Facebook Moving Toward IFrames Over FBML for Canvas Apps and Page Tabs

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Facebook today is announcing new updates to its Platform product roadmap to give developers more visibility on what’s coming down the pipe. One of the more important notes for developers of both canvas applications and application tabs for Pages is that Facebook is moving toward IFrames over FBML.

First, Facebook says that by the end of this year, it will “no longer allow new FBML applications to be created, so all new canvas applications and Page tabs will have to be based on IFrames and our JavaScript SDK.” However, Facebook says it will “continue to support existing implementations of the older authentication mechanism as well as FBML on Page tabs and applications.”

This marks the completion of a shift since the Platform launched in 2007. Originally, Facebook encouraged developers to built their apps in FBML, Facebook’s Platform-specific markup language, while apps built with iFrames experienced some functionality limits.  However, over time developers (and Facebook) have moved toward the iFrame model, which offers some architectural benefits, as explained well by former Facebook Platform engineering lead Charlie Cheever.

Second, Facebook says that it will begin supporting IFrames for Page tabs “in the next few months.” This means that the way developers build applications on Page tabs will be consistent with the dominant way they are built on canvas pages, which should simplify development processes (and support costs).

Finally, Facebook says it will begin using OAuth 2.0 for authentication on all Facebook apps on Facebook.com, the web, and mobile devices. Developers can start testing the “OAuth 2.0 for Canvas” migration on the app settings page, which Facebooks says “will become the default for all new applications during the next couple months.”