How to develop a Facebook application in four (simple) steps

4 min reading
23 November 2015
How to develop a Facebook application in four (simple) steps
How to develop a Facebook application in four (simple) steps


JuliusKielaitis /

Communication, forms of leisure and entertainment, the digital business, among other things. Technology transforms extremely rapidly and one of its favorite breeding grounds is in social networks. Of all these, Facebook is, undoubtedly, the great phenomenon as a communication platform. More than 1.4 billion users speak volumes about the wealth of possibilities of that social channel. Huge focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

Why Facebook and not other social networks like Twitter? For one simple reason: its turnover related to the number of users or video playbacks make it an attractive social network for advertising or business linked to data or video games. Almost 1 billion people log on to the social network every day, 17% more than a year ago, almost 30% of which are users between 24 and 35, mostly women. A young and mobile social platform equals money.

In terms of the applications designed ad hoc for the social network, Facebook offers different types of products. Here are some of the most important ones:

– Advertising of and for applications: Facebook offers an advertising service for an application to appear and be positioned in the Facebook news flow and users can download it.

– Analytics for applications: Facebook has its own analytics service that makes it possible to find out about the audience in an unrestricted way.

– Monetization services: Facebook offers help to application developers with special formats and all its knowledge on usability and user experience, being able to benefit economically from an app.

– Video games: game development for Facebook has become a $2-billion business. Tools such as Unity and Cocos2d are fully integrated with the social network.

– Social plugins: integration of the typical social buttons of the social network, making it possible to viralize and interact with the content.

– Facebook Messenger related services.

Steps to create an application on Facebook

1. Registration and configuration of an application.

It is essential to open a developer account in the social network to create an app on Facebook. The process can only be started from a developer account From this point, you have to:

– Choose the option ‘create new application’ in Facebook.

– Then  choose the platform.

– Decide the name of the new app, select the option Create New Facebook App ID and the category for that app. If you want to create a test version of an existing application, you evidently need to select the option designed for that case.

– Configuration of the application with the Facebook Quick Start Wizard, depending logically on the platform chosen.

– In Settings, you must enter the email contact.

– Once these steps have been completed, you can publish the app in the Status & Review field. This automatically generates a unique and intransferable ID, which is like the app’s ID on Facebook. In addition, the developer is provided with a password that is needed to access and change any detail of the newly-created product.  

2. Facebook has its own SDKs.

Facebook offers developers a broad package of Software Development Kits (SDKs) for programmers on different platforms: SDK for Android, SDK for iOS, SDK for Web applications and SDK for Unity, fundamentally. Kits are also available for different types of programming languages like Java, HTML5, Ruby, JavaScript, Objective-C, Node.js, C#, Django, .NET or C++. Access to tutorials.

An example of using the SDK for Android is included in this video: 

3. Using Facebook APIs to manage data.

The third step when you want to develop applications and specific functionality for Facebook is to understand that everything goes through its application development interfaces, the Facebook Graphical API and the Marketing API. Two very powerful tools for developers.

– Graphical API: if you are a developer and you have experience with it, it is essential to upgrade to the latest version. The API is based on low-level procedures. With it, any professional can query data, upload photos, post stories, and so on.

Any calls to the Facebook Graphical API is performed by a HTTP GET. If someone needs to apply or retrieve specific information from a user, they can make an HTTP GET request like this:

GET /v2.5/me HTTP/1.1

Those calls can also be made through the SDKs of PHP, JavaScript, Android, iOS or the Explorer of the Facebook Graphical API. Here are two practical examples of calls in PHP and JavaScript.

– PHP:

/* PHP SDK v5.0.0 */
/* make the API call */
$request = new FacebookRequest(
$response = $request->execute();
$graphObject = $response->getGraphObject();
/* handle the result */


– JavaScript:

* make the API call */
    function (response) {
      if (response && !response.error) {
        /* handle the result */

Each of these requests to the API must be signed with an access token, where different permissions can be established. This is what allows a developer to use the Facebook API to retrieve images of a specific user (with their user_id) or a specific Facebook page (page_id), provided the user access token necessary to do so is available.

Within those queries to the API, the ‘Fields’ tag is used to make searches with the API more efficient and quick. When it is used, the ID, the name and profile photo of a particular user is returned, for instance. In the API documentation of the social network a Facebook profile type is used as an example.


– Marketing API: with it you can access the Facebook advertising platform and implement your own solutions to a company’s actual tools for creating and managing advertising. That Facebook API allows features like audience administration (makes it possible, among other actions, to segment data by user type); ad management (create campaigns and ads); ad statistics (design custom panels); and what the network calls Business Manager (account management).

4. Facebook review of the app.

Once the application has been created, Facebook starts a review process where it checks that the new product meets the social network’s quality standards. This process is intended to check what kind of user data is required by each application to provide the best possible experience.

– Logon permissions are controlled with two essential criteria: utility (permissions must improve user experience) and visibility (access to data should always be backed by a use and direct functionality of the application).

– Facebook verifies that the developer only asks for the permissions that are strictly necessary for optimum performance of the app.

– The application runs on multiple devices.

More information on APIs here.

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