Portable Contacts API and VRM

The looks to me like it could (and maybe should) be one of the open source building blocks for VRM. Read this piece by David Recordon, and watch this video. If you love energetic hack-a-thons (and you should; much of the code we all use was born in these fecund environments), there’s much to be encouraged about.

Key excerpt:

Joseph Smarr and Kevin Marks of Google hacked together a web transformer that integrates Microformats, vCard, and the Portable Contacts API. Given Kevin’s homepage which is full of Microformats, they’ve built an API that extracts his profile information from hCard, uses a public API from Technorati to transform it to vCard, and then exposes it as a Portable Contacts API endpoint. Not only does this work on Kevin’s own page, but his Twitter profile as well which contains basic profile information such as name, homepage, and a short bio.

Brian Ellin of JanRain has successfully combined OpenID, XRDS-Simple, OAuth, and the Portable Contacts API to start showing how each of these building blocks should come together. Upon visiting his demo site he logs in using his OpenID. From there, the site discovers that Plaxo hosts his address book and requests access to it via OAuth. Finishing the flow, his demo site uses the Portable Contacts API to access information about his contacts directly from Plaxo. End to end, login with an OpenID and finish by giving the site access to your address book without having to fork over your password.

I suggest lining up a session or two at IIW to connect the Portable Contacts API and related VRM work on items such as personal data stores.

Thoughts and connections in the meantime are welcome as well.

Hat tip to Keith Hopper.


  1. Joseph Smarr

    Doc-thanks for the kind words, and we’ll definitely be talking about Portable Contacts at IIW! I agree that it should be useful to VRM, since the whole point is to put the user back in control by giving them access to their contact info from any site, which they can then feed into any other site they want. I think also at a diplomatic/business level, once there’s a clear, widely adopted standard for giving users access to their contact info on your site, it becomes less defensible to keep that data trapped inside the vendor’s tool.

  2. David Recordon

    Would love to talk about Portable Contacts at IIW. Count me in!

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