Author: Mark D. Hawker
Publisher: Addison Wesley, 2010
Aimed at: Developers interested in Twitter, Facebook and Google Friend Connect
Pros: Useful as reference
Cons: Overlong listings, some poor explanations
Reviewed by: Mike James
if you are interested in creating something that works with Twitter, Facebook or Google Friend Connect is this a useful book?
What is social programming? The answer is mostly contained in the subtitle to this book "Building Social Context Using Facebook, Google Friend Connect, and the Twitter API".
Essentially this is a book about programming the Facebook, Google Friend connect and Twitter API. Of course there are other APIs to social websites but arguably Facebook and Twitter are the two big ones.
The book covers each of the services in turn following a pattern of an introductory chapter followed by something deeper. Part I is on Twitter and covers the basics, authentication, and extending Twitter.
Part III is on Google Friend Connect and here is where it got more interesting as far as I was concerned. I'd missed out on what Google Friend Connect was all about and this section alerted me to the fact that I might be missing a good idea. Unlike other social sites Google Friend Connect gives you the ability to add social networking to a site that isn't basically about social networking. You can more or less import the features of the Friend community that you want - get them to sign up to your site or newsletter and add widgets that provide a social experience. As a developer you can also create your own widgets and plugins. What I can't seem to find out is how successful the whole idea is - how many sites are using it and what effect does it have. Given it has been around since 2008 it should have a higher profile by now. The book provides an overview of Google Friend Connect and explains how to handle authentication and developing gadgets.
The final section is a "put it all together" collection. The first chapter uses Codeigniter to build a microblogging tool and the second is about integrating all three of the social sites covered by the book.
Should you buy the book? Only if you are interested in creating something that works with Twitter, Facebook or Google Friend Connect or preferably all three. If this is the case then this is certainly worth getting hold of simply because it will save you time by collecting the relevant ideas into one place.