Facebook Announces New Features for New Profile

Facebook profiles are changing sometime this week and with the impending changes Facebook has a few more announcements about features and enhancements. One of these features is that developers can now create popups for applications that are built within an iframe. The second of these changes is two new parameters that are sent across canvas pages: <em>fb_sig_is_in_profile_tab</em> and <em>fb_sig_profile_user</em>. The first (fb_sig_is_in_profile_tab) is to check whether or not the user has added an application tab to their profile. The latter (fb_sig_profile_user) is passed when the user is interacting with the profile publisher.

A significant update is that you can now access certain user data without sessions. That information includes the user id, first name, last name, timezone, birthday, sex and regional affiliations. I’m a bit surprised at this change as it suggests that Facebook is being more lenient with personal data. While you are not allowed to store all this data it now means that applications can access this information whether or not the user is interacting with the application. Given the new session format, there is the addition of a new API call: Users.isAppUser which enables you to check whether or not the active user has added the application.

Not happy with the privacy settings the user has granted? Prompt them to add more. Thanks to a new FBML tag: <fb:prompt-permision>, you can now ask users to: allow an email to be sent, grant the application an infinite session, update their status, upload and tag photos on behalf of them and finally create and modify marketplace listings. Another addition is the ability to prompt users that have not added your profile box. Finally, there has been clarification on notifications:

You should use general notifications whenever your application is sending a notification on behalf of one user to another user. The user you are sending the notification to can be either another user of your application (including friends of the sender) or a friend of the user who is not a user of your application. We’re adding support to send notifications from one user to another user even if they are not friends, as long as both are users of your application. General notifications must always be sent with an active session for the user who is sending the notification.

Announcement notifications are a new type of notification. They are sent on an application’s behalf to a user of the application and do not require an active session. They should be in the voice of the application.

The ability to send notifications between users that are not friends is an interesting addition and one that I’m sure many developers will appreciate. Check out Facebook’s news announcement for more details.