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LinkedIn's platform loosens up

The professional networking site now lets developers access its API to import LinkedIn features into external sites.

Professional networking site LinkedIn's platform, previously a closed offering for select partners, has opened up to developers at large, according to an announcement Monday on the company blog.

Well, sort of. Building an embeddable widget on LinkedIn, unlike Facebook's, still requires a stringent application process. But LinkedIn's own code has now been opened up so that developers can integrate it into their own sites. It's launched a developer site for those interested in features that let site users access their LinkedIn profile and contacts externally. They still have to request a key to get into the platform's application program interface (API), which means that LinkedIn widgets likely will not be coming to office prank-calling Web sites any time soon, despite that they could make it much easier to robo-call your boss and ask if his refrigerator is running.

One of the first participants, for example, is desktop Twitter client TweetDeck, which says that it will soon allow users to plug in their LinkedIn contacts' status updates alongside Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace contacts.

LinkedIn has about 50 million users as of last count.