These days, it is not uncommon to walk through your office and see a few people quickly minimize Facebook windows that they were surreptitiously viewing during work hours, or to get onto a train and see commuters updating their statuses from their smart phones or iPads. With the ever-growing popularity of Facebook has come the rise in requests for web developers to create Facebook applications (or apps), but what does this actually mean?
For one thing, web development for Facebook apps is very different to web development for general websites or even for mobile devices. There is a whole new language that developers must learn (known as Facebook Markup Language), as well as learning how to use the various platform components that are required for the app to work:
- The ‘Graph API’ is the foundation of the Facebook platform – it enables developers to read and write data into Facebook itself.
- The authentication component is designed to let the apps interact smoothly with the Graph API and to protect users.
- The social plugins (such as the ‘Like’ button) create shortcuts for developers to make their apps more social.
- The iframe component allows developers to create applications that run separately to Facebook, but are able to accessed through a user’s Facebook profile.
- The mobile platform is important for developers to understand if they want their apps to be compatible with Facebook for mobile devices.
If you are looking for a web development company to create a Facebook app for your business or personal use, remember that not all companies are going to be able to do this. A web development company that is able to create a Facebook app for you should:
- have at least a basic understanding of marketing principles. A developer may be able to create an app, but can they effectively promote it for you too?
- have some form of experience in creating Facebook apps. Find out how long they have been in the web development business AND how long they have been creating apps; ask for examples of past work if possible.
- have a good history of success with past apps going viral. In the online world, viral generally equals money.
It is important to keep in mind that web development for Facebook apps is very different to development for other more common applications. As a developer, there is added bounty of components that you will need to learn on top of all your other skills, and it is a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly.