Thursday, 20 September 2012

Development Update

I've continued developing over the past week, just trying to get a solid base to build my application on.

Connecting to Facebook in a way to get data is proving to be a little tricky. I've discovered that I cannot get the information directly from a users profile page, like I wanted to, as it is a breach of Facebook's terms and conditions. They will allow you to use automated data retrieval if you obtain prior written consent, but that is a little unrealistic for this project.

I've also implemented a PropertiesRetrieval class to return settings from a .properties file. Considering extensibility and the probably need to store a Facebook application id and secret key, it would be inefficient and ridiculous to have the required settings hard coded into the application. The externally configurable settings can now be set in the .properties file and the program will retrieve them when required.

The difficulty lies in that I'd like my application to be purely client-side. A lot of the support for developers on Facebook seem to focus on server-side applications and servlets. So it is difficult to find relevant information. I have had a play with a servlet implementation but it's not suitable for my needs.

I've found a java class called Scribe with lots of classes and methods for retrieving data from social media sites. I'm in the process of testing their demo implementation, but it looks promising!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Quick Update

Over the past week I've been working on my prototype application. I have a POJO called Person which I will use to store the retrieved data for each individual. I also have skeleton classes for the SocialNetwork to be constructed and for the connection to Facebook.

I'm aiming to target just the Facebook users who have upgraded to timeline. The URL to access their friends lists (if public) is The URL to access the friends list for non-timeline users is much more complex. As Facebook will soon be moving all users to Timeline there isn't much to gain by supporting those profiles.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Weekly Catch-Up

Today I had another catch-up meeting with my supervisor.

The progress I've made over the last few weeks has been good and should help reduce the complexity of my prototype.

My aims for this coming week are to have something written which can retrieve the friends of a targeted profile on Facebook. Once this is is accomplished, I can proceed to writing the recursive search to drill down through a social network and provide the visualisation for the program.

My supervisor recommended looking at Beautifulsoup, a python library to help parse html content. As I am programming in Java this may not be suitable but it will definitely be a good point to start.