Today we launch the Beta version of our Ringside Networks Social Application Server. This is the first open source platform that enables businesses to weave social capabilities directly into their existing websites while seamlessly integrating with social networks such as Facebook. The open source software is available for immediate download at www.ringsidenetworks.com and www.ringsidenetworks.org, the corresponding open source community website.
Companies have spent far too much time and effort building their brands, websites, content and applications to hand over social networking to some third party. Ringside Networks gives them a way to get control over this important new way of interacting with their users and customers, while still being able to tie into the big social networks.
By integrating social networking as an integral part of the user experience of corporate websites, companies will be able to directly engage their global communities, enabling them to interact and communicate like never before. Benefits include more compelling user engagement, increased customer and brand loyalty, and transparent insight into vibrant community interactions that extend and grow through friend and associate recommendations.
What is a Social Application Server?
Unlike the many white label social networking tools on the market today, the Ringside Social Application Server allows companies to build and integrate custom social applications directly into corporate websites. This provides three primary advantages:
• Maximizes existing investments by making corporate websites and business applications socially aware.
• Ensures social applications can be customized to meet the unique needs of your business.
• Leverages your existing corporate website brand, look and feel.
Key highlights of the Ringside Social Application Server include:
• Social Application Engine: Enables website developers to quickly build, customize and deploy their own social applications as well as the included set of standard social applications such as user profiles, friends, groups, comments, ratings, favorites, events, etc.
• Social Intelligence: Allows business owners to gain insight into their customers, users, relationships, groups, and interactions taking place on their website.
• Facebook Compatibility: Enables any Facebook application to run on the Ringside Social Application Server with minimal changes. For Facebook developers, this provides the ability to develop applications on their laptops and deploy to Facebook and/or any website.
• Federated Social Graphs: Provides the ability to integrate a Ringside-based social graph with other social networks, such as Facebook with full user authentication and security, as well as appropriate use according to the Facebook Terms of Service.
• Extensible API and Tag Library: Enables developers to extend Facebook’s API and Markup Language, as well as define their own application-specific APIs and Tags in order to handle custom behavior and improve website integration.
• OpenSocial Compatibility and Interoperability: Provides the ability to seamlessly work with other social networks such as MySpace, Hi5, Orkut, and Bebo in a standard manner. This support is planned for future versions of the Ringside Social Application Server.
Jonathan Otto, developer of many Facebook applications including Runlicious and the popular “I Am A” series stated, “We have been an early adopter of the Ringside Social Application Server. It delivers on the promise of making Facebook development easier. The real win for us, however, is being able to control and deliver our applications to other websites, unlocking major new sources of revenue for our company. For example, we will now be able to allow any running store to easily integrate with our Runlicious application for a subscription fee, as well as control advertising through these websites.”
Facebook Interoperability and Federated Social Graphs
Since Facebook opened up their API in May of 2007, more than 19,000 applications have become available. The Ringside Social Application Server implements the Facebook API, as well as the Facebook Query Language (FQL) and Facebook Markup Language (FBML). This enables any Facebook application to run on the Ringside Social Application Server with only a few simple changes — unlocking three powerful use cases:
1. New social applications can be developed and deployed on both your website and on Facebook simultaneously — greatly expanding the reach of a website into a large and vibrant user base.
2. Facebook applications can now run on any website using the Ringside Social Application Server and are no longer limited to just running on Facebook.
3. Facebook developers can develop and test their social applications on their own laptop using the Ringside Social Application Server, and then, simply upload their applications to Facebook for deployment.
In addition to running Facebook applications, the Ringside Social Application Server enables social applications to have strong interoperability with Facebook. For example, if a Ringside application user also has a Facebook profile, then the social application running on a corporate website can communicate interactively with Facebook. This allows the application to post to that user’s Facebook profile or to communicate via Facebook to that user’s friends. Likewise, the user's interactions via Facebook can also be communicated to their Ringside friends, providing an integrated view of a “federated social graph.”
Opening up Social Networking
The Ringside Social Application Server opens up Social Networking to existing websites and new applications. The software is being released under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) — a free and open source license. The LGPL allows any website to use and any software vendor to bundle the Ringside Social Application Server, while encouraging everyone in the community to give back changes and improvements, in order to make the community and the software that much stronger. Active participation by the Facebook developer community is expected — enabling the open source project to keep pace with the rapidly changing Facebook API. The use of LGPL also keeps the promise that the software will always be free and in open source.