Facebook Bolsters Platform, Funds Development

Facebook extends its platform for JavaScript developers and opens a $10 million fund to attract development.

Facebook has released a scripting tool to help developers to use JavaScript in their Facebook applications.

The social networking company also has implemented a fund to help support developers who are building on Facebook Platform.

On Sept. 18, Facebook, based in Palo Alto, Calif., moved its JavaScript tool, FBJS, out of beta to version 1.0, said Marcel Laverdet, a developer on the Facebook team.

In a blog post, Laverdet said FBJS was built to empower developers with the scripting functionality they need to make Facebook Platform applications "more rich and interactive, while protecting Facebook users privacy at the same time."

Moreover, Laverdet said developers already used to using JavaScript will notice that most of the syntax and functionality from JavaScript is available in FBJS.

"Additionally, weve created hooks into our higher-level AJAX [Asynchronous JavaScript and XML] and dialog implementations which allow you to easily create dynamic experiences while maintaining the look and feel of Facebook," he said.

A description of FBJS on the Facebook site reads: "Most providers who allow developers to embed JavaScript within their domain force developers to use iframes to sandbox their code. Facebook has taken a different approach to this problem. JavaScript that you give us will be parsed, and any identifiers (function and variable names) will be prepended with your application ID."

Meanwhile, on Sept. 17, Facebook announced the fbFund, a $10 million fund focused on creating incentives for developers to build applications on the Facebook Platform. Initially, the fund will make available $10 million in capital, but that amount may grow over time, the company said.

Facebook officials said the fbFund is now accepting applications for $25,000 to $250,000 grants from anyone interested in building their business on Facebook Platform. In addition, the company said any individual or company, anywhere in the world, can apply as long as they have not raised any formal venture funding.


Click here to read more why Facebook is following an open door policy for developers.

Facebook opened up its platform to developers in May at a launch event in San Francisco. Since then there have been more than 3,000 applications built on the platform.

In an interview with eWEEK, Facebooks chief technology officer, Adam DAngelo, said: "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."

Meanwhile, the fbFund will be administered by Facebook and funded by Accel Partners and the Founders Fund. The investment committee will be comprised of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO, and Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook vice president of product marketing and operations. The committee also will include some Facebook board members, the company said. And the fbFund also has established an advisory council to help advise the committee on decisions, Facebook officials said.

In July, Bay Partners, a Menlo Park, Calif., venture capital firm announced AppFactory, a program for funding entrepreneurs writing applications for Facebook Platform. According to Salil Deshpande, a partner at Bay Partners, the firm is targeting tens of investments of $25,000 to $250,000 using a flexible, fast-track approval process.

"Facebook, in essence, has become the social operating system," Deshpande said. "Historically, the creation of an operating system, or a platform, has always led to a new economy which includes a marketplace of applications that are optimally designed for that platform and its user base."

Deshpande said Bay Partners is looking for the "killer apps" for the new social operating system.


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