Yes. Facebook will deprecate all previous feed publishing functions after December 20, 2009 and your applications need to move to the OpenStream API by then. The new API implements the Streams feature, which is based on the Activity Streams standard. That’s not news. And nothing after this point is news anymore, but a short tutorial on how to get ready before Facebook deprecates a few functions which your application might be using, eventually destabilisng it. One short tip at the end of it all for your application.
So as per the new Streams functionality rolled out a few days ago across all Facebook profiles, as an application, you will need a special permission, publish_stream, to automatically publish stories to a user’s wall which is visible to the user’s friends. You need to ask for that permission by prompting the user. Until you don’t have that permission, you can use the FBJS call Facebook.streamPublish to render a feed form and have the user approve or cancel the publishing of the story right there.
As I reckon, employing the FBJS call might be a better thing to do as users may not readily give your application permission to print stories to their walls whenever you want. In fact, let me present the case of why you should ONLY use the FBJS call for all the feed story publishing needs in your application.
What Facebook.streamPublish does is show a feed form to the user which has two choices, either to publish the story contained in the form to the user’s profile or skip it. And before I proceed on feed forms, a legal advice here. You cannot show feed forms to the user whenever your application feel likes, but you have to present the user a choice as he/she takes any action on your application, if they would like to have a feed story printed on their profile page and then only. The clause that mandates this behavior is DPP.VI.1 which says “You must not display a Feed form unless a user has explicitly indicated an intention to share that content, by clicking a button or checking a box that clearly explains their content will be shared.”. Moving on, a typical feed form looks like this:
You can supply the title(Fappside.com – Facebook News), the link of the title, the description text, thumbnail paths which will be resized to 90×90 pixels, other custom properties(Founded and Category), and action links(Become a Fan). The arguments have to be passed in a JSON array alongwith some other parameters. The function is of the form:
Facebook.streamPublish: FBJS call method and parameters
Facebook.streamPublish(user_message, attachment, action_links, target_id, user_message_prompt, callback, auto_publish, target_id);
I will detail two parameters only, the rest you can find explained here.
auto_publish: If this is set to true, and the currently logged in user has already given your application stream_publish permission, the user won’t see the feed form and instead the story will get published automatically. If you set AUTO_PUBLISH false, the feed form will show up no matter what.
target_id: This argument tells on whose behalf to submit the story. If this is set to null, it defaults to on behalf of the user currently logged in. If it is the ID of a Facebook Page and the currently logged in user is the admin of that page, the story is published to the wall of the Page, on behalf of the page.
Here is some example code to print a story using Facebook.streamPublish in PHP, FBML & FBJS. I am assuming you have a application already set up and you have a FBML canvas page.
PHP: Setting up the Feed Story parameters
$feedStory = array(
‘name’ => ‘Fappside.com – Facebook News’,
‘href’ => ‘http://fappside.com’,
‘description’ => “Fappside is all about what’s in and out of Facebook, real time”,
‘properties’ => array(‘Category’ => ‘Facebook News & Reviews’, ‘Founded’ => ‘November 2009′)
);$feedStory['media'] = array(
‘type’ => ‘image’,
‘src’ => ‘http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/object2/1487/68/n187160399906_2453.jpg’,
‘href’ => ‘http://fappside.com’
‘type’ => ‘image’,
‘src’ => ‘http://fappside.com/wp-content/themes/headlines/thumb.php?src=http://fappside.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/pen.jpg&h=90&w=90&zc=9&q=95′,
‘href’ => ‘http://fappside.com’
var js_feedStory = <?php echo json_encode($feedStory); ?>;
var js_actionLinks = <?php echo json_encode(array( array(‘text’ => ‘Become A Fan’, ‘href’ => ‘http://www.facebook.com/fappside’))); ?>;
var js_targetId = null; //Keep this null if you want the feed story to appear on the user’s profile
var js_userMsg = ”; //The string which appears in the text input field. Note that the user can change this before publishing
var js_headlineMsg = “What’s on your mind?”; //A text label above the text input field prompting the user to write something in the text input field
var AUTO_PUBLISH = false;
var js_actorId = null;
<a href=’#’ onclick=”Facebook.streamPublish(js_userMsg, js_feedStory, js_actionLinks, js_targetId, js_headlineMsg, js_callback, AUTO_PUBLISH, js_actorId);”>Publish</a>
The above setup will print a feed story that looks like this by default:
and like this when the See More link in the feed story is clicked:
That’s it with the Facebook.streamPublish method. Do let me know in the comments section if you find anything while doing this yourself, interesting or annoying. Now onto the tip I promised.
This is actually handy and we have been looking for it since sometime. The Add Bookmark feature on the application canvas pages, instead of relying on the humility of the sole link in Facebook’s bottom navigation bar with the application icons to work its magic. All you have to do now is embed the FBML <fb:bookmark /> on your canvas pages and a pretty button will be rendered. It even works on profile tabs. If the user has already bookmarked your application, Facebook will know that beforehand and won’t show the button. There may also be situations where you want to know in your code if a specified user has bookmarked your application or not, and for that use the following FQL query, where $uid is the ID of the user you want to learn about.
PHP: FQL Query to retrieve information from bookmarked column of Permissions
$facebook->api_client->fql_query(“select bookmarked from permissions where uid=’$uid’;”); //will return Array (  => Array ( [bookmarked] => 0/1 ) )
I think I have talked enough uptil now. I am looking for topics to write on that may interest you, so if you already know what you like to see, holler here and I will take note, and might do something. Looking forward to a conversation now with you in the comments section.