VP of Open Cloud Standards.

At the first BloggerCon, Marks discussed the power curve as it applies to weblogs:

The net changes the power law of the media curve. If you look at relative popularity on the web, using something like Technorati, you get a power curve that goes all the way down gradually, to the bottom where you see pages that got just a single click. If you look at popularity in the "real" world — best-selling books, or top music — the power curve drops like a stone from a very high level. That's because in order to get a book published, or a piece of music recorded, you have to convince somebody that you're going to sell a million copies. You end up in a zero-sum game, where people pour enormous resources into being the number one, because number two is only half as good. The promise of the net is that the power of all those little links can outweigh the power of the top ten.

In 2003, Marks was an early experimenter with and contributor to the technologies that became popular under the names podcasting and iPodder in 2004.

At the 4 October 2003 BloggerCon, Marks demonstrated a program that downloaded RSS-enclosure audio files and transferred them to Apple's iTunes music player, which could then synchronize them onto an iPod. In his weblog post from the conference that day, Marks mentioned discussing the program with Adam Curry, who also blogged about their chat the next day.Kevin previously worked for Google as a Developer Advocate on OpenSocial.


Plaxo was an online address book that launched in 2002. It was a subsidiary of cable television company Comcast from 2008 to 2017. At one point it offered a social networking service.

Portable Contacts

Portable Contacts was an open protocol for developers to make it easier for developers to give their users a secure way to access the address books and friends lists they have built up all over the web. The goal of the project was to increase data portability by creating a common and open specification to bridge proprietary contacts Application programming interfaces (API) such as Google's GData Contacts API, Yahoo's Address Book API, and Microsoft's Live Contacts API. It combines OAuth, XRDS-Simple and a wire-format based on vCard harmonized with schema from OpenSocial.

The editor of Portable Contacts specification was Joseph Smarr of Plaxo and the project co-maintained by Chris Messina.

Portable Contacts was used by services such as Google Contacts, Windows Live Messenger Connect, as well as other specification such as OStatus.

SAP StreamWork

SAP StreamWork is an enterprise collaboration tool from SAP SE released in March 2010, and sunset in December 2015. StreamWork allows real-time collaboration like Google Wave, but focuses on business activities such as analyzing data, planning meetings, and making decisions. It incorporates technology from and Evernote to allow users to connect to online files and documents, and document-reader technology from Scribd to allow users to view documents directly within its environment.StreamWork supports the OpenSocial set of application programming interfaces (APIs), allowing it to connect to tools built by third-party developers, such as Google Docs. A version of StreamWork intended for large enterprises uses a virtual appliance based on Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise to connect it to business systems, including those from SAP.


Socialtext Incorporated is a company based in Palo Alto, California, that produces enterprise social software. Its integrated suite of web-based social software applications includes microblogging, user profile, directories, groups, personal dashboards using OpenSocial widgets, shared spreadsheet, wiki, and weblog collaboration tools, and mobile apps. The oversight and guidance of Socialtext's business strategies and sales functions are performed by GM Stephen Turner.Socialtext's technical features include LDAP and Active Directory integration, Single Sign-On, REST API, and connectors to and Sharepoint.

Investors in Socialtext included Omidyar Network, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Sapphire Ventures

On May 1, 2012, Socialtext was acquired by Bedford Funding, a $1.4 billion private equity firm that also owns Peoplefluent. is an independent English trance-oriented music site including news, reviews, interviews and forums.The site is notable for its compilation releases and interviews with artists such as Tiësto, Ferry Corsten and Armin van Buuren. also hosts the "Future Favorite" segment on Armin van Buuren's radio show A State of Trance, which, internationally, attracts more than 6,000,000 listeners weekly.


Viadeo is a Web 2.0 professional social network whose members include business owners, entrepreneurs and managers. As of 2014, the site had 65 million members.


Widgetbox was a San Francisco, California based company that enabled businesses to create and deliver applications to their customers. Widgetbox formally discontinued their service on March 28, 2014.

In February 2011, Widgetbox rebranded as Flite and focused on online and mobile advertising.


Zembly (styled zembly) was a browser-based development environment from Sun Microsystems

that enabled social programming

of applications for Facebook, Meebo, OpenSocial, iPhone web applications, and other social platforms, as well as web widgets. Users of zembly interacted with one another via zembly's social networking features to engage in co-development of applications for these platforms. It was available from 2008-2009.

In addition to the development environment, the zembly platform, provided the ability to consume Web APIs (RESTful web services) in zembly applications as well as externally using the open source zembly client library (with language bindings for Java and JavaFx). This functionality provided a consistent programming model across various API providers.

Zembly combined features from traditional IDEs (such as a rich scripting editor) with wiki- and social-networking-based technologies to attempt to innovate on the application development paradigm for smaller-sized applications. Applications created at zembly were automatically and transparently deployed, hosted, and scaled on its underlying cloud computing infrastructure.

User interface
Related concepts

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