New Facebook Profile Page will mean big changes for apps

The Facebook Platform team just released more information tonight about the impact of the upcoming profile page changes on applications.

Facebook’s paradigm for application profile page integration is changing significantly from the current implementation. Developers should note a few items in particular:

  • Whereas installed application boxes always currently appear on the profile page, after the change they will not by default appear on the default tab of the profile. Users will need to explicitly choose to add the box to the “Wall” tab of their profile page.
  • On the “Wall” tab of the profile (which is the default tab), up to 3 profile boxes will appear by default. They must all be in the narrow column, and have a maximum height of 400 pixels.
  • Up to 5 application profile boxes can appear on the “About” tab, and they can be wide there.
  • Facebook “may” add a tab containing application profile boxes to a user’s home page, but that has not been decided yet.
  • Users can add between 2-4 application tabs to their profile – exactly how many is not determined yet, and Facebook has not announced how users will add application tabs. Tabs will work like current canvas pages.
  • There will be new API calls and FBML tags.

Because users will have more limited profile page real estate to play with, only the apps that provide the most value to users will get prime Wall tab real estate. These changes will likely have a pretty big impact on the value of the profile box as a point of retention/engagement and a viral channel for applications as a whole.

Here’s the complete FAQ from Facebook:

  1. Will Facebook applications appear in the narrow column?
    Facebook applications won’t appear in the narrow column by default, but users can add them there if they so choose.
  2. How many applications will appear in the narrow column?
    By default, three applications will appear in the narrow column. The rest will appear in the extended profile, like they can today.
  3. What are the width and height of the profile box in the narrow column?
    Profile boxes in the narrow column will continue to have the same width and padding as today, with a maximum height of 400 pixels.
  4. On which tabs will the narrow column appear?
    The narrow column will definitely appear on the “Wall” tab. It will possibly appear on the About tab.
  5. Will the narrow column appear on the application tabs?
    At this time, the narrow column will not appear on an application tab. This is to keep user focused on the selected application.
  6. Will the About tab have profile boxes?
    Yes, up to five profile boxes can appear on the About tab. We’ll provide two templates for formatting the boxes, one for lists an
    d one for thumbnails with captions.
  7. What is the width of About tab box?
    The About tab box is going to be 500 pixels wide. We’re adding an additional 10 pixels of padding on the l
    eft side and 20 pixels of padding on the right.
  8. Can applications go in the wide column?
    There are no profile boxes in the wide column of the “Wall” tab. However, there will be sections for applications in the wide column on the About tab. See the screen shot of the About tab. Note the section for the “My Best Friends” application (bear in mind that the design might change).
  9. Will there be a general tab for all applications?
    While we aren’t providing a tab for all applications, we are considering a tab on the user’s Facebook Home page for application boxes.
  10. What do I need to do to create an application tab?
    Application tabs will work like regular canvas pages. We’ll release more information on integrating into application tabs soon.
  11. How many application tabs can exist before they appear in the “more” section?
    We are currently deciding between two and four.
  12. What is the width for the new application tabs?
    Application tabs will run the width of the page — 903 pixels. We’re adding an additional 20 pixels of padding on each side. The screen shot of the Photos tab should give you an idea of the dimensions of an application tab. (Note that the design of the Photos tab and of application tabs overall might change.)
  13. How many application profile action links can appear?
    By default, three application profile action links will appear on the profile, but that can change depending on user behavior. There won’t be a link to display more profile action links.
  14. Are there going to be new API calls or FBML tags?
    Yes, we are changing the Platform API and creating new FBML tags. We will release more information about them very soon on this blog.
  15. Why are you combining Wall and Mini-Feed on the “Wall” tab?
    The profile is a place where a user might catch up with a friend by reading a new Wall post, or by seeing a Mini-Feed story with pictures from a trip they just took. While the Wall and Mini-Feed may seem like two totally separate things, both can contribute towards telling a more complete story. The idea behind combining the Wall and Mini-Feed is to put all of the most important information in the same place, so users don’t have to constantly search around to keep up with their friends. We’ve posted a screenshot detailing this on the Facebook Profiles Previews Page (become a fan of this Page so you can stay up to date on the improved profile). The new “Wall” now consists of Wall posts as we currently know them, but also stories users once saw in their Mini-Feeds. This allows friends to write on a user’s wall, directly after other content they might find interesting. The goal is to make a cleaner, more relevant Wall that compiles the most relevant information about the people a user cares about. And given the Wall’s popularity with users, we are working out a way to easily filter down to just Wall posts from a friend’s profile.
  16. What is the timeframe for us to make these changes?
    We plan to release the updated profile to our users in early April, 2008.