Connecting to the Facebook Platform, Page 2
Connecting to the Facebook Platform from the Outside
Then there are the applications that live outside of Facebook, but which would benefit from being tied to Facebook. You may have a standalone app that you don't want hosted with Facebook itself, but that you would like to connect to the Facebook platform. There are a number of tools for achieving this.
Open Graph Protocol
The Open Graph Protocol allows you to convert Web pages and other external objects into objects in the Facebook social graph. By means of Open Graph tags, you can turn your page into essentially a Facebook page. You've seen a lot of this lately, no doubt, on Amazon, the major Internet news sites, YouTube and so on. This allows websites external to Facebook to take advantage of Facebook's user population, distributing awareness of their pages to the Facebook community at the discretion of Facebook users.
Now we're starting to get down to it, with practical tools that enable your particular app to do the tricks that make Facebook applications a success. The Social Plugins are chunks of code that are easily configured and embedded in your app to implement that most familiar Facebook functionality. They include:
- Like (button)--Shares a Web page back to a Facebook user's profile page.
- Like (box)--Allows users to Like a Facebook page and view its stream from an external website.
- Send--Allows a user to share content from your Web page to their Facebook friends.
- Registration--Signs users up on your site via their Facebook account.
- Comments--Captures user comments on your site.
- Recommendations--Allows you to promote your website pages to Facebook users.
- Activity Feed--Displays a user's Facebook friend activity on your site.
- Login--Displays the pictures of a Facebook user's friends (who are already users of your site) when they log onto your site.
- Live Stream--Allows users to share comments during a live event.
- Facepile--Similar to Login, it displays Facebook pics of users who have Liked your page.
Social channels are high-level connection devices--person-to-person equivalents to the object connections happening in the apps themselves. With these channels, you can pass content from your app or website to the Facebook platform, allowing Facebook users to add their blessing.
The social channels include:
- News Feed. Move content directly to the News Feed, by means of the Like button, Feed Dialog, or the Feed Graph object.
- Requests. Allow users to make their friends aware of your content manually, or programmatically do so from your app by way of users who have authorized your app on Facebook.
- Automatic Channels. Facebook passively pushes traffic to apps and websites by means of bookmarks, notifications, search, etc.
This is most of the Facebook world, vast though it may be. There's a lot going on under the hood, but it isn't terribly complicated. Facebook has gone out of its way to be easy to use, easy to integrate with and friendly at the highest and lowest levels. The rest of this series will go down through these layers, one at a time.
Upcoming: a deeper dive into the Graph API objects and how to access and programmatically interact with them.
About the Author
Scott Robinson is a writer and speaker in the IT and social media fields. His eclectic career includes a decade as a systems engineer doing design work for NASA and the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, more than a decade designing software for business and industry, and years of teaching and speaking, research in neuropsychology and social psychology, and music journalism. His work has appeared in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone. He can be found at ScottRobinson99 on Facebook.