Many developers dream of a successful Facebook application. Quite often, there are several hurdles to getting your application working right within the Facebook ecosystem. Facebook itself is here to help with some guidelines that cover error messages, caching and even how to test your app before platform changes go live to your users.
Facebook wrote the best practices guide based on the experiences of its top partners. The guide presents several points to look for in various Categories. All the Categories address technical areas like Error Handling, Logging, Caching and many others. It does not just end there. It even includes links to Debugging tools, How to report issues and guidelines on ensuring that you are proactive in getting notified about Platform changes and making sure that you are application can move over smoothly to newer platform versions.
For example, did you know that there is a read-only API tier at https://api-read.facebook.com that will lead to shorter round trips and a faster application? Or, the fact that Facebook pushes its changes first to beta.facebook.com, where you can verify that your existing API calls are not broken as part of platform changes? Another key area that gets highlighted in the guide is how to deal with errors gracefully and still make your application respond so that the user does not feel lost in the application.
This guide can play the role of a great “check-list” before you plan to release your next big application on its platform and even for existing applications. By adhering to these practices, applications can demonstrate common behavior that is expected by both the provider6 and the users from various applications in the Facebook ecosystem.
We are entering into a new phase where users have little patience with applications that do not work or respond in ways that they expect the best in breed applications to do. The platform providers know that users make or break their market and the last thing they want are poorly written applications. Given this reality, it is a matter of time, before each provider authors a “Best Practices” guide as part of its API documentation. Could it also be a first step of an approval process for applications? We have API limits already and the day might not be far before some other controls kick in, such as a checklist of requirements. And that might be a good thing, actually.
We had earlier covered a similar story titled Top 10 Things Every Twitter Developer Should Know. Do you know of other “Best Practices” documents from other providers?
Photo by Andy Piper