I have to say one of the coolest things about working with people is to see them succeed. When you put the right person in the right job, they flourish, and you get to enjoy all the benefits of their wonderful work. I recently found Rony Perez, a great part time programmer.
In my post on My Favorite MediaWiki Extensions, I mentioned that although I already had the Facebook Connect working on the site, there was still a lot of work to be done, and that I was looking for a programmer to help me finish the job. Well I found someone, and he has been amazing to work with.
Originally, all we had was the minimal functionality of just creating a new user account with a Facebook ID. That was nice and all – it made it really easy for people to create an account. My biggest problem with this was that I really had no way to contact people after they created the account. Sure, I could write on their message boards that came with the SocialProfile extension that I added, but that wasn’t really enough. Unless they went back to the site, and back into their profile, there was no way for them to see that they got a message.
With the user’s OK, Rony was able to get me email addresses for people when they sign up for a new account. It takes the information from their Facebook profile. There is a screen that asks users if they want to share that information from us, so we’re not prying where we don’t belong, but it seems if you’re going to the trouble to connect with Facebook, users don’t mind sharing that information too. This is huge.
This is what shows up in the Newsfeed
The next thing that Rony did to make Facebook Connect a really powerful feature it that we are now able to publish new and modified pages on The Pet Wiki into the user’s newsfeed.
This is totally using Facebook Connect the way that it was meant to be. Think about it. If you spend time working on a page, don’t you want to let your friends know about it? They can read what you wrote and let others know about it. It’s incredibly viral.
Have an old account, and what to start using Facebook Connect? No problem. Rony also added merging of regular accounts to Facebook accounts. Nothing gets lost. It’s very cool. I took the “Merge” feature out of the skin. I’ll be putting it back very soon.
The next thing to do will be to fill out the SocialProfile from information from the Facebook profile. That will be happening very soon.
All the work that has been done on the Facebook Connect extension will be shared back with the MediaWiki community. The original license is a GPLv2 license. People were nice enough to share it with us, it’s a really nice feeling to be able to give back.
Thank you Rony, for all the amazing work that you’ve done on this. I can’t wait to start the next project.