My first facebook app

I have developed a facebook page for my work, and it’s going pretty well but lately we’ve started to want to do a little more with it, and this has meant I’ve created my first facebook app, get me! B-)

My first experience with any sort of programming was with the Oric Atmos (the computer in my banner) which was a computer so user friendly that if you typed ‘zap’ and hit return it made a zap sound. What’s not to like? My granddad used to laboriously type out games for me to play and life was good. Then I thought I quite liked this programming malarky and got myself a self help book about C, which put almost put me off for life! I just didn’t get the jump from

10 Print “Nick is Cool”

20 Goto 10


int main()
   printf(“Nick is cool\n”);
   return 0;

or whatever it is (I’ve just quickly googled it). So I gave up, with a brief lapse when I started programming the most bloated and inefficient pontoon programme ever devised on my TI-81 programmable calculator when I should have been studying for my maths ‘A’ level. I did get it to work though!

My last but one job involved some fiddling about with html code, which I guess started me getting interested again (finally it was back to simplicity, font color=”red”) it certainly made me less scared to view source…

So our facebook page is going well, and we are looking at ways that we can use it in our promotion and marketing activities. This will probably involve facebook adverts, which I’m sure I’ll be blogging about in the near future. Before doing this though it’s important to integrate our facebook page with our existing web page, and in particular our online enquiry form (which is a simple html form). I was excited to learn that making this a tab on our facebook page involved creating my very first app, and setting up a developer account in facebook.

I quickly found a very useful blog post which told me everything I needed to do within facebook. I won’t go through the steps involved, that side of things was straightforward and is well explained in the blog. What was more difficult was the durham CMS side of things (of course!). Durham has invented and developed it’s very own CMS, which i’d probably best not comment on.

I didn’t want to just port the whole enquiry form page into our page, as all the durham CSS menu gubbins would take up valuable space (the tab can only be 520 pixels across) so I used view source to cut and paste just the html code needed. I couldn’t easily host this through the CMS (I don’t know how, or if it’s possible to do this without all the CSS stuff), so I created a simple file and eventually found that I could host it on a publicly viewable folder on a shared drive (once I’d followed some instructions and used Putty to set the permissions to publicly viewable).

I had to edit some of the parameters to make the form fit, but finally I got the form to pop up as I wanted in the tab, you can have a look for yourself. This looked great (well OK it actually looks pretty rubbish at the mo, I’ll pretty it up later) but when I ran a test it didn’t work. A look at the code suggested that it was something to do with a command action=”./”. Typing this into google just doesn’t work (it doesn’t recognise ./ as a search term, although i think it is possible to override this) so i resorted to twitter and got some helpful advice (cheers @ostephens !) and changed this to the specific file path for the durham web page that hosted the form, and everything now works hunky dory (unless there’s any problems with the form, where it all reverts back to the durham help/error pages which looks rough!

I’m sure I’ll continue playing with this so it might look good by the time you have a nosy. I hope so. I thought I’d post up about the process though as I know there’s quite a few people playing around with facebook pages and I wanted to show what a numpty with an internet connection and some help (cheers ET as well!) could do. I’ve just integrated our page with a simple html form, but there’s clearly quite a lot more that could be done. The next step would be to have a snazzy welcome screen for new visitors, and this is my next little project although we will be getting in some outside help (mainly for the design side of things!).

The facebook page on its own is great, but I’m hoping that this is the start of integrating it more with our web page and getting more from it. Any thoughts and comments welcome as ever!


About digitalscholar

I am a sociologist with an interest in new technology. Previously I’ve worked on a number of projects at Lancaster University and the Open University looking at the use of new technologies and social media by researchers. I was also a social sciences teaching fellow at the foundation centre at Durham University teaching sociology and anthropology. I am now a senior lecturer at the University of West London's Institute for Teaching, Innovation and Learning where I oversee the foundation provision and support retention. I'm sure I'll still be interested in, and occasionally blog about, tech related things. I use this blog to post thoughts about using new technologies in my professional academic life and wider thoughts and links relating to technology more generally.
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One Response to My first facebook app

  1. Pingback: 6 months in, our facebook page, and integration, integration, integration? | Digitalscholarship Blog

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