I recently had a chance to ask Jesse Stay, author of FBML Essentials a few questions about his book and just why it's so important right now. His book revolves around the fundamentals of the Facebook Markup Language--Facebook's version of HTML--which makes it easy to develop applications specifically for Facebook. But Jesse can explain much better than I all of what the book entails. So without further ado, here is my interview.
Jesse, in your book, you make FBML sound so easy to pick up and learn. The back cover even says that if you know HTML, you can learn FBML. But if FBML is so intuitive, why is it necessary to have a book explaining it?
There [is] a big need for a print version of what was mostly only available online at the time. Joseph Scott, developer at Automattic was kind enough to send O'Reilly my way (I was close to finishing my first book, I'm on Facebook--Now What???, at the time), and I jumped on the opportunity. Having a reference [you] can quickly turn to, with tested examples and pictures should be helpful for any developer trying to learn the essentials of FBML and the Facebook platform.
So, why now? Facebook applications have been around for a few years--why is your book crucial now?
With a new design (Facebook Connect) recently announced, and near 1/2 million developers writing for the Facebook platform currently, Facebook development is quickly becoming the new "Microsoft" of software development. I predict a future where Facebook will have a part in most of the websites developers write, whether on Facebook or outside of Facebook. Developers, especially those new to the Facebook platform, need a book like FBML Essentials to guide them as this new wave of software and web development emerges.
Is your book geared mainly toward experienced Facebook developers? Or could someone just learning Facebook benefit from it as well?
[But] seasoned Facebook developers should benefit as well. In this book is a reference to every single tag in FBML (minus 2 that just came out in the last week or so), along with several tested examples and descriptions that are not available via the Facebook Developers Wiki or elsewhere. My hope is that developers can take what they learn in this book and even contribute back to the developers wiki!
All right, so we've covered who your book can benefit and why it's important now, but what do you see in the Facebook's future concerning FBML? Will it be short-lived? Or will this information continue to be essential for years?
FBML is only the beginning of your adventure in Facebook Development. Reviewing and knowing what tags are available will help save you time as you develop on Facebook, as well as headaches as new design changes emerge. This book will be extremely helpful in achieving that knowledge you need to get started.
The future of Facebook itself is incredible. Yet to be announced is a new Facebook payments platform, along with a slew of new websites integrating with the authentication, Friends lists, profile information, and more that Facebook provides. The view of the web itself for many people will become Facebook, some without them even knowing it. Add to that business and Enterprise integration you have a pretty valuable tool at your hands! Once you get started with this book you will want to learn what else is available - check out the Facebook REST API, and especially the just announced Facebook Connect Platform. All of these will only expand what you can do with the information stored on Facebook.
Lastly, if people want to contact you with questions, how do they go about doing that?
I call myself the "Social" Geek - I'm a Developer you can talk to. I consult for a living, and have a team of developers and consultants that can help your business grow on Facebook. Contact me if you'd like a quote or some ideas! I have consulted for some of the top 100 applications on Facebook, and know what makes a good application on Facebook tick.
I blog regularly at StayNAlive.com (my most active blog at the time), OpenSocialNow.com, and FacebookAdvice.com. I am also a regular guest-blogger at LouisGray.com. Expect to see me guest-blogging soon for sites like InsideFacebook.com as well.
I'm also especially accessible for my readers, if they have any questions while they read. Contact me on identi.ca at identi.ca/jessestay or FriendFeed, friendfeed.com/jessestay and I'm happy to try and help as I have the time to do so. Also, come join the discussion on our Facebook Page - page.fbmlessentials.com.
And for those of you who have always dreamed of creating a Facebook app but haven't had quite the expertise to pull it off well, here's an opportunity for you to learn FBML. Leave a comment describing the application you would build and how it's different from the rest of the hundreds of Facebook applications out there, and in one week I will arbitrarily choose a winner (or two) to receive a free copy of Jesse's book.