In spite of - or perhaps due to - its ongoing trials and tribulations, Yahoo! has done an admirable job of remaining on track with plans to open its platform to the developer community - plans that could mean the survival of a company that is among the old guard of the Web as we now know it.

Today marks a significant step forward in bringing those plans to fruition as the Yahoo! Open Strategy (Y!OS) team officially throws open the gates to a newly rewired and open Yahoo!, providing developers with unprecedented access to Yahoo!'s network and social data.

The Web 3.0 Conference gave us an early glimpse of these efforts a few weeks ago, but this formal launch provides a great deal more detail on what we can expect.

What does this offering mean to developers? It means Yahoo! now provides the ability to "tap into benefits once only available within Yahoo!. Namely, you can leverage the content, traffic, and user base of Yahoo! to extend your presence on the Web."

According to Yahoo!:

"Most obvious will be the social aspects. At a high level, we're rolling out a social platform that will draw on the hundreds of millions of connections on Yahoo! - everything from random encounters with someone who commented on the same photo as you, to deep connections you have with friends who know nearly everything about you."

Specifically, developers gain access to the Yahoo! Application Platform (YAP) , Yahoo! Social Platform (YSP), and Yahoo! Query Language (YQL), a proprietary query language. All of the services are accessed via OAuth, a standard authentication protocol that - according to ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick - is "a big ingredient in a recipe for innovation, in the form of mashups or otherwise."

Clearly, Yahoo! is hoping to benefit from the same types of "open API" strategies - outsourcing R&D as it were - that have helped Web 2.0 startups thrive in this new open era. And they've had a wealth of Web 2.0 talent at Yahoo! from whom they have learned - acquisitions like delicious, Flickr, MyBlogLog, and Upcoming, to name a few.

So where do we go from here? It seems that the sky is the limit. But one thing is for sure: by providing developers with access to the core Yahoo! set of functionality and allowing them to mix and match it with the variety of open data sources out there in the wild, things begin to get very interesting.

Interesting enough for Yahoo! to remain a viable entity? That remains to be seen.