Monday, March 5, 2012

The Adventures of Building a Facebook App: Day 1

O. M. G.

So, it is officially SPRING BREAK here in the great Mouth of Wilson, but that sensation hasn't quite kicked in because it just felt like a weekend.

I have a pretty robust to-do list for break (mostly laundry and cleaning, a little geocaching, and some movie watching), but I wanted to take on something new in celebration of Lent.  I wanted to build something or create something that others could use.

So, I decided to create a Facebook App all on my own without BuildChatter or any other site (BuildChatter, btw, never did end up working for me...and no one ever followed up, so scratch them off my holiday card list).

Now, I can create simple Fb apps (hello my name is Wally.  Go to this site and learn about what I do/sell/eat).  Usually, I program in Java.  I am also a fan of Python.  In the last year and half, I have learned to program in like 6 new languages (really, once you learn one, they all start to make sense).  But, for whatever dumb reason, I decided to do this Fb app in php.  Ugg.


Anywho...the process for actually creating the physical space for a Fb app is a cinch.  You just go to Facebook's Developer Site and get busy.  But, for some dumb reason (not the same one as before), I decided first to go with their cloud service hosting.  After an hour of trying to figure that out and wanting to light matches and burn my eyes out...I realized something...duh...I have my own server.  My server supports php.  Bah.

So, I went and set up the server to meet with Facebook's open source stuff (easy peasy), and now I am at the brink of writing the code.  But, it is like coding in French after years of coding in Latin.  If I were a wimp, I COULD switch over to Java and reset everything that way and write in a program I know much better....but, nah, where is the adventure in that???

The App

The App, at its initial stage, will be for students.  They will read something and then respond with YES, I am ready to take a quiz!  or No, I have some questions about the reading.  If they choose Yes, they go to a visual quiz using ThingLink or, if I want to be more academic, they will take a real quiz, self grading, in Google Forms with automatic grading and data distribution. If they say no, they open up a chat box to post questions (which will be posted for everyone to respond to and verify, but will also be sent to my email).

This app isn't really for my current students, as they aren't allowed to use Fb.  But, I can see using it with college students.  But, once it is complete, I am hoping to share it with other communities.  Imagine if doctors could have patients read up on stuff while they are in the waiting room?  Imagine if teachers could get professional development credits for taking and passing PD tests?  There are infinite possibilities.  And...since this my Lenten project...all of the source code will be open source and free and tweakable by one and all.

But, alas, it is nearly 3am, and my eyes are burning.  Not from matches...not yet.

Oh, and the picture here was sent to me by my good friend, Earl Kinsley.  Well, he WAS my good friend...until he sent me that match. ;p

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