Platform Update: Test Users, Timestamps, Displayed Key/Value Pairs, and Bug Reports

This week’s Platform Update on the Facebook Developers Blog announced the newfound ability to determine all the applications owning a specific test user, a limit on the number of key/value pairs displayed in stream stories published through the API, timestamps on developer site pages, and a guide to submitting high quality bug reports.

Facebook implemented a new API-controlled test user system for applications in November. Now developers can now use the GET "TEST_USER_ID"/ownerapps to determine all the apps that own that test user. Developers include the access token of one of the owning apps in a call detailed in the blog post.

Applications can publish an unlimited number of custom key/value pairs as attachments when publishing to the stream on a user’s behalf via the API. This allows the developers to later collect data about user posts, such as geographic location, using stream.get. Developers can still publish an unlimited number of these key/value pairs, but only the first three pairs will be displayed in the news feed.

To increase transparency regarding when pages on Facebook’s developers site are updated and help developers quickly determine if something has changed since their last visit, all developers site pages now show a timestamp at the bottom. The timestamp can either show a number of hours since the last update, the day it was updated, or an approximate amount of time since the last update. For instance, the documentation page for stream attachments shows it was “Updated about 3 months ago”.

To help Facebook’s bug triage team process incoming bug reports more quickly, the blog post include some tips for developers on what to include in their reports. It recommends that developers first search existing bug reports to make sure they don’t submit redundant reports. If their bug has already been reported, the post recommends they add reproduction steps for their specific case.

Whether submitting a new report or adding to an existing one, it recommends that developers include as much reproduction information as possible, including step-by-step instructions, URLS, code snippets, user IDs, Paged IDs, app IDs, an explanation of how access tokens were generated,  trace logs, or even a screencast video.

If these elements are not included, Facebook says it will reply to submitted reports with “needs repro” and wait for a response, slowing down the time before the bug can assigned and possibly fixed. Facebook has increased the size of its bug triage team in hopes of decreasing the number of active bugs despite more than 500 new bug topics being created each week.

Developers seeking quick responses to questions can also comment on relevant or recent Developers Blog posts. Developer Relations team members including Douglas Purdy and Cat Lee seem to have stepped up their communication, responding directly to comments, sometimes within a few hours.