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The Frustration of Being a Third Party Facebook Developer

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Back when Facebook’s much lauded platform API launched this past May, I wrote and released two apps. The first was a little screen saver for Mac OS X that grabs photos of your friends and creates a fun little Quartz Composer visualization. The second one was something I worked on with another guy I met in the facebook developers IRC channel.

It’s a little utility called Shortcut that allows you to very quickly jump to the profile, wall, or photo albums of any of your friends without an intermediate page load – kind of like an app launcher such as Quicksilver, except for your friends.

The second one lead to several webdev job offers I was totally unqualified for and a small but enthusiastic userbase.

So anyway, I woke up this morning and noticed that Facebook has added the functionality of Shortcut into their site-wide search bar, without so much as a courtesy e-mail. I suppose it was a fairly obvious idea, and the app itself used a feature provided by Facebook and most famously used in their photo tagging pages, so I can’t be that pissed… But I still feel a little swindled.

As an aside, I suspected Facebook might add this feature sooner, but figured they hadn’t because it would really slice into their pageviews. I guess this means it really is true that Facebook is more concerned with viewing time than page views, which is a great attitude for its users. Think about how many page loads it takes to do anything in MySpace.