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An Eclipse-based Facebook Application (Part 1)

So, the first thing I do when I write an Eclipse-based application, or any application for that matter is set a quick baseline of what I want done. For my first milestone, I decided I simply wanted to be able to log into Facebook. I figured, this would be a good start… it would require me to use the Facebook API in some fashion. This would force me to create a plug-in for the Facebook API which I would reuse when I started to do things like update my status from Eclipse. So my first stop was to look at the Facebook Java APIs since that would make life easier for me.

I found a cool project hosted at Google Code that contained some Java APIs. The only problem was that it seemed you needed a million jars to use these APIs. As an Eclipse plug-in afficiandio, I knew how to handle this… I’ll create a new plug-in! I downloaded all the jars and then launched the ‘New Plug-in Project from Exisiting Jars’ wizard which allows me to quickly create a plug-in by pointing to those existing jars.

To give my newly created plug-in some polish, I’ve decided to do a couple things. First, I’ll only export the packages that my consumers will need to work with the Facebook API:

In the Eclipse and OSGi world, Java packages are the unit of modularity. My consumers shouldn’t care about the other packages and I don’t feel like supporting those packages downstream so I won’t expose them. Since I don’t expose them, my consumers won’t be able to use any classes from those non-exported packages. This provides a nice way to keep your API really “internal.” For my next magic trick, I will make sure to set the Bundle-RequiredExecutionEnvironment (BREE) for my plug-in to J2SE-1.5:

BREEs are a way of telling Eclipse and OSGi that your plug-in at a minimum, requires Java 5.0 to run. This is cool because the Eclipse runtime won’t activate your plug-in if it’s running on Java 1.4… only Java 5.0 and above. The runtime will also give a message out stating that the plug-in can’t activate because the mininum BREE hasn’t been yet… also cool!

So with my new Facebook API plug-in setup and polished to my liking, we can go and start exercising that API in interesting ways. The first way will be finding a way to log-in to Facebook and that will be discussed in Part 2.

  • Lessons Learned
    • Start simple and iterate as you make progress
    • Use the ‘New Plug-in Project From Existing Jars’ wizard to package your dependencies
    • Don’t forget to set BREEs, they can save your consumers some heartache!
    • Export packages from plug-ins that consumers are only interested in

If you like this type of material, let me know. If there’s a good response, that’s usually motivation for me to do things faster.