Nitobi launches PhoneGap Facebook Connect plugin

Nitobi has released the first version of the PhoneGap Facebook Connect plugin, which lets developers easily add Facebook's single sign-on functionality to mobile apps.

Nitobi, the company behind the PhoneGap mobile app development framework, has announced the launch of the PhoneGap Facebook Connect plugin (available on GitHub). The new plugin is designed to make it easier for developers to add Facebook's single sign-on functionality to mobile apps (built using PhoneGap, of course) that retrieve and use Facebook data.

Nitobi also took the opportunity to underline that PhoneGap is downloaded more than 40,000 times a month. The company thus says it is expecting that this new plugin, which it worked with Facebook to build, will also be popular.

The plugin uses the same Application Programming Interface (API) as Facebook's JavaScript SDK. Furthermore, it works with the native Facebook application installed on many iOS and Android smartphones, instead of replicating the workflow users are accustomed to in desktop browsers. The end result is a more streamlined and clean log in experience.

Because users are typically already logged in to Facebook on their mobile devices, the plugin enables PhoneGap apps to skip the Facebook log in popup that asks for a username and password. It's also easier to implement: developers just have to wrap their web app in PhoneGap, this plugin, and add one line of code.

Facebook's single sign-on functionality lets users log in to a web page or mobile app using their Facebook login credentials. The plugin is needed because the Facebook Software Development Kit (SDK) uses the OAuth 2.0 standard, which doesn't always work well with PhoneGap apps built with HTML and JavaScript. The project started with the desire to create a better user experience, but PhoneGap says its community's enthusiasm for plugins was the driving force.

"We got working on a Facebook plugin because we're user experience advocates," Nitobi CTO Dave Johnson said in a statement. "The OAuth authentication workflow for a mobile app isn't ideal so we created the PhoneGap Facebook plugin as a way to streamline that process and improve the experience for the end user."

"The PhoneGap community is really behind plugins, which is why it was a major focus in the recent PhoneGap 1.0 release," Brian LeRoux, Senior Vice President of Software Development and Director of Developer Relations at Nitobi and PhoneGap Evangelist, said in a statement. "Continuing to improve and expand PhoneGap plugins is a big part of the PhoneGap agenda."