As Facebook’s f8 Developer Conference Approaches, a Recap of Its Rumored Launches

Facebook’s first f8 developer conference in two years is happening next Wednesday, and it will feature big announcements from the company. Here’s our look at the latest hints and rumors about what might be launched.

Open Graph API: Facebook revealed its plans for this platform API last fall, during its big “roadmap” presentation when it layed out its platform plans to developers. Before we discuss it further, here’s the official description:

The Open Graph API will allow any page on the Web to have all the features of a Facebook Page – users will be able to become a Fan of the page, it will show up on that user’s profile and in search results, and that page will be able to publish stories to the stream of its fans….

Once implemented, developers can include a number of Facebook Widgets, like the Fan Box, or leverage any API, which enable the transformation of any Web page so it functions similar to a Facebook Page. For example, AwesomeTees might decide that strategically they would like to locate their brand identity at AwesomeTees will install the Fan Box widget, which will allow any Facebook user to “Become a Fan” of AwesomeTees, thereby establishing an official connection to AwesomeTees. The user will then have AwesomeTees listed in their list of connections on their profile as Pages are represented today. Additionally, any content that AwesomeTees publishes on will show up in the stream on Facebook like it normally would. And, any time the user searches on Facebook, AwesomeTees will show up in the typeaheads and prominently in search results.

The roadmap says that the Open Graph API is due out in the second quarter of this year. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that it will be specifically launched at f8; given that this fits with Facebook’s publicly stated timeline, that is quite likely.

As what would likely be part of the Open Graph API, TechCrunch wrote that Facebook is planning to let users “like” activity on other sites, thereby sharing that action back on to their profile and news feed for their friends to see: “One way to think of this, says a source with knowledge of the product, is this. Google spends billions of dollars indexing the web for their search engine. Facebook will get the web to index itself, exclusively for Facebook.” Meanwhile, All Facebook recently spotted code suggesting that Facebook is planning to extend its Insights analytics service to the web, as well.

Facebook Connect: We expect the company to clarify how Connect and the Open Graph API overlap. Broadly, they appear to be doing similar things. Connect, which has been around for years, lets third parties access Facebook user data from other services and share user communication back and forth with the site. Facebook recently made a big update to its terms of service, that specifically includes wording around giving select off-site partners special new access to user data. It sounds like an extension of how Connect already works. Here’s an excerpt:

In order to provide you with useful social experiences off of Facebook, we occasionally need to provide General Information about you to pre-approved third party websites and applications that use Platform at the time you visit them (if you are still logged in to Facebook). Similarly, when one of your friends visits a pre-approved website or application, it will receive General Information about you so you and your friend can be connected on that website as well (if you also have an account with that website).

A probably-related report: Facebook is working on ways for third parties to store user data for more than 24 hours.