FbStart update: 17 companies offering support, 500 developers in program

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Facebook’s FbStart program, aimed at helping startup app developers find success on the platform, is growing. The social network announced that there are now 17 companies who have joined Facebook in offering help and support to newer developers.

Braintree, Appmethod and Get Satisfaction are the newest of FbStart’s 17 partners, which offer up to $40,000 in services. So far, the program has accepted more than 500 developers in 63 countries.

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Facebook’s Parse to build team in London

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Parse announced Thursday that the company is expanding across the pond and building a team in London. Since being acquired by Facebook last year, Parse has grown by more than 250 percent. More than 140,000 new developers started building mobile apps on Parse over the past year, with half of them coming from Europe, Middle East and Africa. The new London Parse team will support these developers.

Parse CEO Ilya Sukhar announced the news in a blog post:

The Parse London team will be based out of the Facebook London office, which is moving to a beautiful new location in central London in early June. We’re hiring engineers to help build the next big Parse products and to support products we’re building in collaboration with the Facebook Platform team.

We’re also looking for partner managers and partner engineers who will work directly with the biggest app developers in Europe, helping them to build awesome cross-platform apps using Parse. The team is already working with companies like Deezer, TopShop and Mind Candy.

We prioritize our product road map based on the feedback we get from our customers, and having a team on the ground in London allows us to cater the future of Parse products to the needs of our global community.

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Facebook F8 conference to return April 30

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At South by Southwest in Austin, Parse CEO Ilya Sukhar announced that Facebook will hold another F8 conference — April 30 in San Francisco. This is the first F8 since 2011, where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched Timeline.

The conference will be held at the San Francisco Design Concourse.

Sukhar offered more details in a blog post:

This year, we’re going back to our roots with a developer-focused conference. We will open with a morning keynote, followed by four technical tracks. These tracks will cover everything you need to know about building on the Facebook and Parse platforms, including getting started guides, technical best practices, infrastructure strategies, engineering deep dives, and advertising tips for making your app or game highly successful. We’ll also have special sessions dedicated to exploring how developers can take advantage of open source technologies.

Facebook and Parse engineers and product team members will be available during the conference to provide one-on-one help and advice, and you’ll also have the opportunity to learn from each other throughout the day. We’ll close out the day with a celebration for attendees to unwind with drinks and entertainment.

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Where do Facebook developers come from?

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Facebook released a heat map of developers Tuesday at the Le Web conference, showing which countries have high concentrations of Facebook developers and which countries are emerging.

Among the countries with greater than 10,000 developers: the U.S., Canada, Brazil and France. Facebook released the above heat map, showing the concentration of Facebook developers around the globe.

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6 years since Facebook Platform launch, company looks to provide new app services

platformToday marks the six-year anniversary of the Facebook Platform, something that has been defining for Facebook as a company and already influenced a number of industries.

Now, Facebook is making its next big moves for the platform by introducing app services — new tools for developers that make it easier to build applications that span different devices and put users at the forefront. This is seen most clearly with the acquisition of Parse, a mobile backend as a service company, which will continue as a separate brand with a freemium services model for the time being. Facebook also recently hired the team behind Spaceport, a cross-platform development framework, and stealth software startup Osmeta, which was reportedly working on something related to enabling simpler development across devices.

“We’ve been thinking about how we can provide tools to developers to enable a more cross-platform world,” Facebook Director of Developer Products Doug Purdy said at a media “whiteboard” session Thursday. “We’re trying to create a platform that developers can build something that spans over devices and makes people the center. Regardless of the device that you or your friends are on, everyone can have a rich experience.”
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Facebook releases native share dialog for iOS developers, allows Open Graph sharing without login and permissions

developer-iosFacebook today announced the availability of a new native share dialog for iOS, which will give developers an easy way to incorporate Facebook sharing — including Open Graph actions — in their apps.

The mobile share dialog is a standard tool that enables users to post something back to Facebook. Similar to the Like button, the share dialog can be implemented with a small amount of code across any app and it works even if users haven’t logged into the app using Facebook. The dialog includes support for location tagging, friend tagging, custom privacy settings, deep linking and more.

Previously, mobile developers would have had to program their own sharing mechanism with these features or use the old “feed dialog” or iOS 6 Share Sheet, which are more limited in functionality and can require up to three extra steps for users.

share-dialog-ios

Unlike Share Sheet, the native share dialog supports Open Graph publishing, as seen in the “read a book” example to the right. This is important because until now, developers had to ask users to log into their app using Facebook and allow various publishing permissions, which some users did not like.

Now, because the share dialog opens up the main Facebook app to complete the action, users don’t need to log into a third-party app with Facebook in order to share back via the Open Graph. As long as users have the Facebook app and are logged into that, they can easily publish to Facebook from any iOS app that uses the share dialog. This could greatly increase the amount of structured sharing through Open Graph verbs and objects.

Facebook first announced the native share dialog, along with other new mobile platform features, in April. However, it was only available in limited beta for iOS until today’s wide release. It is still in development for Android. The company says the share dialog should be used by default in all mobile apps that want to enable users to share something to the social network, even if the apps don’t have deeper Facebook integration, such as login or Open Graph.

[Update: Cut Out + Keep's Tom Waddington pointed us to a mention in Facebook's Javascript SDK that suggests a similar share dialog with Open Graph support could be coming soon for the web.]

Facebook offers a detailed comparison of all of a developer’s options for sharing back to Facebook — including the new share dialog, iOS Share Sheet, web-based feed dialog and Graph API – here. Technical documentation on the native share dialog is available here.

Facebook App User IDs help developers target users by in-app actions

developer-iosFacebook App User IDs are a new feature available to iOS developers who can use them to target their users by actions they took within their app. This is already available in the Facebook SDK for iOS, but will come to the Android SDK soon.

App User IDs are a component of Custom Audiences. Previously, advertisers could create targeting groups by hashed email addresses, phone numbers or user IDs. Now, developers have a way to target ads to their app users who haven’t logged in with Facebook or registered with an email address or phone number.

For example, a shopping app can target people who made a purchase and then show them ads with other items they may be interested in. A game developer can target engaged users of one of their games with ads for another game that they make.
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Three things to keep an eye on in Facebook’s games ecosystem

gamesFacebook today shared a recap and several videos from its event at the Game Developers Conference last month. The key takeaways from the presentations were Facebook’s commitment to the desktop gaming platform, its emerging focus on core and mid-core games, and its support for cross-platform games.

These are the three main areas to look at over the course of the year to understand the company’s progress as a gaming platform — something many are beginning to doubt or write off completely.

Desktop

Facebook says desktop gaming is “healthy and growing,” despite the attention on mobile, tablets and other new platforms. The company pointed to research suggesting the desktop games business is expected to grow to $15 billion, not including China. Last year desktop games generated more than $2.8 billion, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the overall industry.

“We care about desktop because it’s big, and it’s growing and we can make it grow faster,” Director of Games Partnerships Sean Ryan said at the GDC event last month. “It’s a big business in total around the world and for Facebook.”

The social network says more than 250 million people play games on Facebook each month, which is a 15 percent increase over last year. Many think Facebook games are past their heyday, but Facebook says there are now more users playing games on the site than ever before.
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Facebook acquires Parse to offer mobile backend services for developers

facebook-parseFacebook today announced an agreement to acquire Parse, a cloud-based platform providing tools for mobile app developers.

Parse offers backend services, data storage, social integration tools and other features to make it easier for developers to build apps across different platforms that scale more efficiently.

Facebook is buying Parse outright, meaning this is more than the typical talent deals Facebook makes. Parse will continue to operate and offer its services. Currently, it has a free model, a $199 model and an enterprise level. The company says there are 60,000 apps integrated with Parse’s platform.

Facebook Director of Developer Products Doug Purdy wrote in a developer blog post today:

“We want to enable developers to rapidly build apps that span mobile platforms and devices. Parse makes this possible by allowing developers to work with native objects that provide backend services for data storage, notifications, user management, and more. This removes the need to manage servers and a complex infrastructure, so you can simply focus on building great user experiences.”

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Facebook announces new mobile platform features to give app developers better tools

mobile devFacebook today announced a number of changes meant to improve the experience and increase the possibilities for mobile developers building apps that integrate with the social network. This includes new Open Graph APIs, a standard mobile share dialog, faster login and a Technology Partners program to help developers find third-party solutions that suit their needs.

One of the most significant developments announced today is the Object API, which allows mobile developers to create Open Graph objects without having to host corresponding webpages. Previously, applications had to serve data into Open Graph through web endpoints, so native iOS and Android apps weren’t able to build the same types of experiences or gain the same opportunities for distribution and discovery as web-basedd apps, unless they have the resources to build a web backend. Now this won’t be necessary and mobile or web apps can use the Object API for easier object creation.

Facebook is also introducing an object privacy model to allow objects that have custom or non-public privacy settings. This is especially important for some of the user generated content that comes from mobile apps. Web-hosted objects, on the other hand, have always had to be public. To help developers manage all their objects now, Facebook created a new “object browser” interface — seen below — that aims to organize developers’ objects in a more visual and intuitive way.

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