Web 2.0 Expo focuses on doing more with less

Facebook and Adobe will deliver a Flash client library for the Facebook Platform at the event

Web 2.0 Expo kicks off Tuesday with the motto "the power of less," hoping that thousands of developers, entrepreneurs, managers and investors in attendance will see Internet technology opportunities within current budget and resource constraints.

Web 2.0 refers to the breakthrough online technologies that emerged after the dot com bust and have entered workplaces via wikis, syndicated feeds, blogs, enterprise social networking and online communities. They have disrupted and enhanced various business activities, including marketing, communications, development and collaboration.

"Expo attendees have been learning for several years how to do things in a lightweight, agile, iterative way, which is the way of Web 2.0. Now, suddenly, companies are losing staff and budget with the downturn," said Jennifer Pahlka, general manager of the Web 2.0 events at TechWeb, which produces these conferences jointly with O'Reilly Media.

"The show this year will try to help attendees see that whatever resources, time or budget constraints they have, that problem can be turned into an opportunity if it helps us make necessary changes to streamline our organization to make more out of less," she said in a phone interview.

Pete Mauro, director of product management and marketing at Savings.com, has high expectations for his first Web 2.0 Expo. Working in a start-up, he wears many hats, so he plans to attend sessions about various topics, including marketing, customer service, community, OpenID and social-interface design.

"I'd like to hear from interesting speakers, meet folks in the hallways, and come back with new ideas and relationships that can help me and my company," he said via e-mail.

"Like everyone else, we are looking at the most effective way to leverage sites like Twitter and Facebook to extend our brand and build relationships with consumers," he added.

Samantha Swati LaPerre, managing editor of Electronic Arts' EA.com is interested in social media sessions to learn about marketing strategies and best practices, which is key in the video game industry.

"As someone who uses social media off the job as well, I know that how businesses use these tools to market to me can be anything from invasive to awesome, and I want to make sure that I know all I can about what defines that delicate balance," she said via e-mail.

"Also, as manager of content on our Web portal, knowing about the latest Web 2.0 technologies will help me define our roadmap as our site and content evolve," she added.

Geoffrey Hendrey, co-founder of start-up NextDB.net, a hosted AJAX database, this year only bought a pass to the show floor, not the conference, because he was disappointed at the number and quality of technical sessions at last year's event.

"We're a self-funded outfit that developed a new database technology targeted directly at the Mashup and Rich Internet Application space. So I'm working on a technology that I hope Web 2.0 developers will adopt. Web 2.0 should be more than 'twittering' and Facebook. It should be about changing the way programmers access data; moving to mashups and using services in the cloud. Maybe that is Web 3.0," he said via e-mail.

Many major Internet and software vendors will be at the conference -- in San Francisco's Moscone West -- including Facebook and Adobe, which will jointly announce on Tuesday the ActionScript 3 Client Library for Facebook Platform.

The library is intended to simplify the creation of Flash applications for Facebook and is expected to support all application programming interfaces (APIs) for the site. The vendors will provide documentation, sample applications and code for the library, which can be downloaded for free.

ActionScript 3 is the object-oriented language for Flash designed for rich Internet applications (RIAs).

"It's not just a library but a full support ecosystem for the Facebook Platform," said Josh Elman, platform program manager at Facebook, in a phone interview.

Bryant Macy [cq], director of product marketing for Adobe's platform business, said that of the 20 Facebook applications with the most active monthly users, 12 use Flash in some way.

"That's a pretty substantial number," Macy said. "Providing a fully support library makes it easier for developers to get started."

Other languages and environments could also get official client libraries for Facebook, like .Net, Ruby on Rails and Python, Elman said. Other client libraries supported in Facebook Platform include JavaScript and PHP.

In addition, Socialtext will announce at the show the availability of version 3.5 of its eponymous collaboration software platform which includes an enterprise social networking component.

This version's enhancements include an extension of the Signals microblogging capability in the suite's Desktop application, which is built on Adobe's AIR technology. In addition, the Dashboard component now lets administrators push lightweight "widget" applications that comply with OpenSocial standards directly to end users' dashboards.

Major vendors with booths at the show include Nokia, Salesforce.com, Amazon.com, eBay, IBM, Microsoft, Novell and Zoho.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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