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JT Smith
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Facebook::Graph::Cookbook::Recipe1 - Building Privileged Applications


version 1.1205


Let's build a privileged Facebook application from nothing.

Things To Think About

Though templating systems such as Template::Toolkit and web frameworks such as Dancer and content management systems such as WebGUI http://www.webgui.org/ are out of scope for this document, when you build your own application, you should definitely consider using them.

For simplicity sake, in this recipe we'll be storing important information directly in the code. This is a terrible practice. Instead use a config file system like Config::JSON to store your settings.


This recipe assumes that you know and have Plack installed and that you have a Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) account.

You'll also have to be able to point a domain name to a server that is accessible from the Internet. DNS and server configuration are way beyond the scope of this document.


Step 1: Set up the developer application on Facebook.

Go to http://apps.facebook.com/developer.

Click "Allow".

Step 2: Create your application.

Go to http://www.facebook.com/developers/createapp.php or click "Set Up New Application" from the developer application.

Fill in an application name. The only restriction is that it can't use a Facebook trademark or be similar to official Facebook application names.

Agree to the terms of service.

Click "Create Application".

Step 3: The Connect tab.

After creating your application, go to the "Connect" tab.

Fill in the "Connect URL" field. It should be something like http://www.yourapplication.com/facebook/. It is the base URL to where you'll be deploying your application. The trailing slash is required.

Click "save".

Step 4: Note your application settings.

You either want to make note of your "Application ID" and your "Application Secret" or bookmark this page so you can come back to it. You'll need these later.

Step 5: Create app.psgi.

Create a file called app.psgi. Start it off like this:

 use strict;
 use Plack::App::URLMap;
 use Plack::Request;
 use Facebook::Graph;
 use URI;

 my $urlmap = Plack::App::URLMap->new;

 # your code will go here


All the code we have you add should go in the # your code will go here block, in the order that we have you add it.

Step 6: Create your Facebook::Graph object.

Now we can finally start building Facebook::Graph into our app.

 my $fb = Facebook::Graph->new(
    postback    => 'http://www.yourapplication.com/facebook/postback',
    app_id      => 'Put Your Application ID Here',
    secret      => 'Put Your Application Secret Here',

Now you need the URL you entered in step 3, and the application ID and secret you got in step 4.

On the end of the url, add postback. This could be anything really, but it needs to be separate from the Connect URL.

Step 7: Create your application's connect page.

Now we need to create the authorization redirect. This is where we tell Facebook what permissions we want. There is a complete list of permissions documented at http://developers.facebook.com/docs/authentication/permissions.

If we only wanted basic permissions we can leave the extend_permissions call out. But for this app let's say we want access to the user's email address and we want to be able to interact with the user's account even when they aren't online.

 my $connect = sub {
    my $env = shift;
    my $request = Plack::Request->new( $env );
    my $response = $request->new_response;
        ->extend_permissions( qw(email offline_access) )
    return $response->finalize;

 $urlmap->map("/facebook" => $connect);

We map the subroutine we created to /facebook because we'll likely have other things we want to display at /. If we wanted to display something else at /facebook we could have mapped this function to /facebook/authorize. It really doesn't matter what URL we use here, all that matters is that when we want our users to authenticate against Facebook, this is the URL that we're going to send them to in our application.

Step 8: Create the Facebook access token postback page.

Our connect/authorization page will redirect the user to Facebook to authorize our app. Now we need to create the page that the user will be redirected back to from Facebook. This is the postback that we created in step 6.

 my $postback = sub {
    my $env = shift;
    my $request = Plack::Request->new( $env );

    # turn our authorization code into an access token

    # store our access token to a database, a cookie, or pass it through the URL
    my $uri = URI->new('http://www.yourapplication.com/search');
    $uri->query_form( access_token => $fb->access_token );

    my $response = $request->new_response;
    $response->redirect( $uri->as_string );
    return $response->finalize;

 $urlmap->map("/facebook/postback" => $postback);

It's really stupid of us to pass our access token along the URL especially since we requested offline_access. We're only doing it here to demonstrate the usage of it. If you're requesting offline access, you should keep the access token locked away in a secure database. If you want to pass it along the URL, or store it in a cookie, you should not request offline_access.

Step 9: Let's do something already!

So now that we finally have an access token we can start making privileged requests. That works like this:

 my $search = sub {
    my $env = shift;
    my $request = Plack::Request->new( $env );

    # display a search
    my $out = '<html>
    <input type="hidden" name="access_token" value="'. $request->param('access_token') .'">
    <input type="text" name="q" value="'. $request->param('q') .'">
    <input type="submit" value="Search">

    # display the results if a search is made
    if ($request->param('q')) {
        $fb->access_token( $request->param('access_token') );
        my $response = $fb->query
            ->search($request->param('q'), 'user')
        $out .= eval{$response->as_json};
        if ($@) {
            $out .= 'ERROR: '.$@->[1];

    # close everything up
    $out .= '

    my $response = $request->new_response;
    return $response->finalize;

 $urlmap->map("/search" => $search);

Step 10: Start the application and let's test this puppy out.

On your server (the one that www.yourapplication.com points to) run the following command (assuming you're in the folder with app.psgi).

 sudo plackup --port 80 app.psgi

Now we point our browser to:


Voila! You have created an authenticated Facebook app. If you would like to see this full program check out eg/recipe1.psgi inside this distribution of Facebook::Graph.


You should never design an application using all the poor stuff we've done here, like using a shared Facebook::Graph object, not using a Framework/CMS or at least Plack::Builder, not using a templating system, passing the offline access token through the URL, etc. We've made comments about these things as we did them to warn you. These choices were made here only because this is example code who's primary purpose is to show you how to use Facebook::Graph, and not best practices for web development.


For more recipes, check out the Facebook::Graph::Cookbook.


Facebook::Graph is Copyright 2010 - 2017 Plain Black Corporation (http://www.plainblack.com) and is licensed under the same terms as Perl itself.