Santoriello Studios 2000 to 2012
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Buh Bye FBML. We’re Dancing on Your Grave.

It’s very easy to spend days wallowing in pity and/or loathing Facebook if you’re a developer. Especially “back in the day”. The Facebook APIs were convoluted and undocumented. You had to write “hacks” to work around all the bugs. Their backend would crash, rendering you unable to work for days at a time. And they would release buggy code that would mess up perfectly good applications you proudly wrote, pushed live and forgot about months ago – without warning. OK, I guess all of this is still true today :) , but to a lesser extent.


Up until now, you had a huge, daunting decision to make if you were going to build a Facebook app – would it be an FBML (Facebook Markup Language) or iFrame application. Oh my! Who the hell knew which was better. This one, seemingly big decision made up-front would determine what functionality you could have and what languages you could use to write your code. There were lots of opinions on the topic. Facebook used to claim FBML (their proprietary coding language) was faster, providing a better user experience (they were proved wrong). Others made the case for iFrame apps claiming the few bits of FBML functionality offered were buggy and you’d be forced to create code that could not be ported to sites outside of Facebook.


Well, Facebook finally came to their senses and decided to kill FBML. Kind of. As of March 11 you can no longer create an FBML application, nor can you install or use the very popular Static FBML application that allows you to use HTML on your Facebook page. However, existing implementations of FBML code will continue to work for an unknown amount of time.


Killing FBML allows Facebook to focus on their much better developer tools – OAuth 2.0 which is used to authenticate users, the Graph API which is used to retrieve and post data, and the JavaScript SDK which allows you to tap into the Graph with Javascript. OAuth and the Graph really simplified a lot of the convoluted code we used to deal with, and make it a lot easier to write an app. Expanding and improving upon these platforms will be time well spent.


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Mar 9, 2011
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