Next Stop, Facebook!

Back when Facebook first announced that they were creating their own platform for developers to create apps within the Facebook environment, there was a lot of excitement and I began to research how I might be able to leverage that technology in my regular work. As a web developer, clients usually want a presence not only as a regular website, but increasingly as an “app” on the various mobile and social media platforms as well. Having the ability to create apps within Facebook would be a valuable tool going forward, and there could be some interesting opportunities in that space.

Unfortunately, their first platform was very complicated, over-engineered, and required a large learning curve with their own markup language. Apps had to be pushed out to their servers which made integration with anything outside of their system difficult, if not impossible. I read a lot of documentation, wrote some code, and then gave up and went back to my regular work figuring that the platform was too limited and complex to be able to make anything within the budgets that my clients generally work with. Since then, I haven’t given it much thought.

Fast-forward to a couple of days ago. I spent this past weekend at NCDevCon, a conference targeted primarily at ColdFusion developers who are interested in networking and expanding their knowledge of ColdFusion specifically, and popular aspects of web development in general. I plan to write up a full recap of my NCDevCon experience in the near future for those that are interested. One of the sessions was focused called “Facebook Applications with CFML” presented by Andrew Schwabe. Since I had first looked at building apps on Facebook, their user count has grown by leaps and bounds. Companies such as Zynga are making truckloads of money on the platform. I saw that session on the schedule and decided to give it a whirl.

Andrew did a wonderful job presenting his experiences and shared some of the plumbing code to get us started. The big takeaway from the session is that building apps for Facebook is now relatively easy. Really easy. Stupid simple easy. The code that he’s shared takes care of a lot of the plumbing for you removing yet another roadblock. I’ve already begun to dabble with the code samples he released and have ideas on how some of the projects I’m involved with can begin to integrate directly with Facebook to increase their exposure and bring content directly to where the users are rather than forcing them to log in to another website. The sky is apparently the limit at this point.

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