Zembly: Social Development for Social Apps – 100 Invites

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When I first heard about Zembly I got the wrong impression. I thought of Zembly as Yahoo! Pipes or Dapper for social applications. My expectation was that Zembly, which is still in beta and bills itself as a “place to create social applications, together,” would allow me — a non-coder — to whip out a Facebook or OpenSocial application with drag and drop simplicity. When I got a beta invite to the site, however, I found that I was mistaken. Zembly is none of the things I expected, but it is still a very cool service. We have 100 invites available for SitePoint users via the widget at the bottom of this post.

Zembly isn’t about making the process of creating a social web application easier, it is about making the process of collaborating on creating a social web application easier. Zembly is an online environment that allows you to create applications for Facebook, OpenSocial, meebo, the iPhone, iGoogle, and other widgets in a social environment.

Though there is some automation (the service can set up a standard blank application for you on your platform of choice), this isn’t an drag and drop app development platform like Yahoo! Pipes. You’ll need to know some CSS, JavaScript, and XHTML to create an application that does anything useful using Zembly. But that’s their target audience — developers who already know how to develop and are just looking for a way to do it together.

Clearly, that means I am not their target audience, so it was a bit hard to test Zembly from a developer’s standpoint. Zembly offers a development environment tuned to creating social applications. Users can invite collaborators on their application, and create services that can be shared, reused, and called from other apps.

Zembly is also aiming to become a repository of reusable social code. Public applications on Zembly can be cloned, allowing developers to piece together social apps from bits that already exist. “The whole point of Zembly is to reuse and combine not just what other people at Zembly create, but to rely on the APIs and data from anywhere on the web,” says the service’s web site, which already integrates with APIs from Amazon, Dapper, del.icio.us, Facebook, Flickr, Google Maps, Meebo, Twitter, Yahoo!, YouTube, Zillow, and Zvents.

Zembly, which is backed by Sun, claims that apps created and hosted on its back end infrastructure will be able to scale to millions of users. “When you create an application at Zembly, your application will transparently scale across our highly scalable infrastructure stack, without giving you the headache of having to make it all work,” promises the web site. For now, the site is free during the beta period.

If you can’t see the widget above, click here to sign up using one of SitePoint’s invites.

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