Xing is Europe’s leading Business Network with more than 2 million members. Recently, Xing announced that they would come up with an API later this year to get access to the network. As far as I know, Xing was developed by ePublica using Perl and MySQL.
Having an API is essential in these mashup days. I was invited to the private alpha test and implemented a reference implementation of an API client via PHP5 which behaves like SOAPClient (but uses ReST as the transport mechanism) and overloads the methods that are available.
Here’s an example of how to call it currently (API is subject to change as it is in an alpha state):
$client = new XingClient(XING_DEVELOPERKEY, XING_OWNUSER); // find my contacts and return some object properties $result = $client->userContacts(array('id' => XING_OWNUSER, 'attributes' => 'display_name,company_name,current_company,business_address,photo_urls'));
Currently, for security and data privacy reasons (I have to say that Xing has always been an example of how to protect their user’s data/privacy), the API lets me only access my direct business contacts and furthermore scrambles the personal data of the contacts.
In the last few days I had a bit time during a cold and wrote my own mashup – marking my Xing contacts on a Google Map. Click on continue to see some screenshots and a bit of explanation …
Here’s a screenshot of the map overview (click on the image to show it larger):
And here’s a screenshot of a contact detail (myself :-) ):
To conclude, using the API at the moment is very easy. Xing concentrates on providing a ReSTful API (while I would love to see a SOAP-based API first, I can understand why they chose ReST). Putting the business contacts on a map is boring but a good starter, but you can imagine several applications that could be possible:
- Synchronizing your contact’s data in your PIM tool (like PHProjekt, Lotus Notes, Exchange and the like)
- providing plugins for mailers like Outlook/Thunderbird/KMail/… that enable you to see if the sender of an e-mail is available in the network
- providing a connector to CRM tools like SugarCRM, Salesforce.com etc.
- exchanging your direct contact data with other social networks you’re in
- using a Map tool like Google Maps to provide a sales route planner
- provide an interface to Xing inside your corporate Intranet
I would appreciate feedback directly via e-mail, or if you’re interested in the PHP API reference implementation.
Xing is searching for developers who are interested in testing the Xing Server API. You can apply for developer keys there.
I will make my reference implementation public as soon as the API is more stable. Currently, it’s in our internal Mayflower Incubator repository.