Facebook API and the Future of Social Networking

It is very frustrating to work with a framework system where you cannot get the examples to work properly. It makes it a very time consuming process in getting things to work.

Over the last few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time working with the Facebook API for several different implementations. Logically, I first looked for documentation in how to work with the system to do what it needed to do. That is when I encountered the fact that there are many different ways in using the system, but there is not a lot of clear documentation.

So you might find some good examples, but most of them don’t tell you the whole story (at least from a new user perspective), and so you move onto something else that looks like it will work. Or you come across an example that is not updated with the latest API updates.

What I didn’t know at the time was how much I would learn from trial and error. I am not opposed to learning things this way, but when you have deadlines to meet and customers to make happy, this can be a major roadblock.

It was my understanding that the only way you could create a new tab with content was to use the Application Tab option. That works, but it limits you in how many characters you can use for the tab (which is 16), and in this specific scenario, the client wanted a longer tab. So I ended up coming across Static FMBL which makes it easy to create a new tab and paste in HTML/FBML for simple implementations. If I new about this from the beginning, this would have saved a lot of time.

I also had some strange IE7/FF compatibility issues when using Facebook Connect. I think this had to do with their JavaScript library being a bit flaky.

With all that said, I do think Facebook is brave in opening up their system to other web developers like this. Ever since a few years ago, I’ve been a huge fan of what Facebook has done to the online social networking market (especially when compared with Twitter). I’m very excited about them realizing their weaknesses and pursuing ways in eradicating them. This is obvious to me in taking a look at their road map. If they can create more user friendly and reliable documentation and re-work their JavaScript library, I think we could easily enter the “Era of Facebook”.

I personally am betting that Facebook is going to continue to grow while Twitter is going to phase out. I could be wrong about this, because Twitter seems to have a very dedicated geek following. But then again, part of me feels that Facebook can be too personal (depending on how people use it). I just am bothered by the character limit Twitter imposes. There are some thoughts that I want to share that are more than 140 characters long.

Only time will tell in how this new market shapes and what most of us will end up using in the future. For now, I’m betting most of my marbles in Facebook…