JSR Watch

New Java spec request for Social Media API

Chris Mayer
java-duke

A proposed API for accessing social networking information can only be a good thing right?

The latest Java Specification Request for Java 7 has surfaced,
proposing an API for accessing private and public social
information networks, ranging from Facebook and Twitter to networks
within the enterprise and institutions.

Primarily targetting Java SE, the Social Media API (JSR 357) will build upon
standards and formats specified by the OpenSocial 2.0
project, particularly Apache Shindig and Spring Social. However,
according to Spec Lead Werner Keil, there needs to be a renovation
of these projects stating that they were ‘built on top of
quasi-standards or proprietary technologies adding the
risk of a vendor lock-in even if the API itself may be provided
Free or Open Source. ‘ He adds:

Apache Shindig has been contributed by Google, but
the project has not seen a lot of activity in recent years, unlike
the most common social networks. It is said to be RI for Open
Social 0.8.x and 0.9.x, but Google also released an Open Social
Java Client on Google Code. Neither of them use Java (EE) standards
like CDI or JSR 330, instead frameworks like Guice are used
directly.

While Shindig tends to separate model and
implementation, and e.g. for Persistence even uses JPA, the Google
version lacks both. It also puts a strong emphasis on MySpace which
increasingly lost users to other services.

Packaged under the name javax.social, the proposed API would be
built on top of other well established and successful Java APIs
such as CDI, RESTful Web Services, Java Identity (JSR
351), JSON (JSR 353) or WebSockets (JSR 356). 
Red Hat
and Twitter are already part of the Expert Group, whilst the likes
of eXo and Atlassian have shown their support for the
implementation of this API into Java. 

It’s pretty clear that Java needs a bang up-to-date social media
API to deal with an everchanging field. Benefits for Java EE could
be widespread too, through its link to CDI and making it
more cloud-friendly by providing standardized access to public
social networks like Yammer for example. Java appears to be on a
cloud charm offensive at the moment and it’s great to
see.

The Review Ballot is now open to both SE/EE committees
(before they merge), with an early draft expected in Q3 of 2012,
with a final version appearing next in 2013 should it pass the
ballot.

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