Facebook Application Development Paperback – May 5 2008
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"This is a classic presentation that underlines its [Wrox] quality and standing in the computing world." (The Bookseller, Friday 14th March 2008)
From the Back Cover
Facebook Application Development
Developing Facebook applications requires a different way of thinking than traditional web site development. This book guides you step by step through the process, covering topics and theory that can be applied immediately. It also highlights the various challenges and possibilities that you may encounter as you create your own feature-rich Facebook applications.
The author begins with a look at the Facebook Platform and explores the Facebook application basics. Next, he provides you with an example application to demonstrate some of the introductory concepts. The core components of the Facebook Platform are also presented along with examples and common use cases. You'll then delve deeper into the Facebook Platform to learn how to extend and enhance the applications you've already built.
This book will help you complete several introductory projects and progress to more advanced concepts. It arms you with the tools and know-how to inject new features and content into the Facebook environment.
What you will learn from this book
How to create, configure, and develop an application on the Facebook Platform
Techniques for using Facebook API requests and responses as well as method definitions
Tips for working with Facebook Markup Language (FBML)
How to query Facebook using the Facebook Query Language (FQL)
Methods for utilizing the community-supported wiki and bug-tracker
How to integrate automated and scheduled tasks
Strategies to develop customized features for your application
Who this book is for
This book is for programmers who are new to the Facebook Platform or who have had some experience with it and want to go further. You should have an understanding of basic web technologies as well as some web development experience.
Wrox guides are crafted to make learning programming languages and technologies easier than you think. Written by programmers for programmers, they provide a structured, tutorial format that will guide you through all the techniques involved.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I bought this and FBML Essentials at the same time, hoping that the two together would provide a sufficient understanding of the api and mark-up language. This book, as described by the other reviewers, has many typographical errors, which of course can be a nightmare if you're relatively low on the learning curve (as I am/was). If you choose to buy this book, you should most certainly download the source code from the wrox site to accompany your reading (as it seems it to be error free and because the code snippets in the book often leave critical methods and files out.)
The greatest shortcoming of this book is its lack of applied examples... many of the more advanced features in later chapters are listed in almost dictionary-style format, with no illustration or example code to explain how the methods and such are actually written and how they might be applied. Again, if you're well acquainted with php, you may be less in the dark than I and thus able to conceptualize how everything fits together. This is definitely NOT a book for novices (I found the O'Reilly book, although short, to be a more effective introduction to development via FBML in this respect (though it doesn't touch much upon the api and other more sophisticated techniques broached in this text.)
That said, the fact that there is such scant information available for Facebook development make this book worth your consideration; but I would definitely consider supplementing it with a book like O'Reilly's, and couple it with a pretty thorough acquaintance with the developer's wiki on Facebook. Even downloading and stepping line-by-line through the footprints application from Facebook will help you get the sense of how this stuff works.
Also be forewarned that this, and most of the books presently available, are not written for the new Facebook API written this summer (2008)... so methods like require_add() are no longer recognized and throw errors... this of course can be quite confusing if you're new to all of this.
Using this book, the wiki, and O'Reilly text, I was able to make my first Facebook App that lets users feature a particular video pertaining to a charitable cause from a small library in their profile boxes and application tabs. If you're trying to do something basic like that, you should be able to do so with these resources. Good luck!
Gerakines' writes in a spare, almost terse style. There is no fat in his words. If you know nothing about programming, you will quickly become lost.
Chapter 1 is a thorough an overview of "Facebook as a Platform" as anything I've seen in my heretofore limited experience. Gerakines' direct style is effective in communicating information: "Facebook does not host the application, nor do the applications live on the Facebook network.' Important knowledge stated clearly and plainly. This chapter reviews what an application is, how (in broad terms) it interfaces with Facebook and the user, reviews some popular applications and discusses why you might want to create a Facebook application.
Chpter 2 is a tutorial on building your first simple Facebook application: a gentle way to familiarity.
Chapters 3 through 7 explore the different methodologies that can be used to develop Facebook applications. It is a very rich programming environment. While I have no plans to write a Facebook app (I am just learning the architecture), I was surprised by how extensive and flexible the Facebook Platform is. It is easy to see why so many people are excited by the possibilities.
These chapters are quite detailed and, if you have at least some experience with PHP, XHTML or XML, SQL relatively easy to follow. However, the examples are short. It would have been better if there were more robust examples.
The remaining chapters cover Facebook's developer resources, expanding the teaching application from Chapter 2, creating external applications, best practices and an appendix containing a PHP reference. The guts of the book are in Chapters 3 through 7.
Overall, this is a pretty well structured and written introduction to Facebook application development. It is somewhat more than a primer and far less than a thorough exposition of Facebook application development. Good for novice through very early intermediate Facebook application developers.
So it explains the Facebook Markup Language; a sort of-HTML. It lets you write graphics onto a Facebook page. FBML is not hard at all. As a markup language, it is much simpler than a full graphics language like OpenGL. The top level structure of the application involves you having your own server, that sends API requests, FBML code and queries to Facebook, which then filters these and, if things seem kosher, makes a dynamically generated Facebook page to be seen by an end user.
Sadly, the book is marred by sloppy editing. Just a few examples. On page 17, it talks about 4 different Canvas page request types. But it only shows 3 of these. While page 19 has "This application allows users to display and rank a list of other users on their profiles". There are 2 sets of users in this sentence, and it is unclear which set "their" refers to. The problem here is that it is clear to the author, because he has internalised all this, but it is simply ambiguous to a reader. Then there is an outright typo like on page 20, "... and customize the content that is display within the profile".
Meanwhile, embedded in the entire narrative is this repetitive structure - "allows users to comment...", "It allows Facebook users to display...", "allows the user to select...", "It allows you to invite...". This "allows ... to" is far too verbose. Simpler is to use "let", like "lets users comment" or "It lets you invite". The written text wraps concepts and is meant to convey these as effectively as possible to the reader, right? If you have to use a repetitive structure, it is better to make that as short as possible, helping the concepts be easier to parse. Shorter rather than longer.
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