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Facebook’s Open Stream API Expands

August 5, 2009

This afternoon Facebook’s Open Stream API, which launched in late April, will be getting a few new additions that make the API significantly more robust and easier for developers to integrate.

One feature that will be familiar to Twitter and FriendFeed users is a new ‘via’ attribution, pointing out to your friends how you submitted your latest update. This can add to the virality of new applications — if you start seeing that many of your friends are using a certain app, you’re probably more likely to check it out for yourself. Before now Facebook had shown the icon of whatever application or site was posting to your profile, but it didn’t actually name it.

Another major addition to the API is enhanced functionality for Facebook Pages. Page administrators will now be able to post updates to their Page from Facebook applications. Before now there were some loopholes that allowed developers to integrate support for Pages, but the API didn’t officially support it. Now, these features are fully baked in.

Finally there’s a new JavaScript version of Facebook’s stream.publish function. Many sites have already been using Facebook’s ‘Share’ feature for some time, which allows you to post a given webpage to your Facebook feed (it’s also extremely easy to integrate). But using Share, developers haven’t been able to specify what those posted stories should actually display — Facebook just scrapes the page for its title and a brief description. Using stream.publish, developers can customize these shared items as they’d like, including messages like “Jason just wrote this comment on TechCrunch” or “Michael just purchased tickets to Hawaii on Orbitz”. Stream.publish has been around since the API launched in April, but now that it’s available as a JavaScript function it will be very easy for developers to implement.

For more, check out the Facebook blog.

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