Category Archives: Facebook

Could Facebook have scaled using MSSQL instead of MySQL?

The issue of scaling has been discussed recently at work and particularly in light of some of the recent details that have come out from Facebook on their data centers.

The question I want to know is do you think Facebook have scaled having been built on MSSQL as compared to MySQL? Did access to the source play an important role? Should it still be called MySQL or has FB changed it sufficiently that it’s really no longer MySQL?


Leveraging the Facebook API on Google AppEngine with jQuery Mobile

In the past I’ve built starter kits for Facebook development in ASP.NET and building CruiseControl plugins. My latest interest has been experimenting with Google AppEngine as my day job is all python appserver stuff so it’s a pretty logical fit. I’m slowly putting together all of the pieces I’d like to have in website starter kit including support for jQuery Mobile and Facebook Graph API.

I have a simple proof-of-concept app working here. Btw, as this is a work-in-progress it YMMV and the app may or may not be in a working state so apologies in advance.

Technologies used:

Google AppEngine

Cheetah Templates

Facebook Graph API

jQuery Mobile

OAuth 2.0 reference for Facebook development

As I mentioned, I’m working on Facebook support which involves the transition to the new $g(OAuth 2) authentication. What I’m going to do here, for myself if no one else, is keep a list of links I’ve found related to the topic. Without further adieu:

Of course, feel free to leave a comment with anything useful you’ve found.

Improving the Facebook Python SDK GraphAPI.request method

While working on Facebook functionality using Python I ran into a few cases where the GraphAPI.request method caused Facebook to choke on parameters with a value of None. Thus here’s a simple override to allow for None parameters which subsequently get stripped out.

def request(self, path, args=None, post_args=None):
    ''' Improves handling for post_args where any arg with a None value gets removed to avoid FB API errors.
        Allows for methods that accept all possible Facebook parameters and only passes those that are specified.
    if post_args:
        d = {}
        for a in post_args:
            if post_args[a] != None:
                d.setdefault(a, post_args[a])
        post_args = d
    return GraphAPI.request(self, path, args, post_args)

I’ve created a descendant class I call GraphAPIEx where this above method appears.

ASP.NET Facebook Starter Kit updated to VS.NET 2010

Recently, I received an email via my blog asking for a VS.NET 2010 version of my Facebook Starter Kit. Since I no longer work on Windows it hasn’t been a high priority so I offered instructions on how to extract the project from the .vsi file and load the project manually. Much to my (pleasant) surprise I got a follow-up email with an updated starter kit for VS.NET 2010 updated to .NET v4.

If anyone decides they want to upgrade the FDT to the latest version I’d be happy to post an update for that as well. The starter kit is available on Facebook is nearing 5600 users! An interesting side note, I’m no longer able to edit the properties of this application on Facebook because it contains the word “facebook” in the URL which is no longer allowed.


Getting the Tornado Facebook demo working

Recently, I downloaded Tornado:

Tornado is an open source version of the scalable, non-blocking web server and tools that power FriendFeed.

Included is a facebook demo that displays your feed though it didn’t work “out-of-the-box” raising the error:

File "modules/post.html", line 26, in _execute
KeyError: 'message'

modules/post.html is a snippet of html used to render each feed item. The snippet looks like this:

<div class="post">
  <div class="picture">
    {% set author_url="" + escape(post["from"]["id"]) %}
    <a href="{{ author_url }}"><img src="//{{ escape(post["from"]["id"]) }}/picture?type=square"/></a>
  <div class="body">
    <a href="{{ author_url }}" class="actor">{{ escape(post["from"]["name"]) }}&lt;/a>
    {% if post["message"] %}
      <span class="message">{{ escape(post["message"]) }}</span>
    {% end %}
    <div class="meta">
      <a href="{{ escape(post["actions"][0]["link"]) }}" class="permalink">{{ locale.format_date(datetime.datetime.strptime(post["created_time"], "%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%S+0000")) }}</a>

The curly braces are python code snippets and the line reading if post[“message”] is causing the problem. In python referencing a non-existent dictionary key raises a KeyError exception thus changing the code to use:

{% if “message” in post %}

To debug this problem I simply removed the code referencing post[“message”] and replaced it with str(post) which simply dumped the JSON contents onto the page. From there I could see that not all entries had a message key thus the error.

One more note. Looking at the documentation Tornado uses a library call epoll which at first glance sounds familiar to I/O completion ports on Windows which is something I’m familiar with.

Useful Facebook FQL queries

This is a post for me to aggregate various FQL queries.

Fetch the Facebook like count for a given URL

SELECT like_count FROM link_stat
WHERE url=""

Facebook user’s connections

SELECT target_id,target_type,is_following
FROM connection WHERE source_id = facebook_userid

Facebook Share count on a page

SELECT share_count, like_count, comment_count, total_count
FROM link_stat
WHERE url=""

Fetch open graph id for a url:

SELECT id,type,site FROM object_url
WHERE url=""

View which groups a user belongs to

SELECT name,gid FROM group
WHERE gid IN (SELECT gid FROM group_member
WHERE uid = facebook_userid)

Fetch a “friend map”

Replace UID with logged in user id. Via this page.

SELECT uid1, uid2
FROM friend
WHERE uid1 IN (SELECT uid1 FROM friend WHERE uid2=UID)
AND uid2 IN (SELECT uid1 FROM friend WHERE uid2=UID)
AND uid1 < uid2

Names of the places you’ve checked in

SELECT name FROM page
WHERE page_id IN
(SELECT page_id FROM checkin WHERE author_uid = me())

Names of the Places your Friends have checked in

SELECT name FROM page
WHERE page_id IN (SELECT page_id FROM checkin WHERE author_uid IN
(SELECT uid2 FROM friend WHERE uid1 = me()))

You can play around with executing these here including your Facebook user id if you’re logged in.

Updating my Starter Kit to Facebook Developer ToolKit v3.0 Take 1

Over the break I took a look at updating my Facebook Developer Toolkit (FDT) Starter kit to the latest v3.0 release that was announced at PDC. My first thought was to download the sources via SVN but unfortunately, that failed so I resorted to using the SDK Source download which I’d rather not do as it leaves no easy way to keep up-to-date with recent checkins.

Anyway, I built the sources which “just worked”, surely a good sign.

Next, I worked to compile and run my Starter Kit application and here is what I found (at least so far):

  • Delete old referenced assemblies
  • Change using statements:
    • using facebook; –> using Facebook
    • using facebook.web; –> using Facebook.Web;
    • using facebook.Schema; –> using Facebook.Schema;
  • Master.API.uid; –> Master.Api.Users.GetLoggedInUser();
  • Master.API.friends.getUserObjects(); –> Master.Api.Friends.GetUserObjects();
  •; -> Master.Api.Photos.GetAlbums();
  • facebook.Schema.user –> Facebook.Schema.user
  • Master.API.users.getInfo(Master.API.uid); –> Master.Api.Users.GetInfo(Master.Api.Users.GetLoggedInUser());
  • facebook.fql q = new facebook.fql(Master.API);
    • Add using Facebook.Rest
    • facebook.fql q = new facebook.fql(Master.API); –> Fql q = new Fql(Facebook.Session.FacebookSession);
  • Convert Site.Master page Page_Load method to a constructor setting RequireLogin = true;
  • Regular Expression bug

Until I get some time to resolve the RegEx issue the rest will be on hold for a bit though things are looking pretty good and the above didn’t take long at all. I have noticed a few worrisome comments on the discussion forum.

ASP.NET Facebook Starter Kit for VS.NET 2008 updated to v0.8

I’ve updated my ASP.NET Facebook Starter Kit with the following improvements/changes:

  • Added support for dynamically resizable iframe which avoids a scrollbar though may have some side effects/caveats. Code is based on JavaScript sample from Facebook.
  • Added an example of XFBML which requires xd_receiver.htm (included) allowing for a Cross Domain Communication Channel
  • Added example of using FQL, refer to FQL.aspx
  • Updated Facebook Dev Toolkit assemblies
  • Added Facebook stylesheet from Bill Konrad

The download is here and full directions for installation and use are here. To see this application running on Facebook click here. As always, please direct questions on the Facebook API to the Developer’s Forum, or on the Facebook Developer’s Toolkit to the discussion list.

[Updated: Jan 15, 2010] This post is now outdated so please look for my updated versions. The latest is always available on my wiki.