Platform Update: Graph API Additions, App Changes and Insights, Data Export

Facebook has published two Platform Updates and another post to the company developer blog over the past few days, detailing a variety of additions to the Graph API of features from the REST API, a new option for the Credits payment flow, alterations to developer resources, and the relocation of App Insights to the Developer app. The changes will allow developers to migrate more of their functionality to the Graph API, streamline the payment flow, and more quickly access technical assistance and metrics for their apps.

Graph API Changes

Here are the functionalities that can now be handled through the Graph API, followed by possible uses for them.

From the Labor Day update:

  • Reading friend requests – developing Facebook clients
  • Managing banned app users – programmatically enforcing app ground rules
  • Getting and setting app migrations – programmatically toggling migrations to efficiently test for bugs
  • Checking if a user is an admin of a Page – managing roles for Facebook Page management tools

From the September 2nd update:

  • Reading and managing notifications –  developing Facebook clients, determining if additional notifications need to be sent
  • Reading achievements – determining a user’s accomplishments to date in your app, their progress in other games, and the progress of their friends

App and Games Changes

As we covered on Inside Social Games, Facebook now allows developers to use a streamlined Credits payment flow in their games. This permits them to omit the bulk discounted Credits packages from the purchase options. By showing using fewer options, developers may be able to get users to make an impulse decision to buy and get back to the game before they can drop out of the payment flow.
The Developer app now features a summary of App Insights at the bottom of the profile for a developer’s app. Devs can click through to view all their User, Sharing, News Feed, Performance, Diagnostics, and Credits Insights. This should make checking Insights a more natural part of administrating Facebook applications.
With the recent changes to the Games and Apps Dashboards, Facebook has deprecated the ability for developers to publish news and activity to the Dashboards. In turn, it has deprecated the following APIs associated with these old functionalities:
  • dashboard.addGlobalNews
  • dashboard.addNews
  • dashboard.clearGlobalNews
  • dashboard.clearNews
  • dashboard.getActivity
  • dashboard.getGlobalNews
  • dashboard.getNews
  • dashboard.multiAddNews
  • dashboard.multiClearNews
  • dashboard.multiDecrementCount
  • dashboard.multiGetNews
  • dashboard.publishActivity
  • dashboard.removeActivity
In a change to session redirect behavior, Facebook explained that it has “started adding a fragment #_=_ to the redirect_uri when this field is left blank.” Developers should test to make sure this doesn’t cause any issues of their apps.
There have also been some bugs with FB.Canvas.setAutoResize causing app heights to be set improperly. Facebook is working on a solution.
Developer Resources
Facebook is now sending warning emails to apps that cross the threshold of having too much negative feedback as benchmarked in App Insights. Developers then have 48 hours to correct the issue before they are reevaluated by Facebook’s automated enforcement systems. If the problem isn’t addressed, a developer’s apps may be disabled. This should reduce the incidence of developers being surprised with enforcement, as they were before Facebook instituted its improved enforcement system.
A “Support” section has been added to the Developers site which aggregates links to Facebook’s new Stack Overflow technical Q&A, the bug tracking system for reporting reproducible bugs, the official Facebook Group for developers for community discussion, and the beta tier where upcoming code changes can be tested.
The Developers Blog has been experiencing issues with delivering emails to subscribers about new posts, but Facebook will have a fix ready by September 14th.

Data Export, Photo Tag Apps

Facebook has recently added microformats the HTML included with zip file users receive from the Download Your Information tool, TechCrunch reported today. This will help the file be more compatible with apps a user has given access to the file to. That access could then pave the way for apps that help users recreate their social graph outside of Facebook.

The change is being accompanied by a warning to developers that those looking to export social data from Facebook should have their users acquire and submit the Download Your Information file, and not use the Facebook Platform. Developers that try to export data from Facebook via Platform applications will have their apps disabled.

Facebook even explicitly names Google, with which it’s had data portability arguments, explaining “If you are building an app whose purpose is to export data to another social network such as Google+, you should use Download Your Information, not Facebook Platform.”

Photo tags applied by users are now clearly attributed as part of Facebook’s new privacy system. In accordance, apps that apply photo tags will be have the tags attributed to them in news feed stories.

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