f8 – Page 2 – Stay N Alive

Facebook Launches Application Creation API

One of my biggest frustrations as a FacebookFacebook API developer of WordPress plugins has been the need to require my users to go out and create their own application in Facebook for their blog.  To do so they had to install a “developer app” on Facebook and know what forms to fill out after they did.  It was a lot of work and very difficult to explain to people!  Today Facebook launched a way to automate that process, their Create Application API.

According to the developers wiki, starting today developers of WordPress plugins and other 4th-party Facebook applications will be able to automate the process of creating applications on behalf of their users as “child applications”.  This means for the FBFoundations plugin I launched over the weekend I’ll be able to automatically register the user’s blog as an app in Facebook when they activate the plugin.  The user will only need to activate the plugin in WordPress, we’ll grab the API key and everything else, and there will be nothing more for that user to do.

Installing Facebook Connect WordPress plugins just got a whole lot more easy.  Can’t wait to play with this and see what others do with it.  Stay tuned for an FBFoundations plugin update that includes this.  Details are still vague on this, so I’ll update if anything changes – thus far we just have a few wiki articles talking about it.

UPDATE: See my version 2 of this post for an even more interesting perspective on this API.

The Open Web – Is it Really What We Think it is?

OneWebDayYesterday was OneWebDay, a day to celebrate the open web and bring more awareness to technologies. I just wrote about one thing Google is doing to make the web more open, something I strongly support.  I want to touch on something Facebook is doing which I don’t think is being fully appreciated.  And it’s not what you think it is.  First, I want you to watch this video – it’s Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote from Facebook’s F8 conference for developers last year.  Don’t read on until you see it or you may not understand what I’m trying to get at here.

In the video, Mark Zuckerberg states that Facebook’s mission is in “giving people the power to share in order to make the world more open and connected place.”   I want you to give that some thought. We’ve always talked about the open web being the opening up of content so everyone has access to it.  That’s the essence of the web. It has no borders or boundaries, and has no controls over it.  That is how it was built and how it should be.  The web is about linking documents to each other, and indexing those documents so they are easily accessible and retrievable by those that want to find it.  The traditional open web is about the power to receive.

Enter the social web.  Now we have all these social networks – Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Orkut, Hi5, LinkedIn, and many others all striving to redefine the web, each in their own way.  In the end each of these networks is giving a layer to the web which connects people instead of documents and in the end brings people together.  At the same time we’re indexing people, and from those people comes relevancy and documents which others can share with one-another.  Many argue that this method of indexing is even more accurate, because it is spread from person-to-person, and it’s real-time.

There’s one problem with the social web in terms of openness.  People don’t want their lives exposed.  They just want the documents they prefer to share with the world exposed.  In the end, because we’re dealing with people, there still needs to be some bounds of privacy, yet people should still have the control to make what they want open, open. Without these controls, there is no freedom, as people are required to completely expose their lives to reveal even a bit of content with the rest of the world.

This is why I think on the Social Web, “Open” is defined much differently.  I think Facebook sees this. In a social environment, the role of technology should be in making relationships more open, making the ability to share more open, not necessarily the documents people are sharing themselves. In a Social Web “Open” is about how “Open” you are to enabling your users to make the decision whether they want to make their documents public or not, and fully enabling them to do so if they want to.  The thing is, a Social ecosystem is not “Open” if it doesn’t give users the freedom to keep those documents private if they want to as well.

Facebook takes this new layer of “Open” to another level though. As of last year they have been branching out of their walls, enabling other websites to take these tools, giving each website the control to extend this level of control to their own users.  Now websites can take the existing social graphs of users and enable those users to automatically share what they want with their friends, respecting the privacy controls of those friends.  I should note that Google Friend Connect is doing similar things in that realm (albeit with less privacy controls, IMO making it a less “open” or “free” ecosystem to allow users full control of that data).

I think what we may be defining as a “Walled Garden” or “closed ecosystem” may indeed be the actual definition of “Open” on the social web.  Remember, it’s about opening up the control of the user to share all, some, or none of the content they want to share.  The more “Open” a system is to doing this, the more open users are to share data, the more open it is to having their friends see that data, and the more open it is to allowing others search for that data, while at the same time being open to letting the users that want to control that data keep it under closed wall.  The web has lacked this ability until recently.  In a true “Open” Social Ecosystem, if data is not available via search and other means, it is the fault of the users, not the network itself.  Data that is available to the web is the responsibility of the users, not the responsibility of the network itself. I think Facebook is the closest to this definition of “Open” out there right now.  I think that’s why they have over 300 million users and are still growing.

On the Social Web, “Open” is about the power to give.

<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-2489" title="I <3 the web." src="http://staynalive.com/files/2009/09/3929246011_9776c72b28_o.png" alt="I

Facebook, May I Please Have a Shirt???

http://seesmic.com/embeds/wrapper.swf

Okay, I’ll admit, I did beg and get an “F8” shirt from the booths (which I lost and I’m still bitter about), but any chance you could send me (or even let me buy???) a shirt with the Facebook logo on it (like the waiters were wearing) to add to my collection Facebook? Pretty please? 😉 (oh, and I promise no more silly posts like this in the future)

Facebook Confirms Launch of Platform on iPhone

Ben Ling just announced that the iPhone will be an official Facebook Connect launch partner. As I mentioned earlier, this is part of the developer course today. I’ll be staying tuned today to try and find out more information on how you can include Facebook in your iPhone App building process as the day goes forward.

SixApart Announces Comment Integration With Facebook

skitched-20080723-143258.pngIn an announcement about the launch of FacebookConnect, and going head-to-head with commenting services such as Disqus, IntenseDebate, and others, David Recordon from SixApart has announced the integration of MovableType comments with Facebook.

When commenting, the service recognizes your Facebook account and automatically takes the information from your Facebook account and posts it into your comments on your MovableType blog.

Your Facebook Photo gets automatically taken from Facebook and integrated right next to your comment. MovableType then links your comment back to your Facebook profile for others to learn more about you. Not only that, but SixApart automatically takes your MovableType comment and posts it back to your Facebook profile.

This is only the beginning of Facebook Connect and it will be interesting as you see more sites like WordPress, FriendFeed and Disqus doing similar things. The Social Web is truly becoming transparent.

Facebook Quietly Announces New iPhone/Mobile Platform

IMG_0001.PNGIn a recent blog post announcing the developer track at F8, Facebook made brief mention at the very end of one simple, yet very significant announcement. From the post:

7:00-7:45pm Made for Mobile

Jed Stremel and Pedram Kayani (Q&A with Joe Hewitt)

Mobile is everywhere. On Facebook Platform, too. These devices are opening up and creating new opportunities to build Facebook applications that extend beyond the Web, for ten million mobile users and growing (fast!). Jed, Pedram, and Joe give insights into mobile application development and show you how to get started using Facebook’s new development framework for the Apple iPhone.

It seems I may have been right, and we’ll find out for sure today at Zuckerberg’s keynote, but Facebook may just be about to launch an entirely new mobile platform for developers, starting with the iPhone. Of course all this is speculation at the moment, and the above mention could be referring to something else, but it’s looking more and more like mobile is Facebook’s future.

I will be streaming the event live via my Qik streams through my cell phone throughout the day. I’ve syndicated my Qik stream to StayNAlive.com so you can just pay attention here and you’ll get all the latest, live updates from F8, including the Zuckerberg keynote at 1:30pm PST. (Please forgive the lack of titles – I’m still working on that!) You can also catch the keynote via Facebook’s official stream here.

Oh, and btw, I just got the very first printed copy of my FBML Essentials book – if you want to see it in person, come look me up!

Just in Time for F8, O’Reilly’s First Book on Facebook Development Released

fbml_essentials_comp.pngI’m proud to announce that this week, just in time for Facebook F8 and OSCON, my book, FBML Essentials, will be available for purchase in print at most book stores. You can purchase it on Amazon here (be sure to leave a review!). It is scheduled to ship this Thursday, July 24th. You can also check it out online right now via O’Reilly’s Safari book store.

Some of the biggest Facebook bloggers and experts in the industry have also contributed their thoughts. Nick O’Neill, of AllFacebook.com and SocialTimes.com, contributed the Foreword for the book. Rodney Rumford, of FaceReviews.com and Gravitational Media, contributed the Afterword for the book. Justin Smith, of InsideFacebook.com and WaterCooler, was generous enough to provide a quote for the back cover (we’re hoping it made it in – I’m told it has). I’d like to thank them for their contribution.

FBML Essentials is essentially a very simple “nutshell” book that should give you all you need to get started with Facebook development in the FBML tag language, minus the API itself. It covers a howto on creating Apps from start to finish, using simple HTML and FBML to get a simple App off the ground. I go over different quirks with HTML and Javascript in regards to how Facebook parses them. I also cover the way Facebook talks to your servers, and provide a few suggestions on where to host and how to get set up properly and make your App viral. The final one half or so of the book is a thorough reference of almost (Facebook just added 2 more tags last week) every single tag Facebook provides, including examples, sample HTML that Facebook renders, and more. I even cover some unknowns (while maybe not so useful, but fun regardless) such as the tag, and tag. (yes, there are such tags, and as of the writing they work!)

If you are a web developer considering learning Facebook development, this book is a great start, and should point you in the right direction on where to go afterwards. If you’re already a Facebook developer, this book will be a great addition to your book collection, and you should be able to refer back to it often as a reference as you see need.

I imagine with today’s launch of the new Facebook design many may be wondering if the book is already out of date. Actually, I was able to get some of the last minute changes in response to the new design out in just the last 2 weeks, so this book is very up to date – O’Reilly has been wonderful to work with for this project.

Looking to learn how to write software on Facebook? FBML Essentials is a great start – pre-order yours now! Look for me at Facebook’s F8 conference this Wednesday – I’ll be shooting video, qik’ing if possible, and live-blogging where I can. Say hi if you see me around!

Ning Creator, Mark Andreesen, Announces Plans for Facebook Platform Integration

Picture 8.pngI’m sitting here at Web 2.0 Expo and watching the Mark Andreesen Keynote. One interesting thing he mentioned was that Ning (and others) has plans to launch onto both OpenSocial and Facebook platforms. This is the first I have been aware of plans outside of Bebo to utilize the Facebook Platform, and I believe a wise decision. The Facebook Platform is indeed one of the most popular and most used platforms out there, and therefore worth looking into as a Social Network looking for a standard to adopt. The question is, is Ning in talks with Facebook on this, and how far along are they in organizing this? Is this pure speculation? I am very much looking forward to Ning, and other Social Networks adopting the Facebook Platform as a standard. I’ll be posting the notes from the keynote next.