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We are starting a project that will enable us to sell services to individuals over the force.com platform but from within a application that is in-house. I am writing the specification for the internal programmers but I am puzzled over something that I know as a SFDC admin: community users are created from contacts.

If my programmers are creating a new community user over (restful, I think) APIs what is the process? I know that the API call to use is create() and the first argument is the sObject to create as below (taken from another thread on salesforce.stackexchange

var client = new SalesforceClient();
var authenticationFlow = new UsernamePasswordAuthenticationFlow
(clientId, clientSecret, username, password);

client.Authenticate (authenticationFlow);

var user = new 
{
    Username = "email@domain.com",
    Alias =  "userAlias",
    // The ID of the user profile (Standard User, System Administrator, etc).
    ProfileId = "00ei000000143vq", 
    Email = "email@domain.com",
    EmailEncodingKey = "ISO-8859-1",
    LastName = "lastname",
    LanguageLocaleKey = "pt_BR",
    LocaleSidKey = "pt_BR",
    TimeZoneSidKey = "America/Sao_Paulo"
};

var id = client.Create ("User", user);

My question: If we create a contact and then create a user, what is it that we have to do to tie the users to the contacts (or vice versa)?

Is this a red herring? Should I be concentrating on this?

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    I guess you are talking about Customer Community Users right ? Because if you need to create Partner Community Users you also need an Account. For customer community users the answer of @geekymartian is correct ! – ManSpan Nov 19 '14 at 16:12
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User object has a ContactId field that ties it to the Contact record.

user.ContactId = yourcontactId;

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