Facebook Tests Makeover For Messages

By Justin Lafferty 

Facebook really wants messages to be like email. The social network announced Wednesday that it is testing some changes to make its messages feature look a little more like email.

You may not have the new look yet. Check it out here:

With this new design, the list of messages shows up on the left part of a user’s screen. When a message is clicked on, the conversation shows up to the right. Users can now attach multiple images to a message, instead of just sending one at a time. From the main messages screen, users can search by name or keyword. To see the full list of available shortcuts, type “Alt Q” on a PC or “Control Q” on a Mac.

Facebook’s Adam Wolff wrote pretty much anything you could ever want to know about the changes to messages, called The Mercury Project:

We knew The Mercury Project would be a significant effort because Facebook messages, and especially its chat interface, is embedded in a Web browsing experience. As such, it poses some novel challenges as a browser application: It must be highly reliable, yet still be able to load and initialize quickly and incrementally.

A small team set out to tackle these problems, which required some changes not just to Facebook messages, but also to the way that we develop and deliver our software. Eventually, we reached the first milestone for The Mercury Project: replacing the chat and messages jewel implementations with a more reliable version. With other teams such as the real-time infrastructure and messaging infrastructure teams also contributing substantial improvements, we were able to improve reliability and grow usage.

We didn’t set out to build or adopt a framework; The Mercury Project has always been about product. But we did have some guiding principles that informed our approach. The chief among these were: modular design, test-oriented development, and functional programming style.

Readers: What do you think of these changes?

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock. Screenshot courtesy of Facebook.