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Facebook F8 conference


  • IB Adrian
    started a blog post Facebook F8 conference

    Facebook F8 conference

    Michael, one of our developers, was at the F8 conference where Facebook was sharing their new Graph API, and other features that they have released.
    We thought we would share some of the biggest changes that we encountered, and what it means for the future of vB, and its integration with Facebook.
    Our biggest take-away is the sheer strength of Facebook, as they are beginning to monopolize social networks, their “openness” to integration with other sources is much greater. (good news for forum owners!)

    ToS changed to allow saving user data indefinitely
    Before f8, Facebook would not allow 3rd party applications to store user information obtained from their FB for more than 24 hours. This meant that we could only pull a very limited set of information to store about our users when they connect through Facebook. Thankfully, they have removed this restriction. And so, among other things, this will allow us to auto-populate user fields (about me, friends, interests, etc.) when a user connects through Facebook.

    Facebook Connect and oAuth
    Facebook has simplified their authentication procedure by deciding to use the oAuth 2.0 protocol. This will mean very little in terms of end-user experience, but it will allow us to leverage a much simpler authentication process. Code wise, this will mean we can rely less on the Facebook PHP API to verify Facebook users, and more on our own code.

    Graph API
    The old API/PHP -SDK had applications pulling Facebook information through RESTful web services. But with the new Graph API, information is requested through regular HTTP requests (same as before), but now results are returned as JSON objects. This new API is designed to expose all FB data as a series of nodes and connections between nodes. Users, interests, groups, pages, etc. are all treated as these nodes, and querying information about nodes and their connections is uniform and relatively intuitive. While Facebook will still support the REST method for the time being, it is important we move to the Graph API asap. Not only will the old API become deprecated, we will also miss out on any additional functionality this API will provide in the future (right now, there is not much difference, functionally speaking).

    Open Graph and Social Plug-ins
    Facebook has come up with a protocol that allows external webpages to fit into their social graph model using meta tags. The basic idea behind Open Graph is that web publishers can add certain meta tags to their webpages that will classify the page according to FB's graph schema. Then, the publisher can add a social plug-in, like the "Like Button" to this web page. The web page then becomes a part of Facebook's social graph, and user's can "Like" your webpage, and it will show up in the user's "About Me" section classified by the meta tags from the page. There are many ways we can leverage this functionality with vBulletin, but off the top of my head I believe we can classify threads, blog posts, and articles with dynamic meta data about the content, add a plug-in (configurable from admincp of course), and allow users to share and discuss vB content from within Facebook. While this may seem like we lose traffic to Facebook, it will actually make vBulletin activity more visible, and should increase participation on the vBulletin boards.

    What this means for vB development, we will make our Facebook login integration compliant with the new graph API first, we will also implement a number of things that were thwarted in our initial scope by the 24hr data storage requirement. At a later stage we will look at the possibility of other social plugins (like the like button etc.)
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