It can feel awfully lonely when you post something on Facebook--a funny status update, a beautiful vacation photo--and get nothing back in the way of comments or "likes." Even Facebook itself occasionally experiences something like this, such as a recent feature that should have made developers very happy.
Earlier this month Facebook announced in a blog post that it was trying to ease the process whereby developers would integrate their app or mobile game to its popular social media platform. Described as a new "app registration flow" dubbed QuickStart, it would replace what sounds like a painfully manual process. Here's what Facebook engineer Dmitry Soshnikov had to say:
"In the original app-creation flow, you had to find and download our latest SDKs, create a Facebook App ID, enable the platform you were building for, and then copy and paste certain information between our docs and your development environment — all while trying to read our documentation," he wrote. "We added interactive guides to lead you through the process of integrating an app with Facebook. Now, we will only display the steps relevant to your app. Additionally, SDK downloads are included inline, along with code you can copy and paste into your app."
As with all such blog posts, Soshnikov ended by asking for feedback through a short poll within QuickStart itself. However, on the blog post itself, and on other sites that covered the news such as MarketingLand and The Next Web, I saw next to nothing. Little on Twitter, either, where you might expect at least a couple of 140-character kudos.
Perhaps it's too early for developers to weigh in on Facebook's attempt at welcoming their apps on its platform, but given its vast distribution capabilities, something like QuickStart could soon set the bar for what other services that want to attract apps and mobile games should do. If QuickStart is the right approach, it's something developers should not only praise Facebook for, but something they should hold up as an example to the app ecosystem as a whole.
Maybe QuickStart would have prompted more discussion if it were part of a larger launch of developer tools and SDKs from Facebook or Parse, its mobile backend-as-a-service division. What it shows, however, is that Facebook is trying to pay as much attention to the user experience of its developers as developers should to the user experience of their apps.
Think about it for a moment: How well does your app or mobile game work with other apps or tools on a user's smartphone? What do they need to do to import contacts, set up their profile or add payment data? There's probably an improvement like QuickStart that could be added to many apps. As Facebook is proving, doing so is just a good way of being sociable to the people who matter to you.--Shane