HTML5 Mobile App Framework PhoneGap Adds Facebook Connect Plugin

Nitobi, creators of the HTML5-based mobile app framework PhoneGap, have today launched the PhoneGap Facebook Connect plugin. The addition of the plugin means that developers building apps using Web technologies like HTML and JavaScript can now simplify the log in process for their apps by allowing users to login with their Facebook credentials.

To enable third parties the ability to integrate the Facebook Connect technology, Facebook provides a JavaScript software development kit (SDK) to developers.

However, Nitobi says that using the Facebook SDK was a challenge because it requires the use of the OAuth 2.0 standard, an open standard for authorization. This sign on process doesn’t always translate gracefully for the PhoneGap developers’ apps, the company found. Typically, a login box pops up on the user’s screen because their Facebook username and password credentials aren’t likely stored on the device.

“We got working on a Facebook plugin because we’re user experience advocates,” Dave Johnson, CTO at Nitobi Inc. says. “The OAuth authentication workflow for a mobile app isn’t ideal so we created the PhoneGap Facebook Connect plugin as a way to streamline that process and improve the experience for the end user.”

The new plugin uses the same API (application programming interface) as Facebook’s own SDK, but instead of replicating the same workflow you would see on the Web using a desktop browser, it works with the native Facebook application installed on users’ own devices. The end result is a less cumbersome log in process for an app’s end users.

The plugin is now available for download from Gitub here.

Nitobi, which is now seeing over 40,000 PhoneGap downloads per month, says it expects this new plugin to be popular.