infoTECH Feature

June 03, 2010

OExchange Tries to Make It Easier to Share on Web, Becomes Option to Facebook and Twitter

OExchange has started a new open protocol for the sharing of any URL-based content on the web - which puts it in competition with highly successful sites like Facebook (News - Alert) and Twitter.

Developers say that OExchange establishes a common way for services, such as Google (News - Alert) Buzz, to receive content; defines how third party tools, like the AddThis platform, can discover and share content to new services; and shows how sharing tools can read and set a user's sharing preferences.

A number of services, like Google Buzz and Instapaper, have already implemented the protocol.

Previously, because every service is in a different language or has a unique integration scheme, providing access to these services has been difficult.

Spearheaded by Clearspring (News - Alert) Technologies and supported by Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, as well as several smaller online service providers and social networks, OExchange helps build a more open web, according to the developers.

'OExchange is a key component in providing a complete open solution for content sharing online," Hooman Radfar (News - Alert), chief executive officer of Clearspring Technologies, said. "We are excited as it will enable a new generation of applications that can help better connect people with the communities they are about.'

'The key to increasing the amount and quality of sharing online is smoothing out the user interaction. By simplifying the underlying mechanism for cross-site sharing with OExchange, people can focus on what they're sharing, rather than how," added Chris Messina, an open web advocate at Google. He says it makes sharing easier for publishers and service providers alike.

As the web becomes more social, more people want to share information with friends and colleagues across a wide array of services, Messina said in a recent post on the Google Social Web Blog.

While most services provide APIs to facilitate sharing, an increasing number of these services with unique APIs makes integration costly for publishers and limits the likelihood that lesser-known services will be supported, Messina added.

"OExchange aims to address this problem by specifying a conventional way for publishers to offer links to sharing services, and for sharing services to design their API endpoints," Messina said. "OExchange also provides a mechanism for publishers to discover information about new services that they've never seen before using a format called XRD on top of an emerging protocol called host-meta, which happens to benefit from XAuth as well."

OExchange has posted a demo video to help explain the service.

Some of the organizations involved include: AddToAny; Clearspring; Digg; Echo; Google; Instapaper; LinkedIn; Microsoft; Posterous; PrintFriendly; Springpad; (News - Alert); yiid; and yfrog.

OExchange comes as Facebook reports more than 500 million users and claims such large customers as Proctor & Gamble Co., Toys "R" Us Inc. and Virgin America Inc. The company is relying on ads to maintain sales growth and provide the foundation for a possible initial public offering, TMCnet reports.

Ed Silverstein is a contributing editor for TMCnet's InfoTech Spotlight. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Alice Straight

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