While still vague in regards to details, Facebook today released some important information regarding their new design that is sure to excite those users that are considering leaving for other networks. The first of such features seems to be a slap in the Face (and maybe a token from former Google Execs) to Google Employee-founded FriendFeed. Facebook is calling the feature, “Publisher”, and from the Developer Wiki,
“The Publisher will be a central focus of communication and sharing in the new profile. It sits right on top of a user’s Feed inviting the user or others to add content. Applications can integrate into the Publisher to provide rich experiences for creating or finding content to post into their own and their friends’ Feeds…
This has replaced the old Wall Attachments feature. Now, Wall is just one type of application for creating content (text content), on par with posting links, or uploading photos or videos. For example, to add a video with the Video application, the user no longer creates a Wall attachment and adds the video. Instead, the user posts a video to a friend’s Feed just as if she were writing a Wall post.”
From the screenshots (to the left), it appears as though you can also comment on each posted item, further encouraging a “conversation” amongst members of the Facebook community. What’s most interesting is the integration with the Facebook Platform API and ability for developers to present items for discussion within a particular user’s Feed. It appears as though your applications will be able to actually utilize the text box within the publisher to present information on a user’s feed in different ways. More information regarding the new combined Feed/Wall can be found here.
Also very interesting is it seems as though Facebook will soon allow, via the publisher, the automatic playing of Flash, and onload events within FBJS. It seems this is Facebook’s answer to the demand from users migrating from Myspace and the competition from Bebo who allows such onload events.
In addition to the publisher, Facebook has released more information via their developers wiki about the Tabs that will be available, and how applications will be displayed via those tabs. It appears as though at first, all applications will be rendered in their current form in a tab called “boxes” (they mentioned earlier today that name may be temporary). What’s new though is it seems as though your application will be able to give the user options to render other forms of profile boxes to an “Info” tab on the user’s profile. It’s unclear, but this could mean your application will be able to have multiple forms of displaying itself within the user experience beyond just Canvas pages, profile boxes, and feeds. A new FBML tag has been created for this purpose called “” which appears to give your application the ability to have the user add a “section” to their profile. (I now need to update FBML Essentials!) Such section will have the ability to display image objects or text that the user can type and provide to your application.
Facebook is also allowing your applications to register an “Application Tab URL” which will have your Application appear in a list of applications next to a “+” (plus) sign in the list of tabs. The user will then have the option to add your Application as a tab, offering an alternate canvas view of your application for the user’s friends to see.
Beyond the Info and Boxes tabs, it’s a bit unclear as to what the other tabs will be called. The most recent screenshot by them includes a “Photos”, “Wall”, and “Feed” tab, but it seems as though the Wall and Feed may be combined to produce the “Publisher”. It could be that the current “News Feed” will be under the Feed tab, while the combined Mini-Feed and Wall will be under the Wall tab. I’m sure we’ll see more screenshots soon. Also of note is that the Action items, the links below your profile image currently, will be no more. Instead you’ll be able to offer your users interactivity via the publisher and other integration points throughout the user’s profile.
It also seems as though the separate News Feed/profile is no more when you log in. It seems they are bringing the focus on the profile and including what is now the “News Feed” to become what will be the “Feed” tab. I like this new concept and hope it catches on – I think it will be a win-win for both Facebook, users, and developers in that it will bring a more fluid experience to users, and encourage discussion and people more than anything else.
With the release of this information to the developers wiki it seems Facebook is on the verge of releasing the new design very soon. I would expect to see such features in the next week or two, considering it was originally supposed to launch last month.
UPDATE: Facebook just released their official announcement here: http://developers.facebook.com/news.php?blog=1&story=107