By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-09-10 Print this article Print

: An Open Book for Developers"> Adam DAngelo, chief technology officer at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook, is charged with overseeing the development of new applications, maintaining existing ones and ensuring that the overall platform can continue to scale to meet the needs of an ever growing user base for the wildly popular social networking community. DAngelo spoke with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft about the Facebook Platform and importance of developers to the companys strategy. What did you guys take away from the initial developer event you had, f8?
That was the initial release of our development platform, so, basically, before that outside developers couldnt integrate their applications inside Facebook. So that was the first time they could build applications that integrate with Facebook.
Do you see the enterprise as a target for Facebook? Is targeting the enterprise something youre working on now? Not really. Its always something that well potentially look at in the future, but were really purely focused on the consumer right now. But do you see that there could be an intersection with what you guys do and the Enterprise 2.0 stuff a lot of people talk about? Well, we see this as just a platform and developers can build whatever they want on top of it. And so it could be tools for businesses or it could be applications for consumers. So if youre looking at something like Windows, whether you say enterprise or consumer it doesnt matter—because its just an operating system and there are some enterprise applications that you could run on Windows and there are some consumer applications that you run on Windows. So we dont see ourselves as excluding enterprise applications. Well, are you interested in partnering with enterprise players? Are you getting any feelers from those companies? The thing about our development platform is you dont need to partner with us to develop anything. So all these developers—there are thousands of developers and thousands of applications have been built—they dont have to make a deal with us before they can build their application; its open to anyone. So there are people whove built some applications that are going in the direction of becoming tools for doing work. And so were very happy to see that. But we dont need them to make deals with us before they can build on top of Facebook. Are you doing anything to facilitate offline capability with Facebook? Not at the moment. Is that a direction youre headed or something youd want to take a look at? I cant really comment on future development. But as of right now we dont have anything. But were always looking at other directions we could go. The vast majority of the time that people would want to use Facebook, they have an Internet connection, so its generally easier to just do everything over the Internet. Right, but youve got efforts like Google Gears in the works and I was wondering if you folks might be looking at some kind of offline capability as well—perhaps even working with Gears. Yeah, but Google Gears is still in beta and a very small number of users actually have Google Gears installed. And until we can assume that the majority of our users are going to have some specific technology, we cant really make something thats going to depend on it. So we would consider that in the future if there was a good way to do it. So if Google Gears came out of beta and everyone was using it then wed consider that. But for now theres not really a good way to do offline access. Do you have any outreach to developers? I mean, do you have a developer program? Yes. Its not like what you might see in a typical developer program. Developer programs usually involve some kind of deal that you make with the developers, but we dont make deals with developers. We have a developer relations group that were getting started. Thats what Im talking about. Im interested in what kinds of things they do and what youre trying to promote. Its basically just trying to get as many developers as possible. We want to make sure that developers understand the platform, that its easy for them to use and that they know about it in the first place. And then theres always the standard thing of keeping communication open with developers so we know what the problems are and we can fix them, and they know what were going to change so that they can react to that. In your role as CTO, what do you typically do? There are a lot of things that I do. A few of the big things include being pretty focused on making sure our engineering team develops well and can build things as quickly as possible. Thats one of the things we stress is to be able to develop new features and code as quickly as possible, and thats a big challenge as we grow as an organization. So you see some of these big organizations when they get to 1,000 engineers, it takes months to get anything done. And thats an interesting thing to see on Facebook Platform. We launched this platform and it was only the small companies that could react quickly and build something. And its taken a long time for larger companies to build something because its just this new way of thinking. And, depending on how you structure your engineering organization, it might be that before you can even consider building this new product you have to form a whole new team and get a new manager and shift around the organization. So were pretty focused on having an engineering organization that can develop things as quickly as possible so we dont have to make management changes in order to have a new project get started. When engineers come in they can learn what they need to learn as quickly as possible. Page 2: Facebook: An Open Book for Developers

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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