SelfConference, chance to learn and to speak


A big thank you to the organizers of SelfConference ’14 in Detroit, MI.  It was held at Cobo, in the recently revamped section, and it was quite nice!  The conference had some great sessions and I had the exciting opportunity of presenting at one of them.

On Friday, I enjoyed talks about owning your own career in the development industry, why you should actively try to piss people off, working with Sass, a bit about Ember and also how to Quantify myself.

On Saturday, it was a bit of a blur as I was concerned about speaking at 2PM, for the session entitled Blind Faith and Best Practices, a talk about front-end best practices and attempting to get developers to research the why behind them rather than blindly following what someone says is a best practice.  That said, I still learned about making the web secure by default, the emerging world of DevOps and a bit about Ionic.  I also sat in on the How to Build a Time Machine talk by Adam Kempa and Karen Ford, a case study of the WhatWasThere website build.

Overall, this weekend was quite enjoyable, and the credit for that goes to the organizers of the conference. Looking forward to future years and watching how the dev. community in Detroit continues to explode.

Getting the number of Facebook shares and/or likes of a URL


So…you want to display the number of times your url has been shared/liked on Facebook, but you don’t want to just use the Like Button with the count?  I don’t blame you, while I use the Like button when appropriate (and that IS the easiest way to get that number, it doesn’t help you at all when you want to do something a bit cool with the information, or display it in a unique format.

So, there are 2 ways currently to get an URL’s Facebook Shares.  You can make a query against the Facebook REST API and use the links.getStats method, or you can use the Graph API to make an FQL (Facebook Query Language) call.

The REST API is really easy to use, but unfortunately, it is deprecated, so Facebook could shut it off tomorrow if they wanted to.  Personally, I doubt it gets shut off, but don’t come crying back here if you use it and something stops working because they do.

To make a call using the REST API, using one of my more popular posts as an example, you can make a query to the following URL like so:

http://api.facebook.com/restserver.php?method=links.getStats&urls=http://www.local-pc-guy.com/web-dev/facebook-feed-dialog-vs-share-link-dialog

That will return a block of XML (yes, XML) that looks like this:

<links_getStats_response xmlns="http://api.facebook.com/1.0/" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="http://api.facebook.com/1.0/ http://api.facebook.com/1.0/facebook.xsd" list="true">

    <link_stat>
        <url>
            http://www.local-pc-guy.com/web-dev/facebook-feed-dialog-vs-share-link-dialog
        </url>

        <normalized_url>
            http://www.local-pc-guy.com/web-dev/facebook-feed-dialog-vs-share-link-dialog
        </normalized_url>

        <share_count>22</share_count>
        <like_count>51</like_count>
        <comment_count>0</comment_count>
        <total_count>73</total_count>
        <click_count>0</click_count>
        <comments_fbid>468455836580018</comments_fbid>
        <commentsbox_count>0</commentsbox_count>

    </link_stat>

</links_getStats_response>

Then you’d just need to parse that returned XML into a usable format and grab the values that you want.  Generally you are going to want the total_count element, but sometimes you may want to differentiate between Shares and Likes.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, the REST API is deprecated, so if that concerns you, you can use FQL to query Facebook using the Graph API.

You can query the link_stat table with something like the following query:

SELECT 
    url, 
    normalized_url, 
    share_count, 
    like_count, 
    comment_count, 
    total_count, 
    commentsbox_count, 
    comments_fbid, 
    click_count 
FROM 
    link_stat 
WHERE 
    url="http://www.local-pc-guy.com/web-dev/facebook-feed-dialog-vs-share-link-dialog"

You can make a GET request to the Graph API and the Graph API will give you back a JSON response listing the fields you requested.

https://graph.facebook.com/fql?q=[QUERY]
https://graph.facebook.com/fql?q=SELECT url, normalized_url, share_count, like_count, comment_count, total_count, commentsbox_count, comments_fbid, click_count FROM link_stat WHERE url="http://www.local-pc-guy.com/web-dev/facebook-feed-dialog-vs-share-link-dialog"

The returned JSON should look like this, and is very easy to parse for the data you want.

{
   "data": [
      {
         "url": "http://www.local-pc-guy.com/web-dev/facebook-feed-dialog-vs-share-link-dialog",
         "normalized_url": "http://www.local-pc-guy.com/web-dev/facebook-feed-dialog-vs-share-link-dialog",
         "share_count": 22,
         "like_count": 51,
         "comment_count": 0,
         "total_count": 73,
         "commentsbox_count": 0,
         "comments_fbid": 468455836580018,
         "click_count": 0
      }
   ]
}

 

My recommendation is to go ahead and get comfortable with, and use, the FQL query syntax and the Graph API.  That way you are protected against the REST API going away and you get JSON, which is slightly easier to work with than XML.

Enjoy querying against Facebook, FQL is quite powerful and there is quite a bit of information you can get with a bit of digging through the docs.

Error using SquishIt and an Ektron control together


Earlier at work I ran into a conflict between SquishIt (which is a great utility for .Net for concatenating and minifying your CSS and JavaScript files, more info) and an Ektron control (Ajax HTMLEditor) that was included on a .Net ASPX page .  SquishIt was set in the MasterPage, so just removing it for that page wasn’t really an option.

The error I was getting was:

The Controls collection cannot be modified because the control contains code blocks (i.e. <% ... %>).

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Leap Motion Lightning Talk


I gave a quick 5-10 minute lightning talk at the Ann Arbor .Net Group tonight about the Leap Motion.  It was a brief introduction to the device and it’s capabilities, as well as a couple of demos.

The slideshow has Leap Controls built into it, so you can perform a KeyTap gesture to go to the next slide, or a ScreenTap for the previous slide, as well as swiping in any direction there is a slide.

Google also recently announced they had integrated the Leap Motion controller into Google Earth, and so I gave a demo of Google Earth, although I had quite a bit of trouble controlling it in front of the audience.  It requires quite a bit of focus to use successfully.

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