IBM gives developer portal social-networking makeover

MyDeveloperWorks seeks to bring the site's millions of users closer together

IBM is looking to drive interest in its DeveloperWorks information portal for programmers with a major dose of social-networking mojo.

DeveloperWorks currently has 8 million users and contains thousands of articles, according to IBM. The new social-networking features announced Thursday, dubbed "MyDeveloperWorks," are meant to "transform the world's greatest knowledge base into a professional network," said Jim Corgel, general manager of ISV and developer relations at IBM.

Users will "find who they need, in addition to what they need, faster than ever," he added.

IBM's social-networking platform Lotus Connections is at the heart of the new capabilities. Users can build personal profiles, customize their homepages to receive desired information feeds, tag, rate and sort content; participate in various groups, search through user profiles for those with like-minded interests, and perform other familiar social-networking functions.

Not all of the planned features are available. Eventually, My DeveloperWorks users will be able to directly interact with profiles they may have on third-party social networking services like Facebook and Twitter, according to a spokeswoman. IBM is not yet providing an exact timeline for the capability. In the meantime, users can add hyperlinks from any site to their MyDeveloperWorks profiles.

One MyDeveloperWorks user said the site has promise, but IBM needs to find a way to fine-tune it for developers, such as by tying it into SourceForge, the popular open-source software repository.

Right now, the site's social-networking components are useful, but "seem kind of generic," said Paul Reiners, a Java developer from Minnesota.

Reiners expects to use the site mostly for personal projects, such as organizing a "laptop orchestra" musical-programming group with some friends.

But Reiners may also tap MyDeveloperWorks for professional development activities as well, such as study groups. Right now, he uses Google Apps for scheduling sessions and organizing documents.

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