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Nathan

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December 5, 2010

Facebook’s Change From FBML to iFrames

December 5, 2010 | By | 19 Comments">19 Comments

***Updates UNDERLINED and BOLDED***

Everyone wants to know what will happen to their fan pages when Facebook changes from Static FBML to iframes. Facebook made the announcement back in August that they would be moving from the massively popular Static FBML app to iFrames. The FBML app has over 97,737,542 million users as of December 6th, 2010. With this kind of volume, this change will effect an enormous amount of people or about 1/6th of Facebook users. Or will it?


The skinny:

Facebook will continue supporting the creation of new FBML tabs [via applications] through Q4 2010, or the end of December. In January, Facebook will stop supporting the creation of NEW FBML tabs [via applications] but will continue to support previously created FBML pages. Yippee! This means all of your hard work and sweat equity you have put into your page will remain.

Here is a quote from Namita Gupta from the Facebook Developer blog:

We are also moving toward IFrames instead of FBML for both canvas applications and Page tabs. As a part of this process, we will be standardizing on a small set of core FBML tags that will work with both applications on Facebook and external Web pages via our JavaScript SDK, effectively eliminating the technical difference between developing an application on and off Facebook.com.

We will begin supporting IFrames for Page tabs in the next few months. Developers building canvas applications should start using IFrames immediately. By the end of this year, we 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. We will, however, continue to support existing implementations of the older authentication mechanism as well as FBML on Page tabs and applications.

Here is the history of FBML:

– Launch Announced on FB Blog (v1.1) on Wednesday, August 15, 2007 at 12:30am

http://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/28

-Update Friday, December 3rd, 2010 at 9:00pm

“End of Year Deprecations, Page Tab Update

In August, we announced that we are deprecating some infrequently used APIs and FBML tags at the end of the year. We encourage developers to make the necessary code changes soon, because these may be breaking changes.

We will continue letting developers create new FBML Page tab applications until Q1 2011, because we are still working on the iFrame implementation. We are also postponing the deprecation of fb:board until we offer the ability to export data

-Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Fran Larkin · Platform Product Marketing at Facebook said:

We want to give developers time to test and get comfortable with the iframe solution before it’s required, but we haven’t finalized the timing yet.

-Saturday, December 4th at 3:52pm

This was in response to the question of will FBML be allowed THROUGH January 2012 or not by James at Facebook:

we want everyone to move to iframe canvas apps as soon as possible.

-Saturday, December 5th, 2010

In a question directly asked on the FB Blog,

“Can I ask for further clarity on one point; will we be able to migrate an existing FBML tab application to the new iFrame methodology?, Douglas Purdy of Facebook replied: @ James. Yes, but you need to change the code on our page.”

Additionally, Douglas Purday of FB stated:

I’ll be very clear…

1. if you have an existing FBML page tab application, your tab is going to keep working.2. i’ll repeat, your tab is going to keep working now and after Q1 2011.3. that said, we want everyone to start using iframes, so we are going to make all _new_ page tabs and canvas apps using iframes as soon as we can.4. we had hoped that we would have iframe for tabs ready this year, but we are not ready.5. so we are delaying the roll-out until Q1 2011.6. after we roll it out, we will have some period before we make it default for new apps.

What does this mean for you? Create as many fan page tabs using FBML [via applications] as you can now because come January you have no guarantee you’ll be able to. Even worse, you won’t be able to easily change your FBML tabs to iframe ones without recoding them via http://www.facebook.com/developers/ . This process involves API keys, your own servers, and coding that, quite frankly, is not something an average person could easily understand or learn.

To summarize:

-       The creation of new FBML tabs between now and January 2011 will be allowed

-       After January 2011, no new FBML tabs can be created [via applications]

-       iFrames will need to be used for all future Fan Page customization [via applications]

-       Facebook will leave the FBML tabs you have already created up and active even after January 2011.

What is the best part about this change? For all of you that used to code applications and canvas pages using Facebook’s app development dashboard, Lujure lets you create fan page tabs that won’t be effected by Facebook’s changes.

Did you find this update helpful? Feel free to post questions below!

 

Nathan

Meet 

Nathan Latka has supported the growth of over 100,000 small businesses using social media and data driven campaigns — all without a college degree.

  • http://www.shastapeakmarketing.com Kathleen Keith

    Nathan,
    Thanks for this awesome post—not sure I grasp everything, except you have made what was a muddled mess in my mind, a great deal clearer! Thanks for the heads-up on getting the tabs up on our fan pages. Tell me me more about Lujure can do…

    Thanks,
    Kathleen

  • Anonymous

    You are welcome Kathleen! It is a bit overwhelming and confusing to many!

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  • Ruimarinho

    Good post. i think it’s a good move from facebook and would be good for us developers. specially to get the same code working on and off facebook.

    • Anonymous

      Absolutely. I think you bring up a great point in that there is a lower barrier to entry now as far as developers working with the Facebook platform. How long have you been developing?

  • Gergirl

    Iframe change is not due for some time http://developers.facebook.com/roadmap

    • Anonymous

      Hey Sabine, the release states the change will be made Q1 of 2011 (January of 2011, 18 days away). Sure, knowing Facebook it will take longer, but that is certainly not far away.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Sabine, the release states the change will be made Q1 of 2011 (January of 2011, 18 days away). Sure, knowing Facebook it will take longer, but that is certainly not far away.

  • http://www.hyperarts.com/blog/ Tim Ware

    As I’ve advised Nathan, this post is pretty much incorrect. Facebook is only ending the ability to create FBML canvas applications. It is NOT ending the ability to add Static FBML to your Page and create custom tabs. You can read my full article here: http://bit.ly/hkefTM

    The confusion stems from a misreading of Facebook’s August 2010 statement that “we will no longer allow new FBML applications to be created” — Static FBML DOES NOT create new FBML applications; Static FBML is Facebook’s own application which facilitates the creation of custom tabs that support CSS, HTML, FBML and FBJS (Facebook’s JavaScript flavor). On its own app page (http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=4949752878&b) it says nothing about the app being discontinued.

    This is how rumors get spread. This creates unnecessary hysteria around this change which involves canvas applications.

    • Anonymous

      Tim, I appreciate your input but this piece was put together based on significant research. As we discussed, it comes down to one thing which is interpretation. As you mention Static FBML is in fact an application put together to enable folks to code with FBML.

      The point I am trying to make is this: If Facebook has said that they are deprecating “FBML on both canvas applications, and page tabs”, that means iframes must be used when buildng applications via facebook.com/developers AND (in correlation to “and page tabs”) page tabs. The only other way to use FBML on a page (besides building a canvas APPLICATION) is to use the Static FBML tool.

      I think my points are all valid as are yours. The commonality we can agree on I believe is this: It would be prudent not to move away from FBML as the foundation for creating your custom content on your fan page tabs.

      Thanks for your feedback Tim.

      • http://www.hyperarts.com/blog/ Tim Ware

        The only “fact” I choked on was your summary statement “After January 2011, no new FBML tabs can be created” …. a very definitive sounding statement and one that is simply not supported. You should, at the very least, let folks know that it’s not as cut and dried as you make it sound.

        You’re confusing Facebook’s statement: “By the end of this year, we 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.”

        “and Page tabs” is to distinguish canvas application pages (with a max width of 760px) from those apps when added to a Page as a tab (max width 520px) to become a “Page tab.”

        Facebook gave a 9-month warning for the pixel-width reduction on tabs. So given that on their Static FBML app pages they make no mention of an intention to discontinue the app or its support of FBML (“This application will add a box to your Page in which you can render HTML or FBML … for enhanced Page customisation.”), I’d say that it’s imprudent to state unequivocally as you do that users won’t be able to create any custom tabs with FBML sometime in Q1 2011. I think it just as likely, if not more so, that Facebook will just let it be, particularly due to its enormous user base.

        And, with that, we’ll just have to agree to disagree 😀

        PS: And whoever turns out to be right has to buy the other a drink!

        • Anonymous

          I just love the discussion and back and forth! Regardless, its important folks know whats going on. I am updating this with a video I think you’ll appreciate here in a few as well.

          It really is the confusion between verbage of FBML (canvas/app) and Static FBML IMO.

          *Handshake* on the looser buying drinks 🙂

          • http://www.hyperarts.com/blog/ Tim Ware

            And I owe you a drink! Or two!

    • told you so

      Looks like Nathan had a Crystal Ball! Way to go Nathan

      • http://www.hyperarts.com/blog/ Tim Ware

        After 17 years (!) my email address is likely on every spam list on the planet, so I’m starting anew!

        I’m in the process of informing everyone, but I’m bound to overlook folks. If you don’t receive an email from me with my new email address, please call HyperArts: (510) 339-6084 and you’ll be updated.

        Cheers!
        Tim

  • http://www.hyperarts.com/blog/ Tim Ware

    Nathan, Great video explanation BTW!

    I see you added some qualifiers under “To summarize”, adding “via applications” but I think it’s still a bit confusing. I’d consolidate bullets 2 and 3:

    – Facebook will allow the development of FBML canvas applications “until Q1 2011” after which point only iFrame applications will be allowed.

    As usual, “until Q1 2011” is actually ambiguous. Less ambiguous would have been “through the end of Q4 2010” IF they meant that beginning in Q1 2011 the change takes place. I suspect they keep it ambiguous for obvious reasons 🙂

    • Anonymous

      I hoped that would help a bit! The thing is, as you mention, Q1 consists of 3 months. Is the change happening at the beg, middle, or end?! Time will tell 🙂

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