Facebook Applications: The Basics in Java

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1 Facebook Applications: The Basics
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types of messages being sent to users Even so, requests are still an important part of any developer s toolkit for making a successful application
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Figure 111 All of a user s requests and invitations are listed on the Requests page, which is accessible from a user s Home page
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Extending Facebook
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Now that you know some of the basics of where you can integrate with Facebook, this section covers the different ways to accomplish it Facebook provides several options, and more options become available all the time
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Platform Applications
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Facebook Platform applications can be just about anythingThe common features they share are that they are web applications hosted outside of Facebook Users don t need to do anything specific to install applications they just need to authorize them to give an application access to their personal informationThis is, by far, the most popular method of integrating with Facebook, and it s the main focus of this book
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Desktop Applications
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You can also create applications that integrate with Facebook externally For example, the Firefox Facebook extension provides a lot of functionality of Facebook from within the Firefox browser, while not requiring the user to be on the Facebook site External applications require special privileges to allow users to remain logged into Facebook indefinitely on their behalfA popular Twitter desktop client has recently added functionality to set Facebook status messages using this feature
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Public Profiles
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Public Profiles formerly known as Facebook Pages or Facebook Fan Pages create Facebook presences for companies, celebrities, or brands, and were introduced to add to the functionality offered by Facebook Groups In March 2009, Facebook significantly changed Public Profiles to make them more like normal user profilesThey differ from
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user profiles in that there usually is not a single user that backs them, but a set of administrators Because Public Profiles don t directly map to single users, they don t have friends; they have FansWhen a user becomes a Fan of a Public Profile, he signs up for updates from that Public Profile that get published to his stream Public Profiles can also host custom applications Public Profiles provide one of the most important horizons for application growth as businesses and brands enter the Facebook ecosystem more rapidly
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Facebook Connect
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Facebook has dubbed Facebook Connect as the next evolution of the Facebook Platform It allows developers to integrate Facebook into their own external sitesThis technology allows a Facebook user to take his social graph with him across the web Sites that implement Facebook Connect allow a user to log into them with his Facebook credentials (see Figure 112) Once logged in, that site has access to the Facebook details for that user and gives that site access to the Facebook APIThis is incredibly powerful because it allows external sites access to the Facebook social graph without having to live within the Facebook user interface or have any of their content hosted on Facebook servers It s even making its way onto mobile devices Facebook released Facebook Connect for Apple s iPhone and iPod Touch, which gives the enormously popular iPhone applications a direct way to access Facebook Facebook Connect is discussed in 13, Facebook Connect
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1 Facebook Applications: The Basics
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Facebook Platform Core Components
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Along with its rich API, Facebook provides several components that allow application developers to easily replicate the look and feel of Facebook within their application and get access to all the data in the social graphThese components are based on existing wellknown web development languages like HTML, JavaScript, and SQL to make it easier for developers to be productive quickly
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FBML
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As previously mentioned, FBML is an acronym for Facebook Markup Language FBML is a tag-based language based on HTML It provides many of the tags supported by that language and provides a large set of Facebook user interface and programmatic primitives FBML is automatically parsed and translated into HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and JavaScript code by Facebook servers when a request for an application page that contains it is detected FBML gives developers access to controls that allow applications to look like they were developed as part of Facebook When an application is created, the developer must choose whether that application will support FBML It is always suggested that developers new to Facebook applications use FBML unless they have a specific need for a technology that does not allow it For example, if your application uses third-party JavaScript libraries that are over 64K in size, you cannot use FBML; you must use an IFrame-based application instead