A Summary Of Today's Big Facebook Platform Changes

Today Facebook is making a number of announcements about changes to the platform at Facebook. We’ll be covering all of the changes as reported via today’s live stream. If you’re wondering why we aren’t covering the event from Facebook HQ, it’s because we’re based out of D.C.! If you’d like to sponsor AllFacebook with a San Francisco apartment however, we can give you a big ad!

[3:35 PT] Facebook says that they’ll be starting in five minutes.

[3:37 PT] Looks like Dave Morin, Mark Zuckerberg, Cheryl Sandberg and the other executives are in attendance. Assuming they’ll be present to answer questions as well.

[3:38 PT] Presentation is starting. Mark Zuckerberg is starting things off now.

[3:39 PT] Mark Zuckerberg is thanking people for coming out to the first platform roadmap developer garage. He’s now introducing some of the other team members. He has also mentioned how Facebook will become more dependent on their public APIs by eating their own dog food. Mark’s continuing to go over other people on the team and how building a roadmap is a huge step forward from before.

[3:44 PT] Ethan is now talking about the upcoming changes. There are now over 1 million developers on the platform and over 350,000 applications and “tens of thousands” of Facebook Connect websites. Ethan also says that “the death of the platform is greatly exaggerated,” ultimately referencing our past post. Today they are focused on reducing anxiety.

[3:46 PT] Today by providing a roadmap it will generate more predictability for developers so they don’t need to make changes on the fly. He’s highlighting how developer roadmaps are moving further out into the future.

[3:47 PT] 3 Things as part of today’s roadmap: communications channels, discovery and engagement, and new products. This is a six month roadmap which include mockups of how things will be adjusted in the coming weeks and months. This is not a product launch announcement, just products we’ll be launching in the future.

[3:49 PT] For Communications channels, he’s discussing what’s changing. Right now there are a lot of communication channels for users and this is very confusing and we’d like to address it. From the perspective of developers, it’s requests, notifications, proxied email, inbox, and stream. New developers find the 5 channels more challenging.

[3:50 PT] Ethan is now highlighting the issue of too many notifications and the channels are not effective. We believe the stream is best for “one-to-many” broadcasts. The other type of messaging is “user-to-user” communication which takes place through requests, invites, and other channels. They’d like to reduce that down to the inbox. Messages can still have attachments as they could before.

[3:53 PT] Ethan is addressing those messages that use the multi-friend selector. These are also user-to-user messages that will go in the inbox, and we’re currently determining where in the inbox those will go. We’re also working on ways to sort the multi-friend-selector so that they are more relevant rather than just sorting it in alphabetical order.

I was just sent an update and the developer roadmap is available in the wiki here.

[3:55 PT] Facebook is going to make user email addresses available to developers. This is a HUGE update from Facebook.

[3:57 PT] Next up is discovery and engagement. There is going to be new navigation which shows up at the top left of the homepage including links to applications with counters which highlight how many actions or activities they need to take within that application. There will also be an FBML bookmark icon which lets users add them to the dashboard right away.

[4:00 PT] The games dashboard is a space for all of a user’s games activity on Facebook. There will also be an applications dashboard. One thing users don’t understand is that the canvas page belongs to you (assuming he means the developer). We’d like to downplay the fact that this is a Facebook Page and we’ll be removing the majority of links from the header on these pages.

[4:02 PT] New products and programs. First off we’re launching a new developer website. We want to foster better collaboration and better community features. Everything that you see here will be published on the public facing developer roadmap (something I linked to moments ago). Finally, we’ll be launching on the new developer website which is a “Platform live status”. It will let developers know if there are issues on our side or the developer’s side.

[4:04 PT] Platform policies. They’ve grown incrementally to address issues that have sprouted up overtime. To make these policies more clear, we’ve tried to create a set of principles which are easier to understand. The 14 pages of policy from before have been reduced down to 3 pages. In the back of these policies will be screenshots of apps to help you understand what developers can and cannot do.

[4:07 PT] Platform enforcement. Much of this surrounds our verified apps program. We want all applications to be of quality. We are expanding our enforcement and holding all applications to the same level. We’ll be ending our verified apps program.

[4:09 PT] Analytics. The insights tool that we released has not kept up as time has gone on. We will be making the data through an insights tool and through an API so that you can use it within your own dashboards.

[4:09 PT] We have an entirely new API called the “Open Graph API”. Any page on the web can have the same features as a fan page inside of Facebook.com. I’ve discussed this extensively in the past and suggested that this would most likely be released soon. All developers can help build out the core social graph through using the “Open Graph API”. From the wiki:

The Open Graph API will allow any page on the Web to have all the features of a Facebook Page. Once implemented, developers can include a number of Facebook Widgets, like the Fan Box, or leverage any API, which enable the transformation of any Web page so it functions similar to a Facebook Page.

For example, AwesomeTees might decide that strategically they would like to locate their brand identity at www.awesometees.com. AwesomeTees will install the Fan Box widget, which will allow any Facebook user to “Become a Fan” of AwesomeTees, thereby establishing an official connection to AwesomeTees. The user will then have AwesomeTees listed in their list of connections on their profile as Pages are represented today. Additionally, any content that AwesomeTees publishes on AwesomeTees.com will show up in the stream on Facebook like it normally would. And, any time the user searches on Facebook, AwesomeTees will show up in the typeaheads and prominently in search results.

[4:12 PT] Now receiving questions. He’s being asked about the Open Graph API currently. “We believe the graph contains more than just people which includes objects and things. We don’t believe that all needs to take place within Facebook proper. For example, Coca-Cola could say that the experience shouldn’t be on Facebook but on their own website. Causes could say that each cause is another object you connect to.”

[4:16 PT] Ethan has been asked about Facebook credits. We’ve been running some tests with developers to see if it makes sense for them to integrate. That’s as far as we’ve gotten. Asked about email addresses, Ethan says they’ll provide validated email addresses.

[4:34 PT] We are working on some profile changes that will effect developers. Profile boxes will be going away and will be migrating to some of the ways we’re working on in the future. The “Boxes” tab will be killed.

[4:36 PT] Applications that grow quickly will be a flag for us to check them out and we might cut off growth channels until they resolve small policy violations.

Running Tally Of The Big Changes

In this area we’ll update all of the changes coming to the platform.

Requests from friends will be consolidated in the inbox

Email addresses will now be available to developers

Ending Verified Applications And Holding Same Expectations For All Developers

Launching the Open Graph API

F8 Will Be Happening In The First Half Of 2010

Profile boxes will be killed