AOL to offer Web APIs for AIM

AOL plans to release APIs that allow programmers to embed AIM functionality into their Web sites

AOL plans to give external developers a way to embed functionality from AIM into their Web sites, another step in AOL's efforts to encourage programmers to use its popular instant messaging service.

Stephen Benedict, AOL Instant Messenger's principal product manager, was scheduled to announce a new set of Web-based APIs (application programming interfaces) and "widget" mini-applications at a developers' conference on Thursday, an AOL spokeswoman said.

With these new tools, programmers who don't work at AOL will be able to build AIM features into external Web sites. For example, the "presence" API would allow a user to display on his Web site his AIM availability status, "away" message and profile. With the "IM Windows" API, users could embed an AIM chat window on a Web page and use it to send and receive messages.

AOL plans to release four APIs and three widgets in a few weeks at http://developer.aim.com as an extension of the Open AIM Initiative, announced in March.

The overall goal of the Open AIM program is to facilitate the development of AIM plug-ins, the creation of AIM user interface applications and the integration of AIM presence information into Web sites.

AOL's efforts are in line with a wider trend among providers of online services like Yahoo and Google. With APIs, external developers can create applications that extend these companies' online services, adding features to them and in theory making them more attractive and useful.

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