Freebase – Guides – Introduction

Acre – Freebase’s Application Hosting Platform

Acre is an application hosting platform designed to minimize the effort required by the Freebase community to build web applications that make use of the data contained by Freebase and create mashups with web services provided by others.

Its features include:

  • zero install: all you need is a modern browser and a Freebase account and you can create, debug, deploy and manage your web applications that will be run directly by the Freebase server infrastructure.

  • Javascript based: every web developer has stumbled upon Javascript one way or another; with Acre, event if you’re not a Javascript pro, you can use your existing knowledge to build web applications that use Javascript both on the client and on the server.

  • rich API: from URL fetching to OAuth support, from convenient Freebase API wrappers to native JSON parsing and serialization, from HTML parsing to jQuery-style selectors, Acre provides its applications with a rich set of APIs to work with.

  • view-source ecosystem: we believe that the ability of viewing the source of other people’s HTML on the web was a big part of its success. We have designed Acre to replicate the same dynamics. Acre makes it easy to look at existing source code and allows you to clone existing app and use it as a starting point for your own.

  • advanced debugging: as Javascript developers, we are big fans of Firebug and we watched with awe how much having a great debugging tool helped in simplifying development. In Acre, we tried to replicate the same console functionality (and API) that Firebug uses to allow you to easily access the ‘debug channel’ of your hosted apps. Moreover, Acre supports the FirePHP protocol, so that you can use FirePHP to debug even complicated HTTP flows like in Ajax applications.

  • advanced editing environment: the Acre App Editor acts as your IDE for Acre development and provides you with advanced functionality like code-completion for scripts and templates, plus a special query editor that guides you thru the maze of Freebase schemas and IDs to help find the data your app needs.

  • code search: looking at other people’s source code is very useful… but finding it might become hard if there are thousands of apps to choose from. This is why Acre provides a ‘code search’ functionality, specifically tuned for Acre scripts, templates and queries that allows you to search the entire collection of Acre apps and look for examples that you can use or clone.

  • extensive documentation: viewing the source of existing apps is a great help, but sometimes it’s not enough to understand everything that’s going on. Right here on the left sidebar you have access to the Acre documentation; the tutorials show you step by step how to build different kinds of applications; the Cookbook contains ‘recipes’ (think of them as tricks or tips) that experience acre developers share; then a reference for the Acre APIs (with built-in hooks to the code search, so that you can see how the API is used in real life), for the template language that Acre uses and a handy Javascript reference that shows you the standard Javascript API.

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