How Orkut Works

OpenSocial Technology and Orkut

OpenSocial is the technology that drives orkut. OpenSocial is an initiative to build social networking sites around a central user account resource. With OpenSocial, companies like Google let you create a single user account that applies to several separate applications such as e-mail, calendars and instant message services. While single sign-on (SSO) lets you to log in to several applications with only one set of user credentials, OpenSocial goes beyond that by sharing your complete user profile between those applications, often in the same graphical user interface.

OpenSocial uses the term social gadget to refer to each interactive feature you add to your social network. A user logged in at a social network Web site may see the social gadget as just a regular site feature like managing photos, or as an add-on feature (often called an application or widget) like music or a game. OpenSocial programmers frame each social gadget in one or more XML files called gadget specifications. Then, they program the gadget functions by adding JavaScript code within those files.

As an OpenSocial programmer, you don't have to start from scratch by setting up social gadgets. OpenSocial already has an application programming interface (API) with code for many common software actions used in a social network. For example, you can add a single line to your code to call a function from the API which requests all the extended profile information about a particular user. Then, you can use that information for other actions in your social gadget, such as to list the user's favorite books, or to show that user's location on a map. provides several articles and tutorials to help you get started creating your social gadget, with several examples featuring Google.

In orkut, you can add any of thousands of applications to the Apps section of your home page. When you want to venture into developing your own application for orkut, the orkut Developer Web site is the place to get started. These resources include orkut's terminology, requirements, recommended development practices and links to OpenSocial resources. You can step through the OpenSocial Tutorial for orkut, and you can even learn how to request profile information specific to orkut user accounts. These resources assume some familiarity with computer programming concepts, if not direct experience with JavaScript.