Facebook announced a bunch of things today. There will be a profound impact of these changes on the way we browse our favorite websites and as facebook developers our lives would be very different too.
Open Graph/Semantic web
A big step towards that “semantic web” we were all waiting for – going with their mission to make this world more and more open facebook announced that the websites would have access to an API which allows them to personalize your experience. e.g. You would know which of your friends liked a particular news story on CNN.
The developers would be able to mark their pages and objects with semantically interesting data and send that over to facebook. e.g. when someone likes a movie on IMDB it would go straight to your movies list since IMDB would be able to annotate that feed item as type “movie”.
Facebook announced that Facebook Credit which is currently in beta would come out for the broader ecosystem in June. Facebook Credits is an extremely important piece of the monetization puzzle for facebook and they have thought about this really well. They are also experimenting with many different ways to bring the liquidity in and out of the system.
Like everything, everywhere
The “Become a fan” is now “Like”. You now have a chance to leave your finger prints wherever you are on the web. You could like a song that you listen to on pandora or you could like a new story on CNN. Every web page is an object for facebook to be tracked. Every time you click some blue button you leave your trails.
Facebook also simplified the sharing process and made it a part of the Like experience. Now you could like something or someone on the web and share your comments at the same place.
Simpler and more open APIs for the developers
Facebook wants it to be extremely easy to integrate with them not just for the big websites but also for a small business owner who probably depends on his kid to program his website for him. They made two big policy changes that makes the developers’ lives much easier.
1. Now the websites would be able to store the profile information for longer than 24 hours. Removing this clause from their developer terms of usage makes the developers’ life so much more enjoyable. The applications built without this constraint would be much more powerful and stable.
2. Instead of prompting users for multiple permissions on multiple popups, developers could now prompt them for the access that they need in one screen and make the whole on-boarding process much simpler and faster.
They also announced social widgets that would make it easier for the developers who are not too deep of programmers to get plugged into the facebook party.
The new Open Graph API is a restful implementation of all the existing APIs. It is very simple and as Bret Taylor puts it requires only curl and a browser to get started.
A side comment about a personal observation – One interesting thing I noted was how facebook was able to merge FriendFeed into their organization and how they used Bret Taylor to learn the developer perspective and quickly make huge changes to their platform. I am impressed.
All these changes make the facebook platform powerful yet simple to understand and implement.