A few sources have alerted me to a project that Facebook has been working on: integrating Facebook Connect directly with WordPress. For all you developers that also thought that building a Facebook Connect plugin would be brilliant idea, you might want to stop development. While the timetable for releasing this plugin isn’t clear, there’s a good chance that it will be released in the coming weeks.
Facebook Blog Comments
Facebook Connect is still in beta mode and can only be accessed by developers but there is actual code from this plugin floating around (we actually have a copy of it). This means that rather than having to register for every site that you visit, you will simply be able to login with your Facebook account. Soon enough, it will also mean that you will have access to all of your friends that are on Facebook on any other site you visit.
For the time being, the plugin functionality is limited to comments. How does this work exactly? If you were at f8 then you saw David Recordon of Six Apart, demo the functionality of Facebook Connect comments in Moveable Type. In similar form, you will go to a comment form, click on a link which logs you into the blog’s application on Facebook and then your comments to that blog will start showing up in your Facebook profile feed.
The difference with the Facebook WordPress plugin is that the WordPress plugin is an internal Facebook project. This also means that Facebook wants to be able to own the comments on your site. Anytime you enable users to login via Facebook, you won’t have access to their email address, unlike Disqus and native WordPress comments. That would probably be my greatest complaint.
Blogs as An Extension of Facebook
In the not too distant future, WordPress will be unveiling a much anticipated social network service for WordPress blogs: BuddyPress. The new service enables site owners to integrate social networking features directly into their blogs. If you thought remembering all of your logins was hard before, imagine what it will be like when every site you visit has its own social network.
Find a new friend on a remote social network? You can easily add them as a Facebook friend rather than having multiple locations for all of your connections. So how soon can you expect to launch Facebook functionality into your own site? No timeframe is available yet based on publicly available information.
The launch of social networking features into blogs that integrate with Facebook Connect will directly compete with Google’s Friend Connect service (which already has a service in beta).
While you can’t test out this plugin without being a developer, this is definitely a great first step. It also makes me wonder why Facebook put internal resources to this project when there are countless other developers working on their own WordPress Facebook plugins. My guess is that this plugin was being developed to further the Facebook Connect documentation.
My only complaint remains to be that I don’t get access to a user’s email when they “register” to comment on my site. Leveraging this plugin provides blogs with a great opportunity to gain exposure through the Facebook news feed. Please note that if you’ve tried out the plugin but it doesn’t work, it was developed using the “Kubric” default theme on Facebook. That’s according to documentation provided by Adam Hupp, the Facebook developer behind this project.
We’ve been contacted by Facebook and asked to remove the plugin since it isn’t licensed for distribution. I’ve gone ahead and done so 🙁 Also, they’ve said this wasn’t technically an “official” internal project as he was working on it in his free time. Not sure what to say about that.