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Let's talk Facebook Integration

ToddTodd Chief Product Officer Vanilla Staff
This discussion was created from comments split from: Reducing impact of /dashboard/notifications/inform.


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    @Todd, just wanted to tell you how incredibly amazed I am by what you've done here. It might take me a little while but I'm going to write a plugin for tight FB group / page integration. Not sure if it's possible yet, but I'm going to try to hook meta for a FB post ID (a la Graph API) to each forum post and then see if I can get 2-way synchronization going so that people on Facebook can get group invites as well as new comment notifications on both Vanilla and Facebook. Really excited about doing it - hopefully you can sell it to premium users and make some money - you deserve it after all the hard work you've put in here... I'm super impressed!

    Unfortunately, like everyone, I'm swamped right now - so don't hold your breath on me getting this plugin out right away :/

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    ToddTodd Chief Product Officer Vanilla Staff

    @brianfeister said:
    Todd, just wanted to tell you how incredibly amazed I am by what you've done here. It might take me a little while but I'm going to write a plugin for tight FB group / page integration.

    Thanks for the kind words. We are actually working on a bit more Facebook/Twitter integration right now although not as much as what you are talking about. Here are some features you might want to know about.

    1. Our current branch has all the necessary open graph meta in each page. This is something we want as core to the product. Way easier to make it core and I think that micro-formats are just the way to go with today's web.

    2. I'm working on making the social connections more visible on a user's profile if they so choose and will be making some convenience functions for graph api calls.

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    edited September 2012

    I haven't even dove into the actual codebase yet, though I'm a WP developer for a large company that uses WP heavily by day, so your architecture looks like a breeze by comparison. When you say the current branch "has all the necessary open graph meta" - what do you mean by that? I was digging around in FQL / Open Graph earlier and basically got it down to the GET data object I would want. The main thing is just figuring out where you guys would want me to store the code in the overall app filesystem. Sounds like your comment was talking about the meta for linking user accounts generated through FB OAuth to their respective FB pages. That's certainly helpful, but pulling a post in via the FB Real Time Updates API - https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/api/realtime/ or Open Graph API (if the needed objects are not yet available through Real Time Updates (which they might not be), is just a matter of pulling the data.

    I'm glad that you've weighed in because I'm currently trying to decide which route to take with the integration. It should probably be a plugin with different options, but so far, here are some ideas I'm just throwing out there:

    • Have a linked Group (in my case, seems most appropriate so that the FB Group and forum feel the same) or page, where Vanilla site owners drop their secret key and API token into the backend and then either with a cron script or through the FB Real Time Updates, pull that data in and turn it into a post.

    • Obviously we don't want to create posts from non-registered users so we'll do a check on all user's incoming from Facebook to make sure to ignore any posts from non-forum members who happen to use the Facebook group.

    • Once the user is validated, we go ahead and have a post automatically show up on the forum when they post on Facebook.

    • I initially I had my heart set on a "tight" sync where the conversations in both FB & Vanilla would track each other. This could still be possible, though I'm not 100% on this yet, and it should probably wait until a later version.

    • The POST from Vanilla to FB should be easier to do, I would imagine.

    So, in response to your #2, you're saying that I should hold off until you integrate the convenience methods for the graph API calls so that I can hook into them with the plugin I'll write?

    I'd like to hear your thoughts on all of this, I'm thinking through it quite a bit and I want to approach it in a way most cohesive to your architectural strategy. I think a seamless integration with FB is one of the biggest wins a forum can have right now, because people are abandoning all non-Facebook websites, but if they can visit my forum site and not worry about having to visit later, but rather their post appears on Facebook automagically, then it really solves the problem nicely and creates a path by which a forum / website can have a permanent "foot in the door" with Facebook for the sake of user engagement.

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    Also, just to be sure as not to scare you - I'm not a "WP developer" as in (read: beginner developer) - I have a strong understanding of OOP principles and (fortunately for me withe the JS FB Open Graph API) javascript development in particular. Mainly, I'm curious about what kind of guiding principles would be ideal with the business logic on this and then also, maybe just some general direction-pointing on where I should go within the app to start digging and tracing code threads backwards, etc. - I actually work on a plugin that has built it's on MVC architecture inside of a WP environment. Which (like it sounds) ends up being spaghetti-MVC, so really what you have with Vanilla looks super simple to me by comparison.

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    ToddTodd Chief Product Officer Vanilla Staff

    Lots to digest here. I'm pushing hard on some other stuff this weekend so gimme a couple days or so to mull this over.

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