Reminder: Deprecation of FMBL Page Apps and POST for Canvas Deadlines Approach

This week, Facebook is completing two major migrations that impact Page admins and could break apps if developers haven’t prepared. Starting March 11th, Page admins will no longer be able to install new FMBL apps and developers will no longer be able to create them. Instead, they are to develop and install iframe apps.

Also, starting March 12th, all applications must use POST for Canvas to encrypt User IDs to protect the privacy of users. Today Facebook outlined a clever plan where the migration will go live gradually so unprepared apps will only break for a few minutes a day at first.

Facebook has made repeated announcements of these changes, displayed them on the Developer Roadmap. and offered documentation and testing options in an effort to minimize breakage and not surprise any admins or developers.

FBML Deprecation

Announced in August, Friday’s shift to from FBML to iframe apps was planned to let Page admins offer richer functionality without forcing users to leave their Page. Admins have been able to install iframe apps since February 10th, but won’t be able to install anything else starting Friday.

To change their apps from FBML to iframe, developers can go into the Page Tab settings of the Developer app and modify the Page Tab Type.

The change will allow the same applications to be run on their own or as Page tab apps. Facebook says it will also allow developers to program all Facebook apps in the “same simple, standards-based web programming model (HTML, JavaScript, and CSS).” Engineers won’t have to learn any Facebook-specific language to create Page tab apps.

However, FBML was more accessible to novice programmers in some ways, since it used uniform code snippets. Therefore, it will now take more traditional coding experience to create Page tab apps.

For those without that experience, Wildfire Interactive and some independent developers have released apps that make it easy to create an iframe welcome tab for Pages, while Involver and Buddy Media have provided some analysis of the new capabilities and policies of iframe Page tabs.

POST for Canvas Deadline

On November 23rd, Facebook released a solution to the problem of third-parties gaining access to User IDs when they are passed in an HTTP Referrer Header. This issue led to a lot of negative press about Facebook’s privacy and security, even though the User ID only provides publicly available information.

The solution, called POST for Canvas, has been available for testing since November 23rd, left beta and became the default for new applications on December 10th, and becomes mandatory on March 12th.

At 12pm PST that day, Facebook will turn the migration on for five minutes before turning it off. Apps that haven’t prepared for the migration will break, but then come back to life, sending a hard reminder to developers to adopt Post for Canvas. Each subsequent day the migration will go live for increasing amounts of time until it in effect around the clock.

To test the migration before the 12th, developers can go to the Advanced tab of the Developer app, and enable POST for Canvas under Migrations.