LinkedIn wants your apps for the business world

LinkedIn, a social networking site designed for establishing and maintaining business contacts, has announced that it will provide a set of REST APIs and widgets that let developers build applications using LinkedIn data.

The site is a member of Google's OpenSocial developer network, so in the near future, developers will be able to use their own UI and back end, augmented with the LinkedIn Application Program Interface (API).

As it currently stands, the "Intelligent Applications" platform allows developers to utilize LinkedIn data in two ways: first, by creating software for use on LinkedIn -- much like the countless trivial applications you may find on Facebook, but hopefully with more purpose -- and secondly, by embedding LinkedIn information on partner sites.

In a video post on the business networking site's blog, product manager Lucian Beebe explains the mechanics of this with partner site BusinessWeek.

Beebe says, for example, if BusinessWeek runs an article on something such as a new business practice, and a LinkedIn user is interested in getting involved, he only needs to mouse over the company or project name in the article to see how he is connected to it. If the user is not directly connected, but has a LinkedIn connection who is, it will display that information accordingly. This, the company hopes, will make communication between businesspeople more efficient.

BusinessWeek is the first site to use LinkedIn's API so far. It is a partnership that is not altogether surprising, as a search of the news site shows they have recently mentioned LinkedIn in an average of one article a week.

While the site strives to be a "Facebook for Businesspeople," with similar features, such as the familiar profile system, news feeds, and now gadgets, professional standards differentiate LinkedIn from the others. Until recently, the site did not even allow user profile photos. Therefore, it aims to keep tight control over what developers may submit. Unlike Facebook, all applications and widgets will be subject to approval by LinkedIn.

Interested developers may contact developers@linkedin.com

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