AOL Launches Web-Based AIM APIs, Widgets

As AOL's instant messaging service continues to change into an open program, the company gives users the ability to add AIM functionality to their Web sites and online communities.

America Online announced Nov. 2 the beta release of its Web-based AIM APIs and widgets, called AIM Whimsicals, which will allow users to add Web-based instant messaging functionality from the AIM service into their Web sites and online communities.

The new Web AIM APIs and Whimsicals are additions to AOLs Open AIM program, which was launched in March of 2006 to let developers construct AIM plug-ins and AIM user interface applications and incorporate AIMs presence into Web sites.

Stephen Benedict, principal product manager for AOL, based in Dulles, Va., told eWEEK in an interview that with the Web AIM APIs, "developers can easily create new compelling Web-based applications, services and mashups that incorporate AIM functionality and other opportunities to extend the AIM experience for users."

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about AOLs moves to open AIM to developers.

"Web AIM brings the core set of AIM functionality to the Web," he said. "It complements the existing Open AIM tools that are currently available."

According to Benedict, "Web AIM provides developers with the following features to help them integrate their Web [sites]: Users will be able to set their availability, away message and profile settings, which will allow their contacts who are visiting their sites to view users online, idle and away times; users can send and receive instant messages right from their Web pages; users will be able to access and view their own Buddy List features; users can access and edit their buddy icons, wallpaper, smileys and sounds.

"Users benefit by being able to use and experience AIM in more places to interact with the people they care about the most," Benedict said. "The highly relevant communication, sharing and social networking interactions that AIM provides offer users a richer Web experience."

/zimages/3/28571.gifGuru Jakob Nielsen offers advice on designing applications for usability. Click here to watch the video.

The new AIM Whimsicals, included in the Web-based AIM widgets, give developers and AIM users the ability to integrate AIM functionality into their Web sites.

"With AIM Whimsicals, were providing widgets that everyday users can easily add to a Web page by copying a few lines of HTML," Benedict said. "Were encouraging both developers and users to customize these widgets, mash them up with other services and build their own widgets."

AIM Whimsicals comes with the following features:

  • An IM window that lets users send and receive IMs
  • A Buddy List, which allows users to create mashups with their Buddy Lists based on user-defined criteria
  • The ability to let AIM users see buddy info, idle and away time, and user profiles

The Web-based AIM APIs and AIM Whimsicals are now available on AIMs Web site.

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