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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Facebook Profile Design Focusing More On Feeds

Recently facebook released it's beta sandbox to all users so they can start testing their applications with the new profile design. One of the most significant changes to the profile - the greater focus is on Feed.

The Feed tab is the first tab users will see when viewing their profiles and represents their recent activity. So creating compelling Feed stories that relay your users' engagement with your applications becomes even more important. It is giving you new options to create richer Feed stories that will appear front and center on your users' profiles.

Feed stories come in three sizes: one line, short, and full.

One line stories say what they have to say briefly and concisely, in just one line of text, like "Jan reviewed a movie."

Short stories are more involved than one line stories. Short stories are rendered in various predefined layouts; currently there's one default layout, but more are coming soon.

Full stories provide you with the opportunity to make your stories as expressive as possible with few limitations, similar to how Wall attachments work today. But given their size (500 pixels wide by up to 700 pixels tall), users will probably display short stories in many cases, so make sure your short stories are just as engaging.

All Feed stories are template based. You need to provide at least a one line story template, but it is good to create templates for all three sizes for the best user experience. This way, your users can decide how big of a story they want to show on their profiles. If you don't supply a story size, that size never appears as an option to the user.

It will aggregate one line and (if possible) short stories, but due to their nature and size, full stories won't get aggregated.

Creating Templates

Once you have ideas for the kinds of stories you want to create, you should create the templates for them. You can create a template for each of the three sizes and register them all ahead of time with one call (feed.registerTemplateBundle). This call returns an ID for the template bundle, and when you publish a Feed story, you just supply this template ID.

You can create and register as many template bundles as you want. After you register your templates, you publish user stories with feed.publishUserAction, specifying the template bundle ID at that time.

Mandatory Changes for Your Applications

Once the redesigned profiles go live, It will begin deprecating the existing Feed publishing API methods (feed.publishActionOfUser, feed.publishStoryToUser, and feed.publishTemplatizedAction). The existing API methods will continue to work during the transition period to the new profiles, so you can publish stories using either the existing API methods or feed.publishUserAction.

During the transition period, you should only publish the story once, so you should make use of the old methods or the new methods, but never both. If you are still using the existing Feed methods once the new profiles are launched, stories posted via those methods will only appear as one line stories to News Feed and the Feed tab on the new profiles.

Cut-off date will be announced soon - after that date, the existing methods will no longer be able publish stories to Feeds. You will have plenty of time to update your applications to use the new Feed API calls.

More detailed information is available on the Facebook Developer Wiki. You can read about Feed stories in general and the new API calls in particular.

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