Yahoo, Google and MySpace have formed a foundation to promote the OpenSocial platform as a neutral, community-governed specification for building social-networking applications, the companies announced Tuesday.
Yahoo’s involvement in the project is new. Google launched OpenSocial in November to simplify the creation and adaptation of applications for social-networking sites via a common set of APIs (application programming interfaces). MySpace was among the first backers of the project.
Yahoo has been “extremely impressed” with the progress of OpenSocial since its launch, Wade Chambers, Yahoo’s vice president of platforms, said during a news conference. The company has also been impressed with the number of social-networking sites and developers using the platform, he said.
Yahoo wouldn’t comment Tuesday on how it plans to use OpenSocial on its sites.
The OpenSocial Foundation will be a nonprofit group, and the founders will assign assets to the new organization by July 1, the companies said. The foundation has a Web site, at OpenSocial.org, where developers and Web site owners can find the latest specifications, links to other resources and the opportunity to get involved.
The purpose of the foundation is to keep OpenSocial an open platform not dominated by one company, said Joe Kraus, Google’s director of product management. “Our collective goal was to ensure that the thing that has made OpenSocial strong so far, its open community, got put on a solid footing, to continue for years to come,” he said.
The companies want to make sure OpenSocial remains “free and unencumbered,” Kraus added. Yahoo, MySpace and Google have agreed they will not assert patents tied to the project, he said.
Engineers from MySpace, Yahoo and Google will work with the OpenSocial community to further develop the specification, the companies said. The three companies expect others to join and expect the foundation to be set up within 90 days, Kraus said.
OpenSocial specifications are available under a Creative Commons copyright license. An open-source implementation called Shindig is being created and developed by the Apache Software Foundation.
“Yahoo believes in supporting community-driven industry specifications and expects that OpenSocial will fuel innovation and make the Web more relevant and more enjoyable to millions of users,” Chambers said in an earlier statement.
Steve Pearman, senior vice president of product strategy at MySpace, welcomed Yahoo’s support of OpenSocial, calling the company an “important addition” to the project.
Updated at 12:20 p.m. PT to include details from Tuesday’s OpenSocial press conference.