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Book Facebook Application Development with Graph API Cookbook by Shashwat Srivastava (2011-12-14)

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Facebook Application Development with Graph API Cookbook by Shashwat Srivastava (2011-12-14)

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  • Packt Publishing (1892)
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Read online or download a free book: Facebook Application Development with Graph API Cookbook by Shashwat Srivastava (2011-12-14)

 

Review Text

  • By Juwal Bose on February 6, 2012

    Sad thing to notice about this book is that although it is very well written, the Facebook APIs have changed a bit. So some code may fail to work. But still for the price it is well worth reading through as this will create a very solid awareness of how things work on Facebook.Reviewed by Vinod Kumar, developer of dozens of Facebook applications for Csharks Games.Facebook's Graph API is the best way to utilize its features. Even though there is a good documentation in facebook, it is severely lacking. This book is organized in a way that the reader can quickly go through each and every methods and features. It covers almost all aspects of Graph API related applications and features. There are some application samples which also helps us to understand how things are done when developing applications. Detailed descriptions with pictures are given on facebook application creation and settings processes.Javascript and PHP are the main scripting languages used to create applications or websites that interact with facebook. So being a Graph API cookbook, methods has been described in both PHP and Javascript. And for every methods exampled, author provides a link to the corresponding facebook documentation page. Every features of graph api are covered in this book, not only basics but also advanced features such as sending gifts,working with facebook credits etc.From basic things such as navigation in an iframe to advanced facebook virtual currency systems are also well covered. Chapters like Creating Advertisements and analyzing metric data, Facebook's new open graph are must read chapters for facebook developers and publishers. It includes viewing insights and our application statuses, application impressions. Author also demonstrates how to use google chart api with facebook metric data for the 'like' impressions. Facebook's Open graph is a beta feature that they have recently launched. There are helpful descriptions on what it is and how the open graph feature work and the new facebook timelines. The facebook concept of actions and objects are very well written. There is an example showing setting up an application for using facebook open graph beta starting from scratch. Some other chapters need to be noted are customizing auth dialog box, defining our website as a graph object and publishing actions of a user. Not only there are descriptions and examples but also the author describes how it works so that we will understand everything after going through most of the chapters.All facebook requests has some result data returned. I felt the virtual currency system not much easy as other chapters, because the author just shown all the codes and steps directly without the request results in many places. But this is not a problem if we try while learning by doing a print_r() php for all calls so that we can see the result array from facebook.Author also included FQL and how to use it. It is same as normal MySQL queries with some limitations. The applications demoed are almost identical in nature that only the api methods used are different. It was better if there was some examples involving a database and user data saving & loading etc. But there is an application called Sending a Gift which helps us to understand how to deal with facebook data and our web database if you can learn on.While we create and work with facebook applications, there are a lot of chance that things won't work as expected. So it was good if the author listed common problems that developers make or how to do things in an optimized way. And the book has no conclusion at all, but that is not a major concern because the goal of the book is almost completely achieved. The book expects the reader to know some PHP not in a beginner, but in an advanced level. So if you know some PHP/Javascript you will already be able to create facebook applications right from around the middle of the book.Hope this helps many aspirants create their great Facebook apps.

  • By Bob Belderbos on December 27, 2011

    I just finished reading Facebook Application Development with Graph API Cookbook. It provides over 90 recipes to create web apps with the Facebook API. The variety of topics and the amount of practical code examples makes it a useful reference for the FB API developer.The book is structured as follows:The first 3 chapters are a basic introduction how the API works: get the PHP SDK, set up your first (canvas) app, interacting with the social graph and how to query Facebook.Chapters 4-6 focus on Javascript: chapter 4 introduces the JS SDK, chapter 5 is about Facebook Dialogs, and chapter 6 deals with the various social plugins from Facebook that you integrate on your site (like button, activity feed, etc).Chapters 7-9 show a bit more advanced topics: integrating web pages (chapter 7), virtual Facebook currency to actually earn money through Facebook (chapter 8) and advertising / metrics data (chapter 9).Chapter 10 is the most fun: it shows some complete Facebook apps you can build with the APIChapter 11 is bonus and important moving forward: it shows the Open Graph Beta that was presented several months ago at Facebook's G8.Code samplesI didn't have time to play with all the code samples yet, but they form a great resource for both new developers wanting to get to know the framework, as well as the intermediate/advanced developer that wants to enhance his/her skills.Writing a FB API book is more than challenging knowing that the platform is updated very often. I found my FB apps broken this week because I didn't anticipated the oauth2 change that went live (announced on the Facebook developers blog). This might be an issue with the code samples, because I didn't see the "oauth: true" in the FB.init calls, which was the change I had to put into my apps last weeks to make them work again (more info about the fix here). Another example is the depricated $facebook->getSession() on page 15 of the book (now: $facebook->getUser() in PHP SDK 3.1) which I spotted on the author's blog post comments.This seems inevitable, and it means you need to be prepared to have the API documentation at hand and tweak (but hey ... isn't this the best way to learn anyway?). As the book is from November this year, there won't be many of these issues, but in 1 or 2 years time there might be, so probably it would be a good idea to release an updated version of the book by then.Kudos to the author for the amount of samples. I also think he did a good job of explaining them, and adding other technologies like PHP GD (image creation) and jQuery to pretty up the examples.Writing style and structureThe book is easy to read/follow. It goes through the concepts in a logical order, building new examples upon previous ones. It is not necessary to read it sequentially though. There are backreferences to prerequisites, so with some experience you can easily jump in anywhere. As with most of Packt's cookbooks the structure for each recipe is: "get ready -> how to do it -> how it works -> references", as with Yii's cookbook, this worked pretty well for me. It allows for both quick scanning of code (after all a cookbook really is a reference work) as well as detailed study of the examples.Open graphI liked the fact that the author paid some attention to the Open Graph Beta. I still have to develop my first App in it, and from what I've seen (Spotify, reading apps), it seems the way forward! Trivia: I actually contacted the author several weeks ago that I was going to read/review his title, asking him if he had seen the G8 conf and thus if he could do a chapter on the OG Beta. I got a prompt response and I am glad he put it in :)Learning by doingFrom a personal view, learning the FB API is about practicing, writing code, play with the PHP / JS SDKs and many methods the FB API has. The many examples suits this purpose well. Again, things change fast at Facebook, and usually announcing it on their blog, so if you are developing FB apps, follow the developers blog and use this book as reference making sure you also check the latest API docs.ConclusionI found the content and the way it is presented very useful. Although the book is brand new, there are already some recent changes in both PHP and JS SDKs that might affect the code. So make sure you check the FB API documentation.The advantage of this book over the API docs, is the structured format to learn the subject and clear explanations. It covers a wide range of topics in a reasonable size of 340 pages, including interesting advanced topics like virtual currency, advertising and metrics. The book's samples show a strong integration with the social graph (the real API's strength!), and a chapter on the way forward: the Open Graph Beta.So I can recommend this title to every developer that works with the Facebook API.


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