Plaxo Becomes “Portable Contacts” Provider, Helping Vet the Draft Spec

Portable Contacts deep dive

As a follow-on to last week’s Portable Contacts Summit, Plaxo has updated its API site, de-emphasizing the company’s proprietary APIs in favor of Portable Contacts and the other associated “open stack” building blocks (OpenID, OAuth, microformats, OpenSocial, etc.). While the spec still remains in a draft state, the community agreed that it is time to start getting multiple live implementations up, as part of the process of vetting the current (and any future) draft. Only in that way can there be a fully-informed decision process to declare a final 1.0.

Joseph Smarr, who is Plaxo’s Chief Platform Architect and the de facto leader of the grass roots Portable Contacts initiative, blogged about the update to the API site in a piece entitled “Portable Contacts is Now Plaxo’s Primary API“:

We’ve revamped Plaxo’s developer section to focus primarily on the open building blocks we’re using. Starting now, developers should consider OAuth and Portable Contacts the primary way to access profile, address book, and pulse connections data from Plaxo. The idea is simple: once you write code to work with Plaxo, you can use that exact same code on a variety of other sites. And if you’ve already integrated with one of those sites, you can start working with Plaxo right away. After all, one of the main drivers to create Portable Contacts was the pain developers face having to write custom, one-off API implementations against every site they deal with. So we think it’s time to start living the good life, where common specs mean less writing code and more interoperability with more sites.

Given the strong support demonstrated at the Summit, we expect to see other implementations in the wild soon. And since Portable Contacts is all about enabling interoperability between Social Web services, it is critically important that we test a variety of cross-site scenarios live before declaring this or a future draft to be “1.0”.

One really cool thing is that all of the companies that fully implement the new OpenSocial RESTful APIs will be Portable Contacts compliant “out of the box” — without having to write any additional code. That’s because the Portable Contacts community worked with the OpenSocial community to technically align the two specs. So, don’t be surprised to see Portable Contacts support coming soon to some really big Internet players. (Hint: Google and MySpace had live demos at last week’s Summit.)

I am starting to feel very confident in my prediction for 2008!🙂

If you are a developer who wants to jump in and get started on Portable Contacts, head over to Plaxo’s just-updated API site.

Update: I just also got a link to a live Portable Contacts demo from JanRain, which ties together OpenID and Plaxo’s implementation of Portable Contacts. Very cool.

[Reminder/disclosure: I work for Plaxo.]

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