November 2009 Platform News

As part of our ongoing effort to improve communication with our developer community, we offer you the latest monthly roundup of the announcements, new features, and updates to Facebook Platform that occurred during November, 2009.

This month we released a leaner and faster JavaScript SDK, provided you with a way to get your users to bookmark your applications, and added to our developer roadmap, among other highlights.

New Features

Updates

  • Keep an eye on our developer roadmap and see the direction Facebook Platform is heading.
  • We render images in stream attachments so that the maximum dimensions can be 90 pixels square. If you include more than one image in an attachment, or your story’s description is longer than 300 characters, the user can see the rest of the content by clicking a “See more” link.
  • We removed all reference to the video attachment type in stream stories. You should use the flash attachment type, since the flash type gives you more control over how your stories render.
  • You can now find fans of a Facebook Page when you call pages.isFan without a session key. This lets you determine whether a user is a fan of a Facebook Page without the user needing to authorize your application.
  • If you’re developing IFrame canvas page applications or use the fb:iframe tag, we now pass the base domain to the IFrame. We also pass fb_sig_cookie_sig to IFrame canvas pages; store this signature in your cookies, as it’s the signature used to sign the four fb_sig session variables: fb_sig_user, fb_sig_session_key, fb_sig_expires, and fb_sig_ss. Finally, we pass the session secret (in fb_sig_ss) to IFrames rendered with the fb:iframe tag.
  • We no longer add a period to the end of a user’s status in the status column of the user FQL table, making it consistent with the status FQL table and the behavior of the site.

Announcements

Articles/Videos

  • Learn how to make your software development practices more secure. This article details the security benefits of Facebook Platform’s core components, the OWASP top ten vulnerabilities, secure development resources, and administrative practices to enhance site security.

Keep an eye on this blog, the Platform Live Status, and the weekly Push Changes articles for announcements, changes, and other important bulletins. You can subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed and the Platform Live Status RSS feed, or subscribe to either or both via email.

As always, we appreciate your continued feedback in our Developer Forum — let us know how we can reach and communicate with you even better.

Pete, the technical writer on the Platform team, likes keeping you up to date.

Developer Roadmap: Keeping You Up to Date

We launched a Developer Roadmap this past October to keep you up to date on changes to Facebook Platform. As we roll these updates out, we wanted to call special attention to a few of the recent and upcoming changes that you should be aware of.

The Stream

Launched: Over the past month we made several changes to how stream stories are rendered. As of last Tuesday, we will now render the first image you pass (at a maximum of 90 pixels wide or tall), and display a “See more” link if there are more images or if the story is more than roughly 300 characters long. We’re also showing one action link up to 25 characters long, and won’t render formatting characters.

Coming up:

  • Stream publishing methods: As we announced on October 23rd, to make it simpler and easier to develop on Facebook, we will support only the stream publishing methods (like stream.publish), and will discontinue support of many of the existing APIs. These changes take effect on December 20 (three weeks away). Everything you need to know is detailed on the roadmap.
  • New policy: Also, beginning December 20, you no longer can display a Feed form to a user unless the user has explicitly expressed a desire to share that content. For example, if a user takes action within a game, you cannot display a Feed form unless the user checks a box or clicks a button that says, “Share this with my friend.” Learn more about the details of this policy.

Email

We’re excited to provide users with the ability to share their primary email addresses with you. Right now we’re testing a number of different user interfaces to ensure high user comprehension without adding unnecessary friction, and look forward to having more to announce soon. Keep an eye on the roadmap for the latest.

Site Layout, Dashboards, and Counters

We’re going to start testing navigation changes on the home page in the coming weeks. Along with that change, we’ll start testing the Application and Games Dashboards and the Counter. We’ll give you access to the APIs as soon as they’re available as well as another heads up before rolling these out fully.

We’ll share additional details on the remaining updates on the roadmap as they become available, including the profile, canvas page, and the Open Graph API.

In addition to the roadmap, we will also communicate with you via the Platform Live Status page immediately before making any change. You can subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed and the Platform Live Status RSS feed, or subscribe to either or both via email; we encourage you to follow both to make sure you don’t miss anything.

We hope you find this information useful. If you have feedback, please feel free to share it in the Developer Forum.

Kelly, a product marketer on the Platform team, likes to tell you all about it.

Postcards from November Developer Events

Developers hosted three Facebook Developer Garages worldwide in November.

In London, 150 people attended the Facebook Developer Garage focused on the details of the updated Platform technical specs and policies. They also discussed optimal user flow and how to improve the user experience in gaming.

Over in Berkeley, California, over 100 developers gathered to learn about the new Facebook Connect library, advanced FBJS techniques, and how to scale your business. After the talks, developers hacked and debugged their Facebook apps together.

In Bilbao, Spain, Platform developers hosted their first Developer Garage. They discussed Facebook Connect’s integration with the WordPress plugin and how to best implement and use Facebook social widgets. They also discussed the different ways to monetize on Facebook Platform.

If you’d like to host a Developer Garage in your region, please see our Developer Wiki to learn more about the program, or check out the Platform Page to find more Garages near you. We look forward to seeing you at a Facebook event soon!

Julia, who manages developer events worldwide, has sticky fingers from stamping all of these postcards.

Special thanks to our hosts Facebook Developer Garage London: Causes and SocSoft, and to our sponsor Intel

Le Web is Here!

We’re at the Le Web conference in Paris this week to discuss the social Web and Facebook Connect, which launched one year ago this month. Whether you’re in town for the event too, or can catch the festivities via live stream, we hope you can join us.

Here’s our schedule (all times are Central Europe Time — GMT +1):

Wednesday, December 9th

11:00 AM – 11:20 AM – “Connecting in the Social Web” – Ethan Beard, Director, Facebook Developer Network

12:20 PM – 1:00 PM – Platform Roundtable – Ethan Beard

We will be sharing the stage with these social Web luminaries:

  • Cristian Cussen, Director of Business Development, Ning
  • Brandon Duncan, Director of Platform Engineering, LinkedIn
  • John Ham, Co-founder & CEO, Ustream
  • David Jacobs, Vice President, SixApart, Ltd.
  • Mike Jones, COO, MySpace
  • Ryan Sarver, Director of Platform, Twitter

Moderated by: Michael Arrington, Editor, TechCrunch

You can follow the event on Le Web’s live stream:

Free Webcam Chat at Ustream

Thursday, December 10th

2:00 PM – 4:00 PM – Facebook Developer Garage Paris – Alex Himel, Facebook Platform Engineer, will demonstrate a technical walk-through of Facebook Connect. He’ll be joined by French developers who will share the latest in Facebook Connect for the Mobile Web, Facebook technical how-tos, and case studies of French sites integrated with Facebook Connect.

Julia, who manages developer events worldwide, hopes you’ll follow the live stream of the Developer Garage on the Facebook Platform Ustream channel.

Facebook Connect: One Year Later

One year ago we launched Facebook Connect to enable developers to bring Facebook identities and the social graph to their own technologies. With the help of all of you, Facebook Connect has made thousands of websites, applications, consoles, and devices more social, and even made everyday actions – like watching TV, reading the news and playing games – more valuable with the addition of friends.

In the past year, Facebook Connect has grown in many significant ways:

  • More than 80,000 websites and devices have implemented Facebook Connect
  • More than 60 million Facebook users are engaging with Facebook Connect on external services each month
  • Two-thirds of comScore’s U.S. Top 100 websites and half of comScore’s Global Top 100 websites have implemented Facebook Connect

From social widgets like the Comments Box, Share button and Live Stream Box to deeper integrations including log in, Facebook Connect is helping developers drive more traffic to their site, ease the registration process, and provide a more engaging experience for users. By adding social elements through Facebook Connect, websites in a variety of verticals are revolutionizing industries.

Here are some examples of services that implemented Facebook Connect in its first year:

  • Websites: Yahoo!, Huffington Post, YouTube, Bilde.de, MTV, MyVideo.de, Microsoft Live and MSN.com, CNN, Lufthansa, TVGuide.com, NBC.com, Lala, Orbitz, Netflix, Showtime, Yelp, iGoogle, Digg, and MasterCard
  • Mobile Applications: Many of the top iPhone apps, including Bejeweled 2, Tap Tap Revenge, USA Today, Scrabble, Rock Band, UrbanSpoon, Doodle Jump, Gowalla, Sportacular, and Movies
  • Game Consoles: Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo DSi, Sony PlayStation 3
  • Desktop Applications: iTunes, iPhoto, Seesmic, TweetDeck

As we enter a new year with a personalized and social Web, the possibilities for innovation with Facebook Connect are endless. Our friends will define and guide our experiences across the Web, with Facebook Connect as the underlying technology that powers real world social interactions online.

What will the next big Facebook Connect implementation be? We can’t wait to see what you do in 2010.


Ethan, who leads the Facebook Developer Network, wants to thank you for being a part of Facebook Connect’s first year.

Facebook Platform News 12/8/09

With this week’s code push we’ve released the Dashboard API and the family FQL table, updated some API calls so they work without session keys, and soon will start returning English-only strings for three fields in the user FQL table.

Breaking Change for non-English Applications Querying user FQL Table

In order to significantly improve the performance of certain FQL queries, in 60 days we will return only English strings for the relationship_status, gender, and affiliations.status fields in the user FQL table.

The performance gains far outweigh the value of translating the strings in the query because these fields contain static lists of constants. After 60 days, queries on these fields will return English strings only. If you specified a language other than English as your application’s native language or use the Translations application to indicate your application is available in another language, and you query one of those fields on the user FQL table, you’ll need to update your code so it can handle the English values of these fields.

Here are the values for each field:

  • relationship_status, which can be ‘Single’, ‘In a Relationship’, ‘In an Open Relationship’, ‘Married’, ‘Engaged’, ‘It’s Complicated’ and ‘Widowed’
  • gender, which can be ‘Male’ or ‘Female’
  • affiliations, which can be ‘Undergrad’, ‘Alumnus/Alumna’, ‘Faculty’, ‘Staff’, or ‘Grad Student’

For example, If your application is in Spanish and it has logic to check if a user is single, you should change your code within the next 60 days to look like this:

if ($result == "single" || 
    $result == "soltero" || 
    $result == "soltera")  {
 
    $status = single; 
}

Dashboard API

The Dashboard API is now available for testing, to prepare you for the upcoming launch of the Application and Games Dashboards. Use the Dashboard API to integrate your application into the Application Dashboard or Games Dashboards, which will help users discover and engage with your applications.

Note that there is no sandbox for you to test the API; however the calls are live and you can set dashboard information and retrieve it. Keep an eye on this blog and the dashboard roadmap for more detailed information, including when we’ll release the dashboards.

New family FQL Table

Get information about a user’s family relationships (relatives, their names, relationships, birthdays, and user IDs) from the new family FQL table. This table makes it much simpler and more straightforward to retrieve family data for a user instead of querying the user table.

While we’re keeping the family field in the user FQL table, the new table is more useful since you can query for specific relationships, which you can’t do on the user table.

Getting Group Information without a Session

You can query the group FQL table without a session key, which returns data about a group that is publicly available; that is, the query only returns a group that the logged-in user can see. If you don’t pass the logged-in user’s ID, the query only returns open groups.

Fixed events.invite without a Session Key

We fixed an issue with events.invite so you can now call the method without a session key.

Stay Informed

Remember to check the Developer Roadmap so you can have advanced notice of what we’re releasing for Facebook Platform. We also publish a weekly article that lists each week’s code check-ins that impact Facebook Platform.

We hope you start using these features and we welcome your feedback on the Developer Forum.

Pete, a writer on the Platform team, likes to start spreading the news.