Ning is now live with Open Social

[For background on Open Social, please see these three prior posts: Open Social overviewscreenshots and screencast; and a report from the Open Social launch.]

Ning has gone live with full Open Social beta support as of this afternoon.

First, a warning and disclaimer: as I’ve previously mentioned, the Open Social API is not yet stabilized and will still change. The API is officially on version 0.5 and I expect it to go through at least a few more revs before it goes to 1.0, although that should presumably happen pretty quickly. So everything I’m describing here, and everything we’re doing with Open Social live on Ning, should be considered very beta/sandbox-y — and not just “oh yeah, all this Web 2.0 stuff is beta” kind of beta, but real good-old-fashioned will-probably-break kind of beta!

How is Open Social live on Ning?

We have added Open Social functionality to all social networks on Ning, except for those that have modified their underlying source code. Which is to say, if you have gone to Ning and created a social network in the past, or if you go to Ning right now and create a new social network, you now have the option of turning on Open Social in your network. So, most of the 115,000+ networks on Ning today have the option of turning on Open Social.

Turning on Open Social is a decision that each Network Creator gets to make. By default it’s turned off — so if you just go to Ning and look at a network and the Network Creator hasn’t turned on Open Social, you won’t see anything different. But if a Network Creator goes into the management UI and turns on Open Social, then bingo, it’ll be on.

This gives each Network Creator the option of either experimenting with Open Social today, or not. In time, as the API stabilizes, we will turn it on across the board, and also provide Network Creators with even more control over how it applies to their individual networks.

So what happens when a Network Creator chooses to turn on Open Social for her social network on Ning?

First, the Network Creator — the person who created and/or owns the network — can add Open Social gadgets/apps to the network’s home page. All users will see and interact with those gadgets/apps.

Second, each member of the network can go to her personal profile page within the network and add Open Social gadgets/apps to her profile page. All other users will see and interact with those Open Social gadgets/apps when they visit that profile page.

How should this be used today?

Not to sound like a broken record, but the main way this should be used today is to experiment with the Open Social API and with Open Social gadgets/apps. In fact, we that recommend anyone who is running a network today and wants to play with Open Social should create a new demo network for that purpose.

That said, if you want to turn on Open Social on your production network, go crazy — but expect the underlying Open Social API to continue to change and for gadgets/apps that run today to possibly not run in the future!

What about a directory of Open Social gadgets that I can play with?

Just click here for a gallery of Open Social gadgets/apps that you can start playing with.

If you have an Open Social gadget/app that you’d like us to add to our gallery, please read this.

How about a screencast?



How about screenshots?

Here’s a personal profile page with an embedded Open Social gadget/app (in this case, iLike):

Here’s how a Network Creator adds Open Social capability to her network:

Here’s the gallery of Open Social gadgets/apps:

Here’s what happens, for the moment, when a user says she wants to add a gadget/app — this will get better:


Early developer documentation for creating Open Social gadgets and using them on Ning is here.

Also of course see the main Google documentation for the Open Social API.

More information?

See here for the official Ning blog post announcing this support.

How do I send feedback?

We’d love to hear what you think and learn about how you want to use Open Social on Ning and elsewhere — just go here.

Also, if you do something cool, send me email at pmarcablog (at) gmail (dot) com!

Have fun!