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Building Social Web Applications 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 063-6920518754
ISBN-10: 0596518757
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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Establishing Community at the Heart of Your Site

About the Author

Gavin Bell designs social web applications for the Nature Publishing Group. He is an interaction designer, community advocate and product manager. Since the early 90s, he has been writing and designing for the web. Large scale web applications covering identity, on-demand media, geolocation and social software have been the main focus of his work at NPG and previously at the BBC. He has worked in academia, advertising, publishing and developed multimedia software. He lives in London with his wife and two sons. Find out more on his personal site gavinbell.com and his blog take one onion.

Photo © James Duncan Davidson

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 434 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596518757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596518752
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,356,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Foti Massimo on December 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
If you are looking for and how-to guide, with code listings and practical examples you better pick another book. Gavin Bell covers the topic from an architect/designer point of view, he also tends keep in mind the business side of things, something I appreciated. This means the content will be valuable for a long time, since languages, tools and frameworks come and go, while the advice you can get from this book is platform agnostic. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a book with just dry theory, it's based on solid experience both from first-hand experience by the author and the way some major social applications have been build and evolved
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Gavin Bell draws on his extensive experience to offer a well structured guide to adding community elements to a website or application. His book will help any professional planning a social strategy, designing a set of social features, determining the types of relationships to foster among users, and even determining how best to manage change in an existing site or online structure.

Bell covers a wide gamut of issues that a site planner will need to consider, from developing the data schema for people, relationships, and objects; to how best to expose APIs to third-party developers; to the process of rolling out a new product or feature. Anyone developing a social website or app should keep this book handy throughout the process.

Bell and I share a publisher and our titles cover some similar issues. When I first picked up Bell's finished book I gritted my teeth with envy. As I quickly devoured the book, though, I was relieved (or, at least I convinced myself) that our books are complementary and are each useful in their own way.

If you're looking for one book to guide you through the entire process, from conception to launch and into the life of a social web application, then this is the book for you.
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This book is rich in important ideas and is definitely a must read for those interested in the social web. Unfortunately I suspect that it was either written in haste or (perhaps more likely) the author was still working out his ideas as he wrote it, because it is extremely repetitive. This constant reiteration does make the reading experience rather more hard work than it should be because the underlying material is strong and valuable. I am entirely confident that in the next addition he can easily take out 100 pages and the book will be the stronger for it. This is Gavin's first book and I don't think he was well served by his publisher. A competent editor could and should have pointed out the large areas of duplication. Nonetheless, and to repeat myself :), it is a must read.
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Format: Paperback
My background is marketing, not programming. I'm IT literate but struggle with anything above simple HTML. None-the-less, I found extraordinary value in this book. Yes, it's technical. But not in a way that leaves non-programmers behind. I found it full of insights that will help ANYONE involved in ANY aspect of building a social site. Specifically, it has enabled me to much more clearly define the 'objects' of my social site and keep my developers focussed on those objects.

In answer to two of the earlier reviewers' comments that the author is repetitive, I can only state that after 40 years of leadership experience, I subscribe wholeheartedly to the 'Tell them what you are going to tell them; Tell them; Tell them you told them' school of thought. Gavin Bell does not go to that extreme but does often reinforce/enhance/distill an earlier concept. I found that a strong positive in helping me digest the weath of knowledge being shared.

If you want to understand why some social sites thrive while others fail, this book is a 'must read'!
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Format: Paperback
Gavin Bell's experience in technology and social networking software applications is wonderfully presented and organized. The book is targeted to the system designer rather than the coder - offering practical advice with a healthy dose of theory to explain why some interactions work and others don't. It is so rich in content, the reader will wear out his or her highligher in no time. The writing is clear and well organized with examples at every step. The author includes good graphics, references to interesting websites, chapter summaries and other tools to make the subject approachable to the reader. Anyone contemplating starting or adding a social web application will benefit from this excellent book.
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This book takes you from idea, to planning, to implementation, and to delivery of a web application. What I enjoyed most was the journey along the way. The author does a great job of going into greater detail with specific subjects such as managing identities, APIs, and development (to name a few). By the end of the book you are able to extract the important parts because they were re-iterated throughout the different chapters. This wasn't repetition, it was teaching you the important parts to focus.

Another interesting point is seeing what was important two years ago, and seeing how important it is today. This book still has very strong relevance in building web applications in 2011 (almost 2012).

I could go into much greater detail (and will, eventually), but I wanted to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book from cover to cover.
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