MySpace enhances data portability system

The social-networking site is adding support for the open standards OAuth and OpenID

MySpace will enhance its data portability system on Wednesday with new features for both members and application developers, the latest move by a social-networking company to extend the ways in which its data can be used outside its own service.

MySpaceID already lets members carry their profile data to external sites, so that they don't have to re-enter it, as well as discover which of their MySpace friends have accounts with those sites that participate in the MySpaceID system.

On Wednesday MySpace will announce that it has integrated support for the open standards OAuth and OpenID, for single sign-on and user authentication, with MySpaceID. This will let its members sign into MySpaceID-compatible Web sites with their MySpace credentials.

"We've had APIs for ways of associating and linking accounts, but we hadn't offered true single sign-on experience," said Max Engel, product lead for MySpaceID.

Now, at participating sites MySpace members will be able to log in by clicking a button and entering their credentials. "This code is very simple, very lightweight, easy to use and easy to implement," Engel said.

"We've taken OpenID and OAuth, put them together into a hybrid experience, and then wrapped it all in a pop-up [interface]. There's been a stigma around these technologies in the past, that OpenID can't have a good user experience, that there's no way to roll out these open technologies and do it in a way that users understand. Here, we're demonstrating that openness and elegant design aren't mutually exclusive," he added. "That's a huge part of this."

In addition, MySpaceID now lets members broadcast their profiles' activity streams to external sites, while giving the participating sites the option to select which types of actions they will show, such as photos or music, while filtering out others that may not fit in with their focus.

Soon, MySpace will make this activity stream broadcasting bi-directional, letting members publish actions they take on external sites into their profiles.

MySpace is also announcing what it calls a big milestone for its data portability system: an early test of a MySpaceID application for Yahoo's upcoming redesigned home page. The application will let people log into their MySpace accounts from Yahoo.com and perform a variety of actions, like reading friend updates and changing their status message and mood icon, from within the Yahoo interface.

For developers, MySpace is introducing a new workflow that it says will streamline and simplify the process of creating and configuring MySpaceID applications. The company is also releasing a test version of a software development kit designed to also make it easier for developers to build MySpaceID applications. Initially it will have client libraries in the PHP, Python, Ruby, .NET and Java programming languages.

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