Facebook became the largest worldwide social site in the middle of last year. If their current pace holds they will pass MySpace as number one in the U.S. some time next year. Those numbers have led a number of people to strike out and develop Facebook applications, hoping to grab a piece of that huge audience. One aspect of writing such applications is knowing Facebook Markup Language, which has been described as the icing on the Facebook API cake. FBML Essentials aims to be the resource that provides hopeful app writers with what they need to use FBML successfully.
FBML Essentials is a slim little volume in the world of massive technical books. The author, Jesse Stay has accomplished something many projects and authors can’t seem to avoid, scope creep. This little book stays right on target providing FBML documentation with a few extras as book-ends.
The reference portion of the book, as I said, is the bulk of this guide. This section does provide more thorough information than what one would find at the FBML tag section of the Facebook developer wiki. (Which sometimes holds contradicting information for the use of some tags.) There is not only a brief explanation and example but more detailed coverage of options and ramifications. Tags are also grouped in a way that takes into account functionality and what a developer may want to do. This means that while it might not be a thrilling way to go about it, one could read through the reference material in a topical matter while learning how to use FBML in applications.
The first two chapters, before the reference section begins, introduce Facebook applications, walk the reader through prerequisites for development and html considerations within the Facebook environment. This book assumes a solid understanding of markup and specifically html. There is an extremely brief treatment of hosting and general architecture of the Facebook platform.
There isn’t a whole lot here and that ought to be encouraging to anyone who would want to write a Facebook application but doesn’t want to invest a huge amount of time. Stay gives an example of building a simple application using nothing more than FBML. It’s nice to know that such simple functionality can provide one with an entre into a huge community of potential users. I am also glad that Stay was able to resist the urge to start pulling in every possible aspect of development for Facebook. Instead of a bloated guide the result is a compact and efficient guide to FBML, keeping costs down and avoiding wasted time trying to find what the reader needs.
The index is solid and I highly recommend this handy reference to anyone doing Facebook application development.
Title: FBML Essentials
Author: Jesse Stay
Publisher: O’Reilly Media, Inc.
Tagline: Facebook Markup Language Fundamentals