Book Review: The Developer's Guide to Social Programming

Recently the nice folks at Addison Wesley sent me a review copy of "The Developer's Guide to Social Programming" by Mark Hawker (you can find it here on amazon). This is right up my street as I'm doing so much with with APIs, social and otherwise, at the moment and the book covers things I'm using such as OAuth and google's services.

The first thing that strikes me is how quickly this book will date. The theory is sound and the examples of Twitter, Facebook and Google Friend Connect are all really good uses of the technology, however these APIs will all change and probably pretty quickly which might devalue the book in some eyes but as concepts, much of the content will be valid for a long time I think. I found the whole text quite approachable, there are large chunks of code in places which were hard going as I was reading it in a beginning-to-end sort of a way rather than dipping in for a particular project, but the examples are clear and nicely laid out. The code is mostly PHP or JavaScript which was ideal for me as I'm a PHP specialist. I also found very little of the book overcomplicated, which is saying something! Too much of the resources I read are mostly using buzz words inappropriately, but this book was not like that.

If you are looking to integrate against Facebook, Twitter's API or Google Friend Connect then this is a great book, walking you through examples of how all the various bits go together. It also covers many elements used in many other API contexts, such as OpenSocial, OAuth, and also general consuming of content over HTTP from PHP and JavaScript. It uses CodeIgniter as an example lightweight framework for building sample applications and this is nicely done.

All in all I think this is a good addition to the bookshelf for anyone adding social features to websites. The exact information will soon be outdated, but it's currently accurate enough to be useful. The prose is clear and easy to follow; it's a slim book but if this is the topic you want to learn about, then this is the book to get

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