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Facebook and Heroku: an even easier way to get started

September 15, 2011ByCat Lee

We continue to make it even easier to get started building apps on Facebook Platform. We know that one of the most difficult things to getting started is setting up a place to host your app. As a result, we are starting to partner with some of the top cloud service providers to make it simpler for you to have your first app up and running in a few clicks -- all from within the Dev App.

Today, we are happy to announce our partnership with Heroku as the first of these providers to be integrated into the Dev App. With Heroku, you can now start building from a sample app in your choice of languages, including PHP, Ruby, Node.js and Python at no cost.

Getting Started

Visit the Dev App and create a new app by clicking the Create App button on the upper-right corner. You are then prompted to enter a name for your app. Enter any app name (this can be easily modified later) and agree to the Facebook Terms.

After clicking Continue and completing the captcha, you will be taken to a page to edit basic settings for your app. Click on the Get Started button within the Cloud Services section, which now appears below the Basic Info section.

On the next screen, you can learn a bit more about Heroku:

Click Next to see the dialog below:

Choose your favorite programming language from the dropdown:

  • PHP
  • Ruby
  • Node.js
  • Python

Then, enter the email address you wish to use for your Heroku user account (we autofill with your primary Facebook email address) and click Create. If you have an existing Heroku account with your Facebook email address, the new app will be associated with your existing account.

If your app was created successfully, you will see the Success dialog.

Visiting your new app

Clicking the Go to app button opens a new window and takes you to your newly created app. The first thing you have to do when visiting your app is grant it the permissions seen in the auth dialog below:

Once you click Allow, you will see the sample app.

The app contains examples of the following features:

  • authentication
  • displaying friends, photos, likes/interests, and friends who also use this app using the Graph API
  • post to wall using the Feed Dialog
  • send to friends using the Send Dialog

Once you start editing the code, you can begin to customize your app to do more things. Visit the doc links on the app to learn more.

App URL settings

When you click back into your app settings in the Dev App, you will see that the Hosting URL is filled out as well as the Site URL. To confirm these changes, click the Save Changes button.

Saving these changes will result in giving you a permanent link to your hosted app:

By default, the app was configured as a Website. You can configure the same app to be available as a Canvas App or a Page Tab App by reusing the Hosting URL in these sections within the Dev App. You’ll also notice that the Site URL provided starts with https. Heroku automatically supports SSL which is useful for any Facebook app that needs to support HTTPS by October 1.

Editing your first sample app

Once you have completed the initial flow, Heroku will email instructions for how to manage your app to the email you provided. Your app is managed using the Heroku command-line tool and you deploy code using the Git revision control system. Instructions are also available on their site.

We’re excited to offer Heroku from within the Dev App and hope that many of you will use the sample apps to begin building great user experiences on Facebook Platform.

Special thanks to Chris Dentel, our intern this summer, for building this awesome feature!