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EngineY is an open source project that provides a complete social networking framework that can be run stand alone as a social network similar to a Ning social network, or it can be integrated with an existing website to provide just the social capabilities. It is a project that I have been developing over the past year or so. In this post, I want to talk about another way you can use EngineY, not as an application or framework that you would integrate into your code, but as a server that can provide all of the social features for your existing web applications.

This idea came to me while helping out a startup company that wanted to uses EngineY in an headless mode to provide social services to their application. Their idea was to use the services of EngineY but not any of its UI. This use case is well suited for EngineY due to its REST API, which is now even more complete and robust. All of the social features of EngineY are exposed as REST web services. This means that you could integrate rich social features into your existing web app and use your own user interface by integrating with EngineY at the service layer. This allows you to integrate the features offered by EngineY into any web application no matter what technology you are using. You are not restricted to Rails or even Ruby web applications. You will be able to just as easily communicate with the EngineY services from a Java, Python, PHP, or any other technology that you might choose to develop your web app in.

Your application and EngineY can be hosted and run on completely different servers, or on the same server, allowing for great scalability. Your application would talk to EngineY through REST services authenticated by a unique API key that is required for any API calls. Another benefit of having your social features already exposed through a REST API is that you can pass this API along to users of your application providing them with an instant API for developing against your app. You could then extend the EngineY API to offer application specific services to provide your users with a complete API.

Here is a sampling of the resources available through the EngineY service API:

  • Users
  • Groups
  • Events
  • Blog Posts
  • Forum Topics and Posts
  • Twitter-like Status Posts
  • Network Invites
  • Friend Requests/Accepts
  • Social Bookmarks

and more…

The ability to do all of this is available in EngineY today. You’ll find a link to download EngineY from GitHub by visiting the EngineY home page. If you are writing an application and looking to add social features and are intrigued by this idea, get in touch with me. I’d love to chat with you about it and maybe help you out.

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More Stories By Timothy Fisher

Timothy Fisher has recognized expertise in the areas of Java, Ruby, Rails, Social Media, Web 2.0, and Enterprise 2.o. He has served in technical leadership and senior architecture roles with companies such as Motorola, Cyclone Commerce, and Compuware. He is the author of the Java Phrasebook, and the Ruby on Rails Bible. Currently he is employed as a senior web architect with Compuware in Detroit, Michigan.

Follow Timothy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tfisher