Introducing “Facebook Desktop” – A Lightweight, Unobtrusive Notification Engine for Facebook Built on Adobe AIR

Disclaimer: Facebook Desktop is a personal project. It is not sponsored by or affiliated with either Adobe® or Facebook®.

Once upon a time, I was involved in a project here at Adobe called “Project San Dimas“. That project eventually grew into a full-fledged product called “eBay Desktop” which enjoyed some impressive success. I was lucky enough to be part of the protyping, designing, and launching of the very first version, and it was very exciting. More recently, I’ve thought about doing something similar. Introducing, “Facebook Desktop“!

So, what is Facebook Desktop?
Facebook Desktop is a notification engine that gives you updates about your Facebook friends in real-time! Whenever someone posts a story, comments on your photo, tags you in a status-update, whatever…Facebook Desktop will let you know. It gives unobtrusive messenger-style toast messages whenever you have a notification.

Why build Facebook Desktop?
I moved away from my home in Vancouver for work and so Facebook has been a great tool to help keep me in touch with everyone. I found, though, that the browser metaphor for the Facebook “stream” just wasn’t working for me. I didn’t like refreshing my home page constantly to see what people were up to. I also didn’t like keeping a browser open whenever I wanted to read some of my friends posts. So, I made a simple AIR app that hits the Facebook APIs, grabs the latest posts, and delivers them to me in an unobtrusive way. I ended up finding it so useful, I started adding more and more features, like the ability to pause/resume, replay missed notifications, update my status, etc. Eventually, I was encouraged by a friend to polish it up and release it for others to use, and so here we are!

Anyways, if you’re interested in trying it out, install it here:

http://www.facebookdesktop.com/

You can also keep up with the project and reach out to me on any of our community pages:

And definitely, let me know what you think! Your feedback helps me make Facebook Desktop better and better. Until next time, happy Facebook’ing ;)

 
Charles

46 Responses to Introducing “Facebook Desktop” – A Lightweight, Unobtrusive Notification Engine for Facebook Built on Adobe AIR

  1. chall3ng3r says:

    Good idea, and seems like a nice implementation.

    Keep it up!

    // chall3ng3r //

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  5. tony says:

    it just doesn’t work, facebook say “sorry something went wrong” on the login window

    • Charles Bihis says:

      It actually looks like Facebook is down! I’m sure that once it comes back up, login will work just fine. If not, let me know and I can check it out for you.

  6. Rob says:

    Do you have any plans to open source it?

    • Charles Bihis says:

      Yes, definitely! I might open-source the whole thing, or just components of it. I’m still not sure yet, but I’ll definitely mention anything on this blog.

  7. Sebastian says:

    It doesn’t seem to want to log in right now…

    “Sorry, something went wrong…
    We’re working on getting this fixed as soon as we can.”

    • Charles Bihis says:

      I think Facebook is having connectivity issues right now and it’s obviously affecting their APIs. When Facebook is back up, things should work as expected. Let me know if they still don’t and I can take a look!

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  11. Oscar says:

    I was looking for something like this for a long long time! Thanks!

  12. Great work buddy.. Sharing it on my blog…

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  20. tony says:

    Ok, now the login page is working, but the window is rezising on its height and it never stops. I’m on windows XP.

    I can perhaps make a video of this if you don’t have the same issue.

    • Charles Bihis says:

      Hi Tony. Actually, I think I might know what the problem is. I’ve made a bunch of minor fixes to the application since I’ve written this post and I think one of those fixes covers your problem. Could you uninstall the app and re-install from the website to make sure you get the latest build? Just to be safe, you could even download directly using this link…

      http://www.facebookdesktop.com/download/FacebookDesktop.air

      Let me know how it goes!

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  22. tony says:

    It works ;) great job !

    How did you managed to succeed with the air facebook api to login ? on my applications and even on the samples available. The persmission wrindow is juste white… Like a bug in Facebook. Whereas previously it was working just fine. Do you use the “”facebook as3 api” actually ?

    great job again !

    • Charles Bihis says:

      Thanks! Actually, I am using the facebook-actionscript-api. And yes, there is a bug that makes the permissions dialog render incorrectly in AIR (http://bugs.developers.facebook.net/show_bug.cgi?id=14462). I did a band-aid fix in the LoginWindow.as class where I set the vars.display=’wap’ instead of ‘popup’. That’ll change the styles and display the dialog…ugly, but it’ll display. A good workaround until that bug gets fixed. Anyways, hope that helps!

      • tony says:

        yes it helps ! thank you so much. Nobody were replying to this bug on the official facebook-actionscript-api group ! And my app (e-zen [dot] fr) is now frozen since 1 month. Thank you again ;)

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  24. Nice one looks pretty neat I’ll check out.
    Go Air!

  25. anant says:

    great app. inspiring work 4rm programmer’s point of view
    Go air………………………………………………..go

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  29. Gunnar says:

    Hi, nice one. It is real-time notifications or do you poll with a timer? I’m curious since the Facebook real-time api says it only supports servers not apps.

    • Charles Bihis says:

      Yes, we do poll. We wrote this app before Facebook offered their real-time APIs. And we still could use those APIs in the future (and we might). We would just need to have a server power our app in the back-end instead of Facebook’s Platform APIs.

  30. katherin says:

    las app para facebook oficiales donde las puedo consegir.

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  32. Jenni says:

    So one of my employees downloaded this and I uninstalled it and it keeps bringing up their notifications, great app…just not for this computer, how can I get rid of it?

    • Charles Bihis says:

      Hi Jenni. You can uninstall this app just like any other app. On Windows, you can use the “Uninstall a program” option in the Control Panel. On Mac, you can simply drag the application from the Applications folder straight into the trash can. Or, on any platform, you can double-click the installer and, if the app is still installed, will give you the option to uninstall. Hope that helps :)

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  34. Rahul Patwa says:

    Could you please share the source code if that’s not an issue ?
    I am working on desktop notifications in Adobe AIR and I think your code will help me a lot. Thanks. Rahul :)

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  37. rick says:

    clciking the link for the install gives this error for facebookdesktop.com –> Forbidden

    You don’t have permission to access / on this server.

    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.