FriendFeed Opens Up the Firehose to Developers

friendfeed-logo.jpgFriendFeed seems to be staying one (or two or three) step(s) ahead of Twitter in everything they do. Today FriendFeed released their real-time stream of data in beta to any and all developers wishing to write applications. Unlike Twitter, there is no application necessary, no NDA to sign, and all is controlled by simple OAuth. This also means users of FriendFeed-based applications will no longer need to get their special key to manually enter as was previously required.

The real-time stream is based on long-polling techniques to receive near-immediate updates of data from FriendFeed. With Long-polling, developers send a request to a given address, which the server holds open until data is ready for that request. The result is real-time data from the polled source, in this case FriendFeed. It is also less server-intensive as compared to the typical push updates similar to what Twitter is using for their /track and real-time streams, so in theory will scale better (and to me shows the maturity of the FriendFeed team as compared to Twitter’s).

In addition to their real-time stream, FriendFeed released an OAuth solution to developers, enabling users one-click access to the FriendFeed data stream for compatible apps using the platform. SocialToo, my service currently using the Twitter and Facebook platforms, will be using this authentication as well as we integrate FriendFeed into our environment. It will enable simple, one-click login and registration into our system, making it much easier for users to use socially-based applications.

My favorite addition is the integration of social graph data into the stream returned by FriendFeed. Previously, only the list of people a user subscribed to was available via the FriendFeed API. Now, both the list of those subscribed to, and those subscribed to a user are provided, enabling apps like my SocialToo to very soon be able to provide useful analytics around those following you on FriendFeed. Yes, this will also enable auto-follow and auto-unfollow (to keep out spammers) as well if users opt to do so.

Other features released in the API are the ability to upload almost any file attachment to a user’s FriendFeed stream, access to the powerful (and more than 140 character) direct message features of FriendFeed, sharing to multiple streams at once, and more. In addition, FriendFeed is returning the HTML for users and groups, so developers don’t have to differentiate between the two. Hopefully, this will also enable FriendFeed to maintain control of the API and, if you ask me, provide advertising and monetization opportunities via the API in the future as well, which Twitter has completely lost control over.

FriendFeed’s API has proven to have potential as a much more flexible option for developers than Twitter’s in the past, and I think they’re proving that with the new features. In addition to the features launched today, developers can also opt to customize the requests they send to FriendFeed, specifying query parameters about exactly what information they want to retrieve about users, allowing much smaller and much fewer requests to the platform. This is a welcome site as compared to the Twitter platform, which forces entire requests to pull information about a user and their friends, forcing much larger data requests, and higher costs for developers in the end.

FriendFeed is putting the pressure on Twitter with this release. My hope is that developers will see this, and try the platform out, giving Twitter more pressure to fix their own platform issues. If you haven’t tried it, today is the day for Social Platform developers to try FriendFeed’s API.

Advertisements

27 thoughts on “FriendFeed Opens Up the Firehose to Developers

  1. Anthony, I have to admit real-time is what makes FriendFeed worth it, and
    the API didn't make this possible until now. I expect it. It will be
    interesting to see how powerful an API is after this, seeing how many
    clients now release FriendFeed integration, and how many people begin to use
    it. I bet FF traffic will soar after this.

    Like

  2. I'm very excited about this release, 7.5 out of 10 excited 😉
    If this API can help me setup user profiles/access and connect to their other feed information with a single click (OAuth must read this over), it can save me a lot of grunt working doing this myself. Although it makes me more reliant on friendfeed (fine for my early staged project) it also leverages their hard work and development team for future options.
    Fantastic stuff.

    Like

  3. Mark, I'm not sure if you can create profiles with it, but you can use the
    authentication information to authenticate with FriendFeed, find the
    associated FriendFeed user on your system, and if it isn't there, create a
    new account on your app from that information. Also, keep in mind that this
    also gives you content from other networks, so, minus the social graph data
    and profile data, you can use FriendFeed to pull out information from other
    networks, maybe encouraging your users to join FriendFeed as part of that to
    save costs. Just thinking out loud…

    Like

  4. I think in the near term that it is an excellent idea (encouraging users to make a friendfeed account). Of course the tool should work for twitter only or facebook only users, but if they want to pull from multiple sources now I'll have to write the interface handling one at a time (pain/time/resource). Jesse what type of user authentication login do you use for socialtoo? I had dug up some old php code that is similar to what I used for phpbb to setup accounts. The profile I want users to view should have feeds listed (and a way to add or subtract them), as well as tags and slide bars to modify them if so desired (with a way to add or subtract tags).

    The tags are derived from natural language and will have a sort of moving average filter (heavily weigh most recently messages) but help drive real time search and ads in a relevant way. Should be a fun opt-in system for users/advertisers when it's done. I have to come up with a good way to track results (are the ads really any more effective than random ads).

    Like

  5. Mark, I'm currently working on the ideal authentication system for
    SocialToo. The end result will be a set of Catalyst-based
    Catalyst::Authentication modules for Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed (soon
    to end up on CPAN) that will handle the authentication for you. They simply
    take you through the needed authentication, check the results from the
    service, and if successful, verify there is an account on our system for
    that Twitter/Facebook/FriendFeed user, and create a session for that user on
    our system. If no account is found it will give the user the option to
    create one. Of course there will be other options, such as if they're
    already logged in and want to just associate and authenticate with
    FriendFeed with their existing SocialToo session, etc. so we can perform
    operations with those credentials. I'm hoping to launch all that soon, if I
    can just get it all finished.

    Like

  6. That would be pretty groovy.
    I worry about having too many APIs, will my users have to create accounts in many different places? I know users are lazy (I am one!). Many of my friends only have a facebook account have never heard or used twitter let alone friendfeed.

    Would be wonderful if they could use their facebook (or friendfeed/google mail/openid) just once, and then pull the rest of their information together later. If I understand right, you'll have an authentication system like that?

    Like

  7. Jon-Mikel, Friendfeed has become my central hub for all my Social Network
    activity. I read most of my Twitter through FriendFeed. The rest I catch
    up with through Facebook – they're my filters and my aggregators and more.

    Like

  8. I think in the near term that it is an excellent idea (encouraging users to make a friendfeed account). Of course the tool should work for twitter only or facebook only users, but if they want to pull from multiple sources now I'll have to write the interface handling one at a time (pain/time/resource). Jesse what type of user authentication login do you use for socialtoo? I had dug up some old php code that is similar to what I used for phpbb to setup accounts. The profile I want users to view should have feeds listed (and a way to add or subtract them), as well as tags and slide bars to modify them if so desired (with a way to add or subtract tags).

    The tags are derived from natural language and will have a sort of moving average filter (heavily weigh most recently messages) but help drive real time search and ads in a relevant way. Should be a fun opt-in system for users/advertisers when it's done. I have to come up with a good way to track results (are the ads really any more effective than random ads).

    Like

  9. Mark, I'm currently working on the ideal authentication system for
    SocialToo. The end result will be a set of Catalyst-based
    Catalyst::Authentication modules for Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed (soon
    to end up on CPAN) that will handle the authentication for you. They simply
    take you through the needed authentication, check the results from the
    service, and if successful, verify there is an account on our system for
    that Twitter/Facebook/FriendFeed user, and create a session for that user on
    our system. If no account is found it will give the user the option to
    create one. Of course there will be other options, such as if they're
    already logged in and want to just associate and authenticate with
    FriendFeed with their existing SocialToo session, etc. so we can perform
    operations with those credentials. I'm hoping to launch all that soon, if I
    can just get it all finished.

    Like

  10. That would be pretty groovy.
    I worry about having too many APIs, will my users have to create accounts in many different places? I know users are lazy (I am one!). Many of my friends only have a facebook account have never heard or used twitter let alone friendfeed.

    Would be wonderful if they could use their facebook (or friendfeed/google mail/openid) just once, and then pull the rest of their information together later. If I understand right, you'll have an authentication system like that?

    Like

  11. Jon-Mikel, Friendfeed has become my central hub for all my Social Network
    activity. I read most of my Twitter through FriendFeed. The rest I catch
    up with through Facebook – they're my filters and my aggregators and more.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s