Playing with the Xing API

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):

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
  • etc…

 

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.

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9 Gedanken zu “Playing with the Xing API

  1. trackback to my site only works, if u have placed a backlink (wich is the point for trackbacking) in your post.

    nevertheless your mashup is pretty cool and i hope the api will be released that i can use it, too.

  2. I would like to know, if it is possible to get the email address of any „contact“. And if it is allowed to use the API, even if you are no customer of Xing/OpenBC.

    Because what I find most annoying are those people, who spread only their Xing-profile as kind of contact sheet. And without being part of that closed social network, you cannot contact them.

  3. Hi Dirk,

    yes it is possible to get the contact’s e-mail address – if the contact has made it available for you.

    What I’ve heard from officials, there are some legal and precise questions/topics to solve – of course it should be avoided that applications could harvest data that easy. I appreciate the lot of work everybody at Open Business Club AG is investing into the „design“ of the API and solving above data security issues.

    I could imagine that in future users have to permit/authorize (some kind of „Opt-In“) 3rd party applications if those applications want to access their data. Furthermore, I think it would be good if only „officially tested/certified“ (whatever that means…) applications could use the API.

  4. > Putting the business contacts on a map is boring but a good starter

    Actually that is the feature I currently miss most. When I’m on a business trip to a city I want to look up who is close by and might be worth a visit, is available for dinner or a night out or at least for a coffee during lunch break.

  5. Hello,

    I am interested in developing XING applications for LGE Mobile Application development under J2ME Platform / NetBeans IDE.
    Please elaborate with necessary API availability/support. How to make use of XING APIs onto our Java development for Mobiles.

    Further, please let me know the supported LGE Mobile Handset models available in the current market. I appreciate. Thanks

    – Narasimha

  6. Hi,

    very interessting. I try to find a example how to use the api, to connect to xing and read my contacts.

    had no luck searching web and xing, for such a piece of information. Do you have perhaps a good link/tip where I can find such a „Hello Xing“ documentation.

    As I understood they are using opensocial, but I could not find an information how to configure the access to xing.

    cheers — jerik

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