Google Friend Connect (GFC) allows sites with these CMSes to integrate many social features without having to write any code. The impact of the integration has the potential to be significant, as Drupal in particular is one of the most widely-used content management systems in use on the Web today, powering sites from WhiteHouse.gov and NASA.gov to TheOnion.com and websites for celebrities and musicians like Britney Spears and Eric Clapton. Joomla is used by such institutions as Harvard, MTV and Citibank.
Friend Connect essentially allows site visitors to become site members by using profile information from services such as Google, Yahoo!, Twitter and more. With user accounts authenticated via OpenID, site administrators can add Friend Connect’s social bar, a site members gadget, the Friend Connect comments gadget or recommendations in any part of the site they choose.
In addition to adding social gadgets, Friend Connect also allows site admins to conduct polls, monitor community growth, create and distribute email newsletters, run ads through AdSense, export user data for a site’s entire community (as XML or JSON) or create their own apps using the GFC APIs.
“Even site owners without programming experience can add these plugins,” writes developer and open-source aficionado Mauro GonzÃ¡lez in Google’s Social Web blog post. “Now that Friend Connect is integrated with these popular open source CMS platforms, site owners can make registration easier for users and offer them a set of social features – all without writing a single line of code.”
GFC represents an interesting – and perhaps underused – suite of tools in an increasingly competitive space. Many site owners are adding social features to blogs and sites through systems such as JS-Kit’s Echo or Disqus, and Joomla and Drupal both have many extensions and plugins to allow for the same kinds of features and functions. Still, making GFC available for the CMSes that power many highly visible sites around the Web might do a lot of good for that product.
Overall, we see this announcement as indicative of a set of trends: Portable user identities, highly interactive content, portable communities and open-source software.
What do you think: Will more site users be integrating Friend Connect to allow for more social website experiences? Let us know your opinions in the comments.