Facebook constantly changes its interface as well as adds and deletes features. Therefore any manual has the likely potential of quickly becoming obsolete.
Due to these rapid developments, O’Reilly Media has already published a third edition of E. A. Vander Veer’s Facebook: The Missing Manual; I had previously reviewed the second edition.
For those who purchased the 2010 version, it may not be worth upgrading to the current edition, as the differences are slight. Those who desire a general, easy-to-read reference for using virtually every Facebook feature, will, however, find Facebook: the Missing Manual a useful, handy tool.
As with the second edition, Vander Veer guides readers step-by-step through creating a Facebook account, adjusting privacy settings, uploading photos, creating and/or joining networks, and more. Anyone needing a brief guide to the basics will find The Missing Manual helpful; those looking for thorough information on social media marketing will wish to consult a separate guide.
Numerous screenshots accompany the text, although full-color illustrations may have further enhanced Vander Veer’s instructions. A particularly interesting section is her discussion of the Notes application, which is often underused by many Facebook members. She describes ways to use Notes, especially how to utilize the feature as a blog.
Differences from the previous edition are slight; instead of grouping chapters into four major sections, Vander Veer lists each chapter separately under no major headings. I find this a puzzling change, as the major headings allowed the reader to quickly locate relevant information.
In addition, the second edition broke up the “Appendix” chapter into subsections: “Facebook Help,” “Getting Help from Other Members,” “Contacting Facebook,” and “Useful Facebook-Related Websites.”
Since the book is a reference tool, the layout should accommodate people wanting to find answers to specific issues rather than having to read the entire book. The new version lists just “Appendix” with no further information in the table of contents. Small updates are included, such as the deletion of Facebook’s now-defunct “gifts” application.
Like the previous edition, Facebook: The Missing Manual contains a link to the “Missing CD-ROM,” essentially a list of links to related sources such as blogging sites, free news readers, and FAQs on Facebook.com. Most helpful is the “Getting Help” section, which provides links to sites independent from Facebook such as Inside Facebook and All Facebook: The Unofficial Facebook Resource.
Despite its layout changes, Facebook: The Missing Manual remains a useful guide for the Facebook neophyte. It provides an overview of the social networking site’s major functions, and enables users to create an account, design their page, and make connections in little time. Advanced users may wish to keep the book nearby for quick reference, but otherwise they should consult other books for more detailed information on specific topics, such as marketing or designing applications.
For more information, visit O’Reilly’s Missing Manual website.