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Facebook Drops Java Support - Loses Another $1B of Fantasy Valuation

05.12.2008
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This just in from the Facebook-PR-flacks-writing-pure-dross department:

"We appreciate all of the effort and time that you've (Java developers, that is) invested in working with us, and apologize to anyone that this change inconveniences. However, we hope you recognize that this is being done with our main goal in mind- improving the overall Facebook Platform experience for users and developers alike."

According to the developers blog, Facebook has decided to discontinue support for the official Java client library. This seems contrary to the claim that the "Facebook Platform has been evolving at a very rapid pace". Maybe it's just me, but real evolution for Facebook would be the development and maintenance of more official APIs to allow developers to use their language of choice to add on new applications.

Instead of relying on their in-house team of developers, community libraries will fill the gap for a Java API. Is this enough? If Facebook want third party APIs to be used to hook into the platform, then why bother writing any others? I haven't tried it myself, but have you been writing Java applications for Facebook - does this affect you?

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Comments

Rick Ross replied on Mon, 2008/05/12 - 8:30am

Honestly, I am just too old to be drawn to the (amazingly successful) Facebook juggernaut. I tried it, but I have contracted a severe case of "Facebook fatigue" and simply don't use it much now. After all, if I REALLY wanted to know all this arcane detail about what everyobody I ever met is doing, then I would call them and ask.

But my opinion doesn't matter, since I obviously don't get Twitter either! The last thing I am going to do is announce every move I make on a broadcast network. Gimme a break!

So, Facebook's PHP gurus took a potshot at Java. This is no real surprise, but I think it is a mistake.

Jim Bethancourt replied on Mon, 2008/05/12 - 9:33am

What is the likelihood that Microsoft's $240 Million investment in Facebook influenced this move?  I realize it's the only company that's publicly invested in Facebook -- I'm not trying to start a flame war, simply trying to look at all of the possible reasons for their move.

Cheers,

Jim 

James Sugrue replied on Mon, 2008/05/12 - 9:39am

Well, I've read that the CTO is due to leave Facebook....
according to sources close to the company, D’Angelo felt his responsibilities no longer fit well with his skills and interests.

Could be another factor..

Dave Glasser replied on Mon, 2008/05/12 - 10:19am in response to: Rick Ross

I'm with you Rick, probably to an even more extreme degree. I've never even tried any of these "social networking" sites, nor do I care to. There's just so many more things I'd rather do with my time. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, just that I don't get it.

Clinton Begin replied on Mon, 2008/05/12 - 10:36am

OMG this is blown out of proportion and the focus is on the wrong thing --which I'll blame Facebook for.   Their message here was TERRIBLE.  A better message would be:  we suck at writing Java code*, our client API has always sucked and has never been kept up to date.  So just use this, it's better, has always been better.  Enjoy:

http://code.google.com/p/facebook-java-api/ 

In failing to make a clear message here, they're not doing themselves any favors.  The power and brilliance of the Facebook Platform is in that it is truly independent of the language or platform that the apps are deployed on.  It's a fantastic implementation of a REST-like web service, with a powerful UI component markup language.  

I don't know about their CTO, but their PR person should be fired.  

Clinton 

* Not exaggerating here.  One of the last versions of the "official" Facebook Java API releasss used a private inner class in a public method signature. Umm... ;-)

Mike P(Okidoky) replied on Mon, 2008/05/12 - 10:39am

I didn't know facebook had any Java.  I thought it was just the usual php spaghetti mess.
Java would have offered great security second to none. Performance would have been much better than those immensely lethargic page loads right now.

I find facebook just a hotchpotch of gobbledegook full off phishy applications. It's cute at first to know your former friends still exist, but it becomes tiresome soon after. Keeping my funwall clean from crappy videos is tedious. Molasses city on every page load. It's beyond me how 1,000,000 people in one day are stupid enough to buy those $1 gifts, blind enough to see there is a free gift appilcation you can add.

I can't understand for the life of me how none of those social networking companies weren't able to put out anything decent looking.  Facebook works and looks like utter crap - and they're the best...?  weird.

As for Microsoft, they have been very busy creating new dependencies.  I'm sure that we'll see Microsoft activex controls for a number of things soon.  Microsoft also successfully bribed the mls system look like, which soon will not be very pleasant to use on Mac or Linux (see mls.ca - Canada experiment before US?).  Never mind pissing off all their clients using anything other than windows...  No, what's important how Microsoft was so friendly and helpful helping their development team with their development efforts.

 

Jim Bethancourt replied on Mon, 2008/05/12 - 10:54am

I would genuinely like to see Facebook adopt Google's OpenSocial platform.  It would help Facebook by taking away some of their maintenance burden while also opening themselves up to a substantial developer base without having to maintain the API themselves.  I'm not a Facebook or Google OpenSocial developer, but I do know that maintaining APIs is not easy -- so why not take advantage of a free ride when it's available?

What are your thoughts? 

Andrew McVeigh replied on Mon, 2008/05/12 - 1:12pm in response to: Rick Ross

 Honestly, I am just too old to be drawn to the (amazingly successful) Facebook juggernaut. I tried it, but I have contracted a severe case of "Facebook fatigue" and simply don't use it much now. After all, if I REALLY wanted to know all this arcane detail about what everyobody I ever met is doing, then I would call them and ask.

 

well, the order of age goes: myspace, facebook and linkedin.  if you are sick of the 1st two, you've only got one chance left grandpa ;-)

 (to be honest, I never understood any of these social platforms until one of the young guys in my dev team showed me his facebook profile.  it's a place for meeting women ;-)

Andrew

Daniel Kaplan replied on Mon, 2008/05/12 - 1:47pm

Actually, the 3rd party library for the java facebook api has been better than the official one for a while now.  So, at least right now, it HAS BEEN able to keep up.  If you looked at the official API, you can tell that whoever developed it didn't really know java.  They did things like make private inner classes that were parameters of public methods.  That means that you couldn't call those methods because you couldn't create the inner classes.

Mark Stephens replied on Mon, 2008/05/12 - 7:49pm in response to: Rick Ross

I went out for dinner with a couple of developers (all 3 of us did talks at Javaone and one of them develops a really cool open source application).

There was an interesting point in the meal where I decided to 'come out' and to confess that I did not really get Facebook and Twitter and would rather curl up with a good book after a day's coding, and found they agreed with me. Maybe we're all getting old... 

Carl Antaki replied on Mon, 2008/05/12 - 10:35pm

I've used their Java API to write a photo upload tool named Bloom http://antaki.ca/bloom/. It's really unprofessional what they're doing. No respect whatsoever to their developers. It seems that few people are using their Java API but that's not a reason to drop it.

Mike P(Okidoky) replied on Tue, 2008/05/13 - 8:14am in response to: Carl Antaki

Microsoft's fault.  It's not a joke.

Chris Keene replied on Tue, 2008/05/13 - 12:20pm

Why are we shocked, SHOCKED after all these years that all that write once, run anywhere malarky really was just vendor hype?

The web client future belongs to Javascript. There is no shame in having the Java community embrace an Ajax front end. The Ajax world is evolving much too fast for anything in Java land to keep up, especially Java's lame JavaFX me-too imitation of Flash. The one exception is GWT, which takes an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach to Ajax.

Andrew McVeigh replied on Tue, 2008/05/13 - 1:25pm in response to: Chris Keene

Why are we shocked, SHOCKED after all these years that all that write once, run anywhere malarky really was just vendor hype?

 

How did you turn a complaint about a company dropping a Java API into a definitive statement that WORA never worked?

Even though WORA may not be perfect, I've saved so much time over the years being able to quickly move (even large enterprise) software between platforms. E.g. my current hobby project (80kloc, very complex graphics, for my phd rather than work) moves seamlessly between the mac, windows and linux -- even the EMF diagram export works between Office (or OpenOffice) on each platform without a hitch. My best WORA result was a large enterprise system that we moved between Windows and Solaris in under 2 days with full testing. It saved the company a *fortune*.

In fact, I'd go so far to say that I've not seen any significant porting problems (outside of AWT) between mac, windows, solaris, linux on any software as long as the JDK versions are aligned. That's got to be worth something.

Andrew

Mike P(Okidoky) replied on Tue, 2008/05/13 - 1:46pm

WORA not working is an utterly bogus statement.  WORA is very very real and very very effective.  Probably THE most effective portable platform ever made.  By a landslide.  Trying to reduce that fact is just a bunch of anti propaganda.  p e r i o d.

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