Facebook Mobile API


Miker pointed out this morning that he and I had a go at Facebook's new mobile support for their API. My results? It sucks ass. It just doesn't work. At least the web stuff, the SMS stuff I haven't tried yet... but getting any page up on my phone working would have bee nice, but even Hello World gave me issues. So after a few hours of banging my head on it, I gave up.

I hadn't done much with Facebook before now, so at first I was terribly confused - so Miker called my 770 from his N800 ("we don't need no stinkin' phone companies") and he gave me a general rundown of the stuff that was warping my brain, and along with some shared code on my server, we worked out how to get the basics up. After that, though, it went completely sideways.

The problem is that you're supposed to be able to wrap stuff on your Canvas pages with a fb:mobile tag, and Facebook will only display that on mobile pages. The only way this works is if those tags wrap the entire page. If it doesn't then basically Facebook doesn't recognize that the Canvas needs to be displayed on a mobile, and will always default to the web version. This isn't how the documentation makes it sound like its supposed to work.

Now, even if you DO wrap everything in the fb:mobile tags and access that app page directly (like apps.facebook.com/myneatoapp), and the page is always mobile - which wouldn't be that big of a deal I guess if you could figure out some way of redirecting for signups and stuff - the problem is that 1) the standard template links to things like Home, Settings, Profile, etc. don't work. They just show up as empty anchor tags and 2) Forms don't work at all, because you're going back between the m.facebook.com and the apps.facebook.com subdomain, so posting and redirecting doesn't work as expected and 3) The app doesn't actually show up on your home page as a menu link, so I'm not sure how you would even get to a mobile canvas page in the first place without entering in the url by hand.

The only thing that we got working, as Miker mentioned in his post, was using a form on the PC web to send a fb:mobile wrapped chunk of text to the profile page, which then showed up on the mobile version. So you could write "hello world" or something more interesting, but it would have to be done like that. That section of the profile page couldn't be dynamically pulled from your site (like it can with a Canvas), it has to be pushed there.

Not much of a mobile API if you ask me... they must have rushed the announcement and functionality, knowing that most bloggers and news orgs would just repeat the information without actually testing anything out.


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