LinkedIn Groups Widgets Headed For Apps, Sites

Groups API lets applications and websites connect to LinkedIn Groups industry discussion boards.

David F Carr, Editor, InformationWeek Government/Healthcare

June 30, 2011

3 Min Read

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Applications and websites can now access LinkedIn Groups using an application programming interface the professional social network introduced Thursday.

The Groups API for JavaScript and REST joins programming interfaces for company and job listings LinkedIn introduced last month, as well as those for searching and displaying member profiles. Details are available at the LinkedIn Developers site.

Professional discussion groups for every industry and discipline are among LinkedIn's most popular features, and now LinkedIn is "freeing up discussion so people can engage with it across the Web," Adam Nash, vice president of product management, said in an interview.

One of the first implementations is on the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference website, which features a widget displaying the latest and most popular discussion board posts from the message board for the conference on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn messages are displayed side-by-side with updates from Twitter and from the conference's Facebook page, but the LinkedIn content will serve a different purpose, said Julie Bennani, Microsoft's general manager of partner programs. As she sees it, people are more likely to make social arrangements like what parties to meet at through Facebook, while on Twitter they're more likely to be posting links to articles about the event. But because of the professional nature of LinkedIn, that's the forum where attendees are more likely to explore potential business deals.

"I see Twitter as an interest graph, Facebook as a social graph, and LinkedIn as a business graph," Bennani said. Although the LinkedIn integration is being used partly to promote the annual conference that opens July 10 in Los Angeles, Microsoft also wants to use it to facilitate conversations that will continue throughout the year, she said.

LinkedIn did not release simple copy-and-paste JavaScript plug-ins for the Groups API the way it has for some others, so developers will have to code their own user interface widgets. That's partly because the Groups API is exposing a rich set of functions that can be integrated with a website--or any other application that can make use of group conversations, connections, and job postings--in many different ways, Nash said. "You can mash up this data with a lot of other interesting services."

For example, instead of just pulling in the latest discussion posts, an application might display just those on a given topic. A SharePoint product page on the Microsoft website might display just the posts related to SharePoint. A company that operates multiple groups could use the API to create a dashboard displaying a consolidated view of activity across all of them.

Nash said the API provides access to most group functions, with the exception of group administrator tasks such as moderating posts.

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About the Author(s)

David F Carr

Editor, InformationWeek Government/Healthcare

David F. Carr oversees InformationWeek's coverage of government and healthcare IT. He previously led coverage of social business and education technologies and continues to contribute in those areas. He is the editor of Social Collaboration for Dummies (Wiley, Oct. 2013) and was the social business track chair for UBM's E2 conference in 2012 and 2013. He is a frequent speaker and panel moderator at industry events. David is a former Technology Editor of Baseline Magazine and Internet World magazine and has freelanced for publications including CIO Magazine, CIO Insight, and Defense Systems. He has also worked as a web consultant and is the author of several WordPress plugins, including Facebook Tab Manager and RSVPMaker. David works from a home office in Coral Springs, Florida. Contact him at [email protected]and follow him at @davidfcarr.

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