The online community MySpace is introducing tools for developing games, media-sharing features and other programs that better integrate with the Internet's leading social-networking site.
Wednesday's announcement follows a May decision by its smaller rival, Facebook, to open its platform to developers, a move that has proven to be a boon for music-sharing startup iLike.com, photo-sharing service Slide Inc. and countless other companies.
Those applications, in turn, have helped make Facebook even more popular, although it still ranks as the second most trafficked social network behind News Corp.'s MySpace.
MySpace will formally launch the MySpace Developer Platform next Tuesday with a kickoff event and workshop at its new San Francisco office. Although developers will have all the tools they need to create and test programs, they won't be able to integrate them right away. MySpace has yet to announce a start date for that.
The company said the program should result in innovations in how friends connect and communicate.
MySpace already has informally allowed developers to create interactive applications known as "widgets." The photo-sharing service Photobucket became so popular that MySpace's parent company bought it for about $300 million.
By creating a formal developers program, MySpace plans to give programmers "deeper access" to the site and the ability to "build richer applications as part of it," said Amit Kapur, 26, named Tuesday as MySpace's chief operating officer.
Such access could include tapping MySpace's data on its users.
Kapur said the company also would help developers earn advertising money through their applications. He refused to say whether MySpace would split the revenue, adding that more details would come next week.
MySpace officials also hinted at rules and procedures that could help the company avoid the kind of controversy Facebook has encountered with Scrabulous, an online version of the word game Scrabble and one of Facebook's most popular applications.
The Scrabble game's owners, Hasbro Inc. and Mattel Inc., are trying to shut it down and have jointly issued cease-and-desist notices to four parties they didn't publicly name.