Kasabi for Facebook Apps

Posted on 01/12/2012 by

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Just before Christmas, Team Kasabi experimented with Kasabi’s app-driving potential by working on their own applications for a week. Tim posted earlier about his team’s mobile efforts in working on the FoundSound mobile app. I spoke with Leigh who—together with Julian and Benji—explored Facebook’s recently announced timeline.

The Timeline lets users create a personal history of how you have interacted with things that appear in Facebook. Their exploration lead to a Lego Facebook app, and a rapid-prototyping framework for launching Kasabi-driven apps in Facebook.

Leigh explains:

“We were particularly interested in the Open Graph Protocol as it allows you to expose structured metadata about things in the world. Or more specifically, things that Facebook users are likely to be interested in.

“Creating some web pages that surface data from Kasabi using the Open Graph Protocol is really easy. Its just a matter of embedding data into your web pages.”

They were looking for a way to expose interesting data from Kasabi to the social aspects of Facebook. Facebook is built on interactions between people, and their use of the Open Graph gives people the further ability to interact with objects online.

“Until recently, all you could do was “like” something. But with the timeline, Facebook are allowing developers to define new types of things to interact with (for example: a painting or Lego set), the metadata associated with those (which is published as OGP metadata), and ways that people can interact with those things.”

So, previously in Facebook, users could point at an object, such as a song or a new bicycle, and say that they like it. The “Likes” appear all over the place, letting someones’ readers affirm a blog post or approve a recipe; but these affirmations and approvals are pretty generic, and vaguely defined to the objects themselves.

Taking a dataset rather near to his heart, Leigh and his team of three put together a Lego app for Facebook which lets people say that they have “built” a particular Lego set, and store these feats of primary-coloured engineering in their timeline.

Leigh found building things in Facebook relatively straight-forward. Although there is no automated way to define new types of things and how to interact with them—which is a bit limiting because all the mapping is done by hand—their development tools are really good.

“Prototyping a quick app that allowed people to start to “interact” with things in Kasabi datasets was really easy. We took that a step further by trying to build a simple framework to automate as much of that as possible. Our goal was to make a simple tool that would let anyone, with minimum of coding skill/effort, create a Facebook Timeline app using data in Kasabi—which was really simple: we just query the dataset to embed more data.

“We’ve got pretty close to that and have used our framework to create some simple apps that add a social aspect to data we’re storing.

“We’re going to polish this some more and release it open source for people to play with.”

As soon as the framework is more polished, you’ll be able to save some of the steps in building a data-driven Facebook app from Kasabi. It will be interesting to see how developers find this process, and what kind of apps/timeline interactions we could build. I’d personally love to see one of these tying into historic places, letting me embed in a timeline historic places I’ve seen, and maybe allow for some impressions or notes.

The datasets used in this project are online and able to be served up via their APIs already (have a look at Bricklink), and you can explore the sets and the Open Graph Protocol.

We’ve only scratched the surface in building apps with Kasabi, but I’d love to learn more about working with Facebook and other app platforms. What are you building?

Posted in: Ideas