Integrating Qrimp Apps with Facebook

Posted: 12/29/2007 11:15:00 AM
I thought it would be interesting to see if Qrimp could integrate with anything and Facebook is the test. Turns out, Qrimp is the easiest way to build Facebook Apps.
Today I thought, "If Qrimp is such an awesome platform, surely it'll be able to integrate with Facebook." So I grabbed Tara, because she has a Facebook account and we set off to create a Facebook app with Qrimp. After wading through the documentation, here's Tara's Facebook Qrimp App, which took about 5 minutes to build after we found Jonathan's post on Facebook Application Basics.

I won't get into the details of how to do it here, but we posted a Howto: Build a Facebook App from Qrimp topic over at the Qrimp Developer Network. Go there for the details.

The Experience

First of all, how many people know what a Callback URL is? What percentage of those people are not programmers? Exactly. Building Facebook apps could be a whole lot easier. They need to make it easier. I suppose it's easy enough if thousands of apps have already been built for it, but as I've said before, Facebook is limiting its potential with such a difficult to use system. As Paul Graham says:
It's worth trying very, very hard to make technology easy to use. Hackers are so used to computers that they have no idea how horrifying software seems to normal people. ... When you work on making technology easier to use, you're riding that curve up instead of down. A 10% improvement in ease of use doesn't just increase your sales 10%. It's more likely to double your sales.
I don't even know why I'm offering this advice, because I have no respect for Facebook, especially if Zuckerberg is as dishonest as they say, but the plaintiffs do look kinda like a-holes. I think in general, social networks are the new opiate of the people.

The proof is in the numbers

At the Web 2.0 Summit, Zuckerberg said, "We have 6,000 applications and 100,000 developers." That's over 16 developers on average, per application. With a ratio like that, the developer pool will be quickly exhausted. For web platforms to succeed, we'll need to see that ratio come down -- way down.

I don't mean to be overly critical of Facebook and other social applications. I just don't see the value in them. Perhaps it is my introverted nature. Perhaps it is my focus on earning time over wasting time, a topic I might get into more detail on later. Qrimp is a time earner, so it might not be a good idea to integrate it with a time waster like Facebook, but my goal was to test the integration of Qrimp with an arbitrary system over which I have no control -- Facebook fit the bill.

I also recognize that integrating applications with Facebook and other systems can be much deeper than our proof of concept, but doing this with Facebook is not a priority for the Qrimp team right now. Many of our users may want to go further down that road and I leave it to you or them to do it. If you do, I would be vainly interested in seeing what you've done, so let Tara know and she can log into Facebook and check it out.

In all fairness, I thought it would be more difficult than it was. I also learned more about Facebook in the process -- this is was the most I've ever used it. I see a lot of room for Facebook to improve their "platform." I actually don't think it is a platform at all. I see it as an API. A platform lets you build your own applications. Facebook lets you integrate your application with Facebook. Mark Andreessen says Facebook is a Level II Platform. Mr. Andreessen breaks the term down into multiple levels, but Wikipedia's definition of Platform wouldn't include Facebook. I think Mark was being kind to those who call themselves platforms, but really aren't. I might be in the minority on this, sure, but I sometimes think that marketing has more influence than sense. It might just be a lack of sense that gives marketing its power.