Facebook enters the big league by getting more open

3 04 2007

Facebook released a program called “Thrift” yesterday to seamlessly transition between different programming languages with easy integration.  Now it’s been known that companies have programs like these in house, but none of them have released them for wide use among the public.  Facebook, almost as a declaration that they’re in the big leagues, released this tool for wide use ideally setting a precedent for other companies to follow suit.

I do have to say that open source friendly companies like Mozilla have been extremely beneficial for the Internet in general.  The obvious advantage of an open source platform is essentially free advertisement and usage of the site on alternate websites.  Additionally, developers can build tools that sometimes that can be implemented by the company itself.  Famous platforms like Microsoft, Intuit, and Red Hat have an extremely loyal developer group that constantly provides feedback to the companies themselves.  In essence, they act as third party employees for the major corporation.

Every successful Internet/software company has a thriving developer community.  Two summers ago, I did a research project at PayPal on how to increase developer usage on their platform.  One of the major things I found in the study was that the highest usage for API implementation occurred when users were excited with the product.  Obviously in my case, payments isn’t necessarily the sexiest product out there, but more of a functional platform for users to build their businesses on.  Google Maps API for instance, which had released two summers ago, immediately garnered high response rates as people would integrate bus schedules for certain cities using maps.

Facebook’s tool will be awesome for the average developer, but will it create a rise in users on their platform?  My guess is not really…and the tool isn’t meant to really increase their platform usage.  I do know that social networking API’s can be an effective tool in marketing to mass audiences, something that we’ve started to see.

All in all, facebook made a big move today and I applaud them for providing this tool to developers.  Ideally, there efforts will garner higher usage and cool products to use in the future.

Just my $.02…





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