Analysis: Developers struggle amid fragile Facebook economy

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As evidenced by the games and other playful applications that currently dominate the Facebook landscape, the Facebook operating system remains nascent. But Morin and Cheever think the seeds have been planted for the platform to blossom into something more sophisticated with Facebook Connect. While Connect enables Facebook users to log into other websites with their Facebook accounts, that's really just the beginning of its potential. It also allows Facebook users to bring their profile information to other sites that their Facebook friends use. Showing signs of the platform's plans to mature, Facebook also partnered with Salesforce.com to allow business software developers to migrate their Web-based applications to the Facebook platform.

"Being able to be that operating system for the internet and adding social context is something that we're excited to be doing," Morin says.

"We want to make it very transparent as to what people are doing all around the Web and life in general," Cheever adds. "My dream is that I should be able to go to a travel site like Orbitz and when I go buy a plane ticket and see the seat diagram, I could go, "'Hey, there's Chris, he's on the same plane as me. Why don't I sit near him.'"

Facebook has taken steps to help developers prepare for past and upcoming changes to the technology, Morin says. Facebook set up a developer wiki to document changes. Cheever adds that they push new platform releases to developers a day early. The company helps facilitate Facebook developer garages, which are essentially local meet ups around the world where developers discuss best practices as well as the challenges and opportunities facing the community. Facebook has full-time partner managers who communicate with the bigger app firms like Slide and RockYou. Facebook also hired employees whose sole job it is to monitor developer forums online.

"We had to learn a lot about communicating and making sure developers always have access to the information they need to ensure that their businesses are sustainable for the long term," Morin says.

More Facebook coverage on CIO.com

-- Salesforce's Force.com Apps to Run on Facebook: New Social Networking Power Couple

-- Business Lessons From the Widget Masters

-- How to Improve Your Facebook Profile: Play it Smart With Friends and Potential Employers

Staff writer C.G. Lynch can be reached at clynch@cio.com.

This story, "Analysis: Developers struggle amid fragile Facebook economy" was originally published by CIO.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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