Posts tagged ‘1.0’

Facebook recently made a breaking change to the developer process, which makes it impossible for new applications to get the correct API keys. Since this essentially broke all previous versions of SFC, I went ahead and pushed the beta version public. It’s still unfinished, but Facebook didn’t really give me a lot of choice.

So, this is a quick walkthrough of some of the new features of SFC 1.0.

Upgrade Process

The upgrade process is slightly more involved for this one. It is recommended that you deactivate the old SFC plugins before upgrading. Why? Well, if you don’t, you’ll get a bunch of errors when visiting the Plugins screen later, saying that all the old SFC plugins either don’t exist or have an invalid header. These errors are normal, because of the next feature:

One plugin only

No more sub-plugins

Simple Facebook Connect is now a single plugin, with modular features. If you examine the plugins screen, you’ll find only one entry: Simple Facebook Connect.

The many-plugins-in-one was a useful experiment, IMO, and I still think it’s a better way to do things. But many people find it confusing, and some have disagreed with the notion. A lack of useful core support for plugin dependencies and user feedback convinced me to switch it up. So now, SFC is one plugin. But it’s still modular!

Sub-module selections

As you can see in the image, you can still turn on and off pieces of the plugin. Why have a piece running and consuming valuable resources if you’re not using it? Turning a module off completely disables it in the code. And the core of SFC itself is still written modularly, for maximum performance (since integrating Facebook itself is such a drag on performance for a site to begin with).

Support for new Facebook code

Over a year ago, Facebook stopped supporting the original Facebook Connect libraries. This was a major problem for sites, however the old code still worked. So as time went on, and the old Connect libraries started to degrade and become less and less useful, SFC was rewritten from the ground up to use all the newer supported libraries. Facebook’s JS SDK is used. FB’s Graph API is used. The old Facebook REST Platform code is completely gone, as are the older incompatible Facebook Connect libraries. OpenGraph meta tags (including embed info for images and video) are inserted into the entire site, completely automatically, allowing Facebook to see the content of your site and act accordingly.

Many of the plugins themselves have been rewritten fairly extensively as well, but with this comes some removal of older code.

Faux Share button settings

The Share button is gone. It was previously implemented using the older Connect libraries, but with the newer libraries from Facebook, it’s been completely removed. There was just no good way to retain it, Facebook has simply dropped any and all support for it. So, in it’s place (because it was so handy) is a modified Like button, which can still look sorta like the old Share button. The SFC module is still named Share, for ease of transition. The Like button itself is still around too, so you can use both Like and Share to get two Like buttons on the same post, perhaps for different placement.

The Bookmark widget is gone. It simply isn’t supported anymore, and didn’t work anyway.

The Find on Facebook widget is gone. This didn’t do really anything special to begin with, other than place the Find Us image into a widget, with a link to the Facebook Page. The image it once used is still included in the plugin, for people that want to do this themselves via a text widget.

The Connect widget is gone, but may make a return in the next version, as soon as some bugs are sorted out.

The Upcoming Events widget is gone. It rarely worked properly to begin with, and the newer XFBML libraries doesn’t have support for it anymore. A alternate approach to this may make it back into the next version.

All the remaining widgets have been combined into a single module for use on the widgets screen. In addition, most of them still have a way to access them directly, such as from a function call in a theme.

Publisher settings

The Publisher has been simplified greatly. For one, auto-publishing now works even for Applications! The confusing permissions dialogs have been reduced to one. Colored indicators have been added, showing when the plugin has the necessary “tokens” from Facebook in order to be able to publish properly. The manual publishing functionality is still on the edit post screens too.¬†And for those people using the auto-publish, a new system for pulling Facebook comments on their published posts back into the blog has been implemented.

For those who wanted it, Custom Post Type support has been added to the publisher as well. Any CPT marked as “public” gets shared like everything else.

Register screen

The Register system has been completely rewritten to take advantage of Facebook’s new register plugin functionality. It can handle standalone registrations, or registrations using Facebook information. It even adds a Facebook created captcha to prevent spam registrations.

Login has been improved. One of the most common complaints was “What does ‘User not recognized’ mean?” This should be severely reduced now, since the Login module will auto-detect existing users and automatically connect their local WP accounts with their FB accounts, when they try to login. This follows Facebook’s own Registration Flow Models for connecting users to sites.

The Comment system has been improved. The share-after-comment system now happens in the background, no extra popups for users to have to click on. The whole system is now using the Graph API, so no more strange javascript errors causing weirdness. Although there is still some javascript to display the user their picture and info after logging in, so it still has that same look and feel.

There’s a lot more too. I’ll be updating this post with new stuff soon!

 

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Added a new feature that people have been asking me for since I created SFC to begin with: Comments Integration.

Facebook Comments

Facebook comments

When you make a post with SFC, the publisher plugin has the ability to push that post to either your Facebook Page or Profile. Up until now, the auto-publish feature has been doing this and storing meta-data with the post about the resulting “story” id that Facebook sends back. This data was stored, but not really used.

No longer. Now, if you auto-publish to Facebook, you have the option to pull comments back from that automatically published Facebook post and show them in the blog as if they were normal WordPress comments.

You can see this in action here on my own site. On the SFC 1.0 Photo Support post, you’ll find a comment at the bottom made by a user named “Kartsios Vasilis”. That comment wasn’t left here on this site, it was left on the Facebook story¬†corresponding to that post. As you can see, the avatar for the user shows up on the comment, it’s styled differently (I felt the blue background sort of distinguished it), and it doesn’t have a reply link.

Since these aren’t “real” WP comments, and don’t live in the WP database, you can’t reply to them properly. So the reply link is automatically removed for them. I used a styling rule in the CSS to add the “This comment was originally made on Facebook, so replying to it here is not allowed.” message where the Reply link would normally be. Because this is just using a simple CSS style rule, you can make that message anything you like, or not have it at all. That’s up to you and your theme.

The new feature is relatively painless too. No configuration is needed. Every 6 hours (minimum), the plugin will retrieve the relevant comments from the Facebook posts, then store them as a transient. This reduces the amount of work since it doesn’t have to talk to Facebook every time. The comments are then integrated in with the normal comments for the post, and the comment count is updated to reflect the right number.

There’s still some minor detail work to be done. Right now, for example, the comments are just added onto the end of the list of comments, and so they’re out of order. The final version will have the comments integrated in correctly by the date and time they were made. Edit: This is now working, comments are added in the proper order.

If you want to use the beta version of SFC (currently marked as version 0.999) you can find it in the WordPress Plugins SVN repository.

Edit: The CSS to add this text, since people asked, is this:

li.comment.facebook .reply:before {
content:"This comment was originally made on Facebook."
}

Simple, really.

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