Facebook just launched developers.facebook.com, 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:
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 Facebook.com. 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.