Facebook Brings Mobile Developers Closer With Open-Sourcing

Facebook hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with mobile developers. Especially in its early years, the social giant had a reputation for stepping on their toes, and downplaying their place in its broader ecosystem.

Yet, having wised up in recent years, the company Mark Zuckerberg built has made efforts -- and significant investments -- to bring developers into the fold.

That was never clearer than in 2013, when Facebook dropped a reported $85 million on Parse, a rising star in the mobile-backend-as-a-service (or mBaaS) space. With Parse, Facebook was hoping for a way to integrate mobile apps (games in particular) more easily,  without directly competing with established app players.  

Now, Parse says it’s going to begin open-sourcing all of its software development kits (SDKs). Developers using iOS, Android and OS X can already go to GitHub to check out the newly released SDKs, while those using Windows Phone, JavaScript, and other operating systems will have to wait a bit longer.

The effort expands on Facebook’s Audience Network, which gives app developers and publishers the ability to target banners, interstitial and customizable native ad formats leveraging its vast trove of personal data.

Launched last year, Facebook’s mobile ad network included a two-year core API stability guarantee, which aimed to give developers advance notice before pushing changes, and covers issues like login sharing, requests and SDKs. At the time, Zuckerberg even joked that Facebook was amending its mantra from “Move Fast and Break Things,” to “Move Fast with Stable Infrastructure.”

Needless to say, open-sourcing its SDKs gives developers more transparency, and a better look into how they interact with Facebook’s back-end servers.

To its credit, Facebook has long been a strong advocate of open software. Today, most of its projects are built on GitHub, while it actively contributes to Hadoop and LLVM.

This further unlocking of its mobile operations should make developers happy.

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