Developers excited about Google+ have been waiting patiently for the full API since the social network launched in late June, but so far Google has only released chunks. The first was
for retrieving public posts (Sept. 15), quickly followed by the Hangouts API (Sept. 20) and most recently search and the ability to track engagement with public posts (e.g., reshares, comments and +1s -- Oct. 4).
Google Qualified Developer Mohamed Mansour, who's already made numerous Chrome extensions for Google+ and is part of the Hangout Academy team, got tired of waiting for Google to release the APIs he wanted for his already highly rated Circle Management extension (in beta). So he hacked his own "unofficial" version for Circles, Followers and Profiles and posted to Google+ saying the code was on GitHub.
Mohamed tells LAUNCH he has not received an official response from Google, only that two Googlers [ +Ed Chi and +Chris Messina ] cc'd colleagues in the comments of his post. We have asked Google for comment and will update if we receive a response.
Mohamed's API clearly delights other developers. "I've done some reverse-engineered APIs for Google Apps things that don't have official APIs yet (notably Groups and some esoteric Calendar features), so I can appreciate the effort that went into this. Congratulations!" wrote +Robert Norris, a hacker from Australia.
"Awesome work, but I wish Google made official API already. I would be much more comfortable to code to that," commented +Adi Rabinovich, who consults for large telcos.
To which Mohamed responded, "Same here, but I really wanted to create an extension 3 months ago, I waited, but no outcome, so I just did it :) It is pretty easy to use though, I am planning to do some more modifications to make it even more easier for extension developers such as cross extension communication."
In his Google+ post, Mohamed explained how he reverse-engineered the API: "It is really simple, Google+ is a beautiful real time web app. It gets its data through many XHR (XmlHttpRequest) calls. With the help of the Web Inspector, you can easily pinpoint each request. With each request, I analysed the ugly data, and made it beautiful. It was challenging reversing the data, for example figuring out the auth token, and locating the data, but the Web Inspector is powerful."
He also noted that you could make your own version of Google+ with the APIs. "I thought about creating my own custom stream which separates Hangouts, Photos, Posts into their own location, but +Mohamed Mansour has too little time :)" [ his day job is at Research in Motion. ]
Mohamed says his priority right now is to improve circle management -- which he says is becoming "unmanageable" -- and release the code he's been working on (he discusses his progress here).
"Basically instead of these ugly big blue distracting circles to manage your contacts, a less elegant yet more powerful way is being made," he says. "Some people use it to query Circle Data, move people to circles, automatically add people to circles."
Which unofficial API might come next? At the end of the comment thread of his post, he asks developers if they want support for Google+ Pages, which launched last week.
"I am wondering if anyone thinks that would be good to integrate, differentiate between normal people and pages. That might be the next thing. I am considering figuring out how Google manages the real time stream so I can hook up to it and create my own front page (stream)."