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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! and a Great Start for Facebook Development with Flash,
This review is from: Facebook Graph API Development with Flash Beginner's Guide (Paperback)I've been so lucky to get a free copy of this book for review, and I must say: If you want to get into Facebook development, I would recommend this book to you!
*** Overview ***
You might be thinking: "Isn't this book only for Flash developers?" - Nope, it's also for everyone else who wants to learn how the Facebook Graph API works. It even has a chapter on the more advanced FQL (Facebook Query Language). Even if you have developed Flash applications for Facebook before, I'm sure you can find a lot of good tips in this book!
It's very easy to follow, and include all the basic information you need to know. For each chapter, it goes though the general theory of the API (with examples), and then straight into how to actually use it.
I would say this is a complete book for creating a Facebook application, with one little exception:
Deployment - at least I experienced some trouble when I wanted to deploy my test application, but even though I had some trouble with it, I wouldn't say it has an impact on the overall quality of the book - it's still superb! (You can read my solution here:
*** Code ***
It features code for FlashDevelop, the Flash IDE and Flash Builder, so no matter what you're using to code, you should be able to follow this book. It even has two folders for each chapter with code, one you can start out from, and one with the end result.
This book is not about how to display the information you receive from Facebook. This is all handled by an UI the author supplies in the downloadable files. This is about how to get data from Facebook.
The book uses two different methods for integrating with the Graph API, the official Adobe SDK, and a version the reader builds them self.
*** Content of Book ***
The book goes though getting basic information about anyone from Facebook, then getting authenticated so you can access information about the current user, to being able to get almost all the information Facebook has about the current user (if he allows it).
Then it goes on to show how to add data entires to Facebook (posts, photos, albums, events, RSPSs, notes, likes, comments & checkins), and the few things you can delete from an application.
It has a dedicated chapter on FQL (Facebook Query Language), which is a more advanced way of obtaining information from Facebook, that has some other possibilities - but also limitations.
It ends off with a chapter with some very different information, how to deploy, edit and adjust your application on Facebook, how to integrate with AIR/Android, the Mochi Social Platform (for deploying on game portals) and other cool things!
So if you're want to get into Facebook development, I would buy this book!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Information for Flash Devs Looking to do FB Work,
This review is from: Facebook Graph API Development with Flash Beginner's Guide (Paperback)I am a Flash Platform developer who has created more FB applications than I care to recall. And I can honestly say that not once have I enjoyed it. 99 times out 100, the problems I have with Facebook applications stem from Facebook itself. It seems the API and terms of service change on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis. The documentation is horrendous and filled with code examples that simply don't work. The developer forums are filled with perfectly valid questions from frustrated devs that go ignored by FB administrators for days, weeks or just indefinitely. And the bug tracker at times seems overflowing with bugs marked as resolved which still regularly occur. And rather than hammer out all the problems with core functionality, Facebook spends its time trying out then removing new features such as the ability for app developers to acquire users addresses and phone numbers.
But for all its problems, Facebook applications aren't, by default, a bad thing. And when Michael James Williams offered me the opportunity to check out a copy of his new book "Facebook Graph API Development with Flash", I jumped at the chance. Rightfully so, it seems. It turns out this book is a tremendous wealth of information. Whether you're just getting started or you've got a few hundred notches in your Facebook app belt, you're bound to find something useful in this book.
One of the first really nice things you'll notice about this book is that it's development environment agnostic, at least as much as a book can be expected to be. When you download the related support files you'll find you get all the sample code laid out for the Flash Professional IDE, as a Flashbuilder project, or, my personal favorite, as a Flashdevelop project. So, regardless of your usual Flash workflow, you're bound to find some working examples that fit your style.
The book starts off assuming you know a decent amount of Actionscript 3 coding, but nothing about Facebook development. You'll begin right off by making Facebook Graph API calls and examining the data and structures returned. You'll see how to easily convert the returned JSON objects into useable Actionscript objects (using classes from Adobe's as3corelib library openly available on github). And by the end of Chapter 2 you're basically already building a Flash powered Facebook application - easy peasy.
The demo application that you build as you follow the book, while not exactly an exciting application in its own right, does a fantastic job of not only showing how API calls are made and returned but at visually demonstrating the various connections between Facebook objects - and connections are really what the shiny new Facebook Graph API is all about. Along the way, you'll not only learn how to write AS3 that integrates with Facebook from scratch but also how to use the 'official' Adobe/Facebook SDK. And the pop quizzes at the end of each chapter help get you thinking about the info you just learned as well as help that info `sink in' (though, I have to say, I wish the answers to the quizzes would have been included at the end of the chapter. I read the book on a Sony eReader and flipping to the end to see if I had the answers right or not was not really an option).
For me personally, though, where this book really shines is in its introduction to FQL. Out of all the FB apps that I have built, I have never actually used FQL and can't even say why other than I never bothered to learn it. Now though, I can see how previous apps I have worked on would have seriously benefitted from it. In fact, I am actually looking forward to my next FB app, just so I can give FQL a whirl. If, like me, you have experience building Facebook apps with Flash, but have never bothered to learn FQL, this section of the book alone is worth the price of admission.
Another section of the book that came as quite a pleasant surprise was a quick look at how to integrate Facebook functionality into an AIR for Android application using the StageWebView. This is very valuable and timely information I look forward to putting to good use.
For as good as the book is, though, it isn't immune to all the problems with Facebook I mentioned previously. There are a few notable places where Michael provides some code examples then basically says, "This should work, but it doesn't. Maybe the folks at Facebook will fix this soon. Or maybe not". For example, just last week I was asked to integrate a Flash Facebook app into a tab of a fan page. After reading all the Facebook documentation and trying numerous things, I couldn't figure it out and settled for putting a static jpg image in the fan page tab that linked to the application page. So, needless to say, when I saw the chapter heading "Adding an Application to a Page Tab" mentioned in the table of contents, I was pretty excited. When I finally got to that section in chapter 8 though (I don't like to skip around in books, I read it straight through), I was more than a little perturbed to find this: "...it doesn't [work] at time of writing. Currently, tabs require FBML, rather than IFrames. But by the time you read this - and as already mentioned above - tabs will not accept FBML and will require IFrames. The documentation explaining how to incorporate IFrames into tabs does not exist yet, and it can't be tested, so unfortunately this book cannot explain how to do it. Sorry!" Well, at least that made me feel a little bit better about not being able to figure it out myself, but it doesn't really bolster my opinion of Facebook development in general.
All things considered though, if you do any Flash / Facebook integration, I definitely recommend giving "Facebook Graph API Development with Flash" a read. You will certainly find something there that will make your life a lot easier. As the book itself indicates, it doesn't just simply throw a collection of code snippets at you, but gives an insight to the structure and organization of Facebook data, making it a little less stressful to deal with the inevitable changes you are bound to run across when developing for the FB platform.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Facebook Graph API Development with Flash,
This review is from: Facebook Graph API Development with Flash Beginner's Guide (Paperback)Facebook has changed a lot over the past few years. Most important is the new Graph API, introduced April 2010, and how it simplified developing apps for Facebook. Many businesses, large and small, are adding their branded apps to Facebook. It's not surprising that Flash developers want to get involved in the Facebook craze. Facebook Graph API Development with Flash by Michael James Williams is for the Flash developer who knows nothing about Facebook.
The book is presented as a beginner's guide and this is true as far as the Facebook aspects covered. However, this is not true for the Flash aspects covered in the book. The author assumes that you are familiar with advanced Flash application development. If you have no experience in this area, you may find the last two-thirds of the book difficult to understand. However, if you are a Flash developer who needs to learn how to integrate Flash projects with Facebook, this book can help.
The author supplies a pre-built Flash project called Visualizer which contains the ActionScript class structure and the UI for the sample application. These sample files are downloadable from the publisher's website and compatible with Flash Builder, FlashDevelop and Flash CS3 and above. Williams progressively builds upon this basic application throughout the book.
I really enjoyed the author's teaching approach. As he introduces each new Facebook concept, he first explains how it fuctions via a web browser. After you have an understanding of how the Facebook feature works, he explains the code in the Visualizer project that will perform the same task.
The first few chapters cover the basics for building a Facebook application including setting up a website for your application, exploring the Facebook Graph API and registering your app on Facebook. He then covers what you will need to build, test and debug your AS3 project.
It's the Facebook Graph API and Facebook's FQL that will pass information about the user to your application. Williams explains the available information that can be accessed by your app and how to code these requests with ActionScript. At this point, he introduces the Adobe ActionScript 3 SDK for Facebook. Williams then explains the options for integrating your app with Facebook including iframe, FBML, the page tab and from your website. He also covers authorization through AIR and on Android.
Finally, you are ready to publish your app to Facebook. Williams gets back to basics again as he discusses creating a profile page for your app and the Facebook Application Directory.
Michael James Williams is a Flash developer and technical writer for Activetuts+. He also has a Flash game development blog
*Packt Publishing provided a review copy to me free of charge.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Have the best launch to your FB development,
This review is from: Facebook Graph API Development with Flash Beginner's Guide (Paperback)If you are serious about FB (facebook) development, then i assure you this book is going to benefit you, so go ahead and buy it now. You can read the review later ;)
So if any of you have tried FB development with flash, or with out flash for that matter, would definitely know that it is a PIA. The API keeps on changing every fortnight or so and even as i write this it had changed 2 days back, so you should hurry and get uptodate to give yourselves the edge thereby keeping ahead of all others. I am writing this review after half way through the book, realizing that I would end up spending a lot of time learning new things and testing new things related to the book. So i decided to spread the news right away as it would take time for me to finish it in a real sense.
Let me list down the points that i noticed
* Associated Codes are given in multiple formats, the Flash IDE, Flash Builder and Fashdevelop. This helps all kinds of users and we can easily see that even if your development environment is different, you can adapt the right one from any of these for your purposes.
* Starts simple, gives you the code base for 'Visualiser' app which you can go through and understand how graph data is parsed and also as an added benefit you get to learn implementing Minimal comps. :)
* FQL - get started with FB query Language, a very strong weapon in your FB development arsenal. If you have never used it, you will get to know what you were missing.
* AIR deployment with StageWebView, which is the latest update with new flashplayer feature.
* Start from scratch to deploy your app onto FB, either online or on desktop.
* You may end up amazed by how easily we can poll graph data directly using the browser. Neat hacks and tips which can help you really understand how graph, connections etc work.
* Searching for relevant data in the FB ocean.
* Easily decode the json data returned by the graph using the AS3CoreLib
So this makes us realize that it is not for AS3 newbies, but you need to be good enough with AS3 to get started right away. Most of the support code of the visualizer app is not explained as it is out of context of the book, so you would need AS3 power to understand all those. You will find real solid OOP usage and implementation with examples which can really help out the developer in you even if you are not much interested in FB development. One thing i had noticed is that Michael could have used external Debuggers like Arthropod to show log data instead of a custom dialog event, but then we could easily make that change.
So in the end, when it comes to FB you need to start early and proceed as fast as possible as social media is fast changing. FB is at the forefront of the revolution and we cant blame them for changing APIs so rapidly. This book surely helps you get started right away and get into the thick of things with the latest graph API and FB AS3 SDK. Even if you don't want to use the AS3 SDK (as updates for this is usually late when FB updates APIs) you can extend the native parsing information used in the earlier stages of the book to write your own classes for accessing FB data.
So rush to download the book and get those source files and start exploring the vast FB ocean. Who knows what you may end up creating, but dont thank me, thank Michael.
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Facebook Graph API Development with Flash Beginner's Guide by Michael Williams (Paperback - 22 Dec 2010)