After Facebook announced that apps can be deployed to Heroku, the cloud platform saw tremendous growth. It's on pace to add five times as many applications in 2011 as it had last year, likely fueled by being the only cloud service supported from within Facebook. The two companies introduced a new concept in developer relations, the "click-to-cloud" sample app.
There are now 559,000 apps on Heroku from 100,000 developers, according to the company. When Salesforce bought Heroku a year ago, there were only 105,000 apps, built up over the three years since it launched as a Y Combinator startup. With over 3,000 apps being added every day, when the ball drops on 2011, Heroku will have added over half a million apps.
The incredible growth makes some sense if you consider that one of the web's most popular platforms was made available to any developer with a single click. Facebook's new create application screen has the option to host automatically in the cloud. For now, it is only available with Heroku, which Facebook calls "the most productive, proven cloud platform for apps."
The partnership between the social networking and cloud hosting companies also created a new way for API providers to introduce sample code to developers. Forget copy-paste or downloading code examples. Just click.
Much as API consoles and inline "try it" functionality has re-birthed API documentation, click-to-cloud is the new sample app. Click-to-cloud requires no setup of a development environment. No fiddling with settings or anything else that can get in the way of the initial load, the "hello world" that gets you on your way.
Lowering the barrier for developers is an important aspect of platform adoption. Heroku and Facebook have been benefitted from click-to-cloud. We expect other providers, smartly, will copy this approach.