Back in October, Facebook published a “roadmap” of changes that would be taking place then through the beginning of 2010. We have posted articles on this here, but wanted to dig deeper into an area that is going to have a significant impact on users and developers and a huge impact on our My Info custom profile box application.
The net of the announcement is that users will no longer be able to have any custom profile boxes on their Wall or Info tab by early January. The only current functionality that will be supported is the currently available full-page custom tabs. However, these custom application tabs will shrink from 760 pixels wide to 520 pixels wide.
I do like the fact that Facebook is now sharing their roadmap ahead of time. Previously, they would simply make massive changes to the site without any real warning. Users would get miffed and complain like crazy. So this is a step in the right direction. However, they still aren’t really explaining very well the reasoning for the changes.
Without getting too “preachy”, I think removing custom profile boxes from user’s Facebook Profiles is silly. They’ve always placed very strict limitations on the number of them, where they appeared, and what could go in them. All those rules were annoying to users and developers, but at least they kept Facebook from looking like a “pimped out” MySpace profile. However, I see no legitimate reason to remove user’s ability to place small boxes of information on their Wall and Info tabs.
Facebook offers up “custom tabs” as an alternative, but we’ve always had custom tabs. My Info fully supports them and they are nice when you want to display a TON of information, but they don’t replace the need to show small bits of information to users on your main profile. This is going to hide most custom information from users unless they take the time to click through each of your custom tabs on your profile.
Also, let’s not forget that the custom profile tabs are getting smaller by about 200 pixels in width. For most people, this won’t be a huge issue, but if you have very large images or a site laid out with multiple columns of specific widths, you will need to adjust your layout.
One direction that I am considering personally, is providing the capability to have a single custom tab that displays information from all of my XtremelySocial Facebook applications. This would allow custom text from My Info combined with your recent Facebook status updates from My Status and even recent gifts given and received from My Greetings. Does this sound like a good idea? Please share your comments and ideas on this.
Here is an exact excerpt from Facebook’s developer site regarding profiles:
Going forward (in the short term) application tabs will be the only way applications can integrate into profiles and Facebook Pages. We will remove profile boxes, application info sections, and the Boxes tab. We are exploring additional ways to enable developers to integrate into profiles and Pages.
Application tabs will be the only way to integrate applications into profiles and Pages. Application tabs will shrink from 760 pixels wide (today) to 520* pixels wide to accommodate a slightly revised design. Boxes, info sections, and the Boxes tab will be removed in the near future.
In the longer term we are evaluating a number of new and interesting ways for you to help users express connections to your applications as a part of their identity. You can expect to see some of this thought emerge in future iterations of the profile.
*Note: We previously stated that profile tabs would be shrinking to 510 pixels. Our latest designs indicate they will instead be 520 pixels. We’ll keep this page updated with the latest information.
Where will users’ profile boxes go?
Profile boxes will not exist in the near future. Application tabs will be the only way developers can integrate into the profile. If integrations on the profile are an important part of your application, we encourage you to focus development and transition to application tabs.
Will you offer an “Add Profile Tab” button, like some of the other buttons you’ve released?
Yes, we’re hoping to create something like this — most likely in early 2010.
Here is a link to the original article.