Facebook just launched, allowing developers to interact with Facebook through an API. This is a great step for Facebook. It will increase functionality as developers create new applications and makes the system more “open”. At the time of writing, there are already 2 applications in the “product directory”. One creates a photo mosaic of your facebook picture with your friend’s faces. The other is an expense tracking program. Neither are too exciting as of now, but the possibilities have just been opened. Check it out:
One key thing to note: the API does not allow the retrieval of member’s ever-so-crucial contact information (neither cell number nor email address).

My guess is Facebook is trying to protect its most valuable asset: a huge directory of contact information, while at the same time protecting its members from getting spammed as a result of the API. The API has a decent balance of allowing developers to do what they want, while still pointing a lot of traffic back to For example, you call pull a lot of information about friends, photos, walls, and so on, but anytime you want to let a user actually do something on facebook (write a message, poke, make friends, etc), they have to be directed back to the site. This makes sense in regards to security and Facebook’s business model. Nobody can really screw up their own facebook account through a malicious API, nor can anyone easily create a Facebook competitor.

I’m looking for good ideas for an application using Facebook’s API. I have a couple ideas already in dealing with photos, which I may try and implement if someone doesn’t beat me to it. I’m just wondering how long until someone makes a Facebook “Hot or Not” website.

Interesting: I just got my Facebook API key / “developer account” and was given an “app_id” of 151. So two products have been submitted to the directory, while 149 other people have received API keys already. It will be interesting to see how many of these turn into production applications, my guess is less than 5%.

I also like seeing the Facebook Developers Discussion Board. It’s getting to be active quickly and is a good place to keep an eye for applications in development.

I also believe Flock could benefit greatly from this by increasing its photo support from Flickr and Photobucket to include Facebook Photos, as well as notifications to wall changes, friend changes, etc. Note to self: email a flock community ambassador.

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  1. Richard Crowley said,

    August 15, 2006 @ 10:22 am

    This could be immensely useful as a generic login system for any site targetting college kids. But even if someone beats you to it, build your app. Who knows what’ll happen.

  2. David Sawyer said,

    August 15, 2006 @ 10:57 am

    I’d really like to see Picasa or even just something integrated into the Windows shell that allows a user to post pictures to Facebook. I find the on-site app to be frustrating at times.

    Also, how about a Relationship Status Update Alerter? Seems to be what most people like to keep tabs on anyway.

    And, I like the blog.

  3. Will Pate said,

    August 15, 2006 @ 2:39 pm

    Phil, thanks for pinging me. I just passed this around to the rest of the team at Flock :D

  4. Chuck Groom said,

    September 5, 2006 @ 2:05 pm

    FaceBank (now MoochSpot) aspires to be more than an expense tracking program; it keeps track of debts between friends, which, as BillMonk’s success has shown, is a very real problem within the college demographic. Now that BillMonk is also integrated with Facebook using these APIs, it will be interesting to see how the two services compete and grow. What’s most interesting is that having contacts is necessary for these kinds of social money systems; if you pay for the restaurant bill and later expect to split it with your Facebook friends, they’ll be annoyed if they’re not notified. Since MoochSpot demos the Facebook APIs, they have to live with this limitation.

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