Dapper is getting alot of buzz lately, for good reason. They are the first to create a simple and non-technical way to create Facebook applications, as they already do for other types of gadgets and widgets. The FaceBook AppMaker is still in beta.
Many people who know how dumb I am scratched their head in confusion when I created a Facebook application for Sphinn.com, well the secret is out. That app was created via Dapper. I am part of the private beta testing. I used to be just dumb. Now I am dumb and a Facebook application developer.
Jon Aizen, CTO of Dapper was kind enough to agree to an interview…
Me: First off I want to say that I am very impressed with your new Facebook app maker. Can you tell me about what your motivation to create this functionality was?
Jon: As with many of our endeavors at Dapper, one of our goals is to make it incredibly easy for content publishers to distribute their content to a wider audience. Dapper has unique technology that allows you to easily transform content on a website into other formats. As Facebook is a great outlet for content distribution, we figured we’d bring our technology to that platform as well. Developing an application for Facebook is relatively hard and requires programming knowledge – we wanted to make it accessible to everyone.
Me: While I see Dapper as a great tool for a general user, I see some drawbacks for companies or search marketers, mainly because the Facebook applications do not allow the creator the ability to link to their own website. The “brought to you by” defaults to Dapper. Do you plan to allow users to be able to change this default, or at least add their own link?
Jon: As it is now, site owners who create their applications using the Dapper Facebook AppMaker, can link to their site in several very important ways. One is from the about section – when creating a Facebook application, you can supply the “about” text and in there you can provide a link to your site. Additionally, the application itself links to your site if your content contains links. This means, when creating the Dapp for your site, if you choose to have links from your site included in the application, those links will go directly to your website.
Me: Of all the gadget creation websites out there, I see Dapper as the most simple to use. Having said that, there still is a learning curve, namely you have to know what a “Dapp” is. If someone wanted to learn from scratch how to make a Facebook gadget via Dapper, what resources do you have or recommend?
Jon: This is something we’ve been asked many times. The concept of a “Dapp” or an API is an abstract one and takes some getting used to, even if Dapper is easy to use. My first recommendation, and one that seems to help most users a lot, is to view the Dapper demo at http://www.dapper.net/dapperDemo/.
Additionally, the landing page of the Dapper Facebook AppMaker contains an overview of the process.
Me: If someone with no prior knowledge of gadgets wanted to start learning about gadgets, what reason should they choose to do so via Dapper?
Jon: Dapper allows people to create gadgets out of any website without programming. This is dramatically easier than the alternative. Even for programmers, creating gadgets can be non-trivial, as they have to write code to extract the content from the website. This is typically a tedious task, and the code typically breaks quickly as the website changes.
Dapper is a good place to learn about creating gadgets because the barrier is incredibly low – it’s free, it’s easy, and takes just a few minutes. Also, users can find many pre-made gadgets by searching the Dapper website.
Me: What excites you most about the wonderful world of gadgets, widgets, and apps?
Jon: What excites me is most is seeing how the world is changing from one in which people held their content caged up on their own website, into one where they are now realizing the benefit of letting users read it new forms and in new places. Users want content to be portable – not everyone wants to read a website on the site itself. Some prefer RSS, some prefer it on their mobile, some want it as a Google gadget, etc. Giving people the freedom to port content to the place that suits them best is new and groundbreaking, and it’s exciting to be part of the revolution.
Me: While the big news right now is you Facebook App maker, I am someone who blogs about Google gadgets. Tell me about Dapper and Google gadgets.
Jon: Dapper has a long history of making it easy to create Google Gadgets. Google Gadgets are yet another area where only programmers can convert a site into a Gadget. Dapper solves this by allowing anyone to create a Gadget for any site. Thousands of users have used Dapper to create Google Gadgets.
There will be some very interesting announcements in this area as well, so keep your eyes peeled.
Me: What would you like people to know about Dapper?
Dapper is constantly learning and evolving. What our users think is incredibly important to us. I want people to know that their input and feedback about any of our products and services is vital to us. We are producing what we think is very advanced technology, but are trying to make it accessible to non-technical people. We are excited to work with our users to provide them with products and services that make their lives easier.
I want to thank Jon for agreeing to this interview and I can say from my experience of Dapper that it is quite impressive. The beta is already vastly better than it was just a couple weeks ago. I was going to make two suggestions and when I went to Dapper to do so, they had literally already taken care of what I was going to suggest and more. They have created new functionality and had beefed up the help documentation. Very impressive stuff.
You are now welcome to join the beta, you can do so by emailing email@example.com