Archive for Tag ‘facebook‘

THE Facebook Plugin for WordPress?

You may have seen last week that Facebook and Automattic jointly released a plugin called either “Facebook” or “Facebook for WordPress” (depending on who’s announcement you read).

As someone who’s put a lot of work into two WordPress Facebook integration plugins (WPBook and WPBook Lite) over the last several years, I have to confess I had mixed emotions about the launch. On the one hand, it felt a bit like the proverbial 800lb gorilla had just sat on my head: how could we (I’m the lead developer but by no means the only contributor) compete with the combined development teams of Facebook and Automattic? Did they just make the plugins I’ve worked on redundant, or unnecessary?

On the other hand, I’ll admit, I felt a bit of relief. Supporting a plugin like WPBook or its simpler cousin WPBook Lite is no easy task. There are many complex variations in how people have configured WordPress, there are many possible ways to configure a Facebook application, and both keep changing all the time. Just keeping up with the Facebook roadmap and the constant changes to their settings interface is a challenge. Combine that with sometimes less-than-grateful users and a full-time job (not to mention a life outside web development), and it’s quite tempting to just declare the WPBooks closed and move on.

I think, however, there’s still a need (at least for now) for WPBook and WPBook Lite.

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WPBook & WPBook Lite Updates for Deprecated Offline Access

Enable "deprecate offline_access" to get extended access token and be prepared for when Facebook permanently removes offline_access

Facebook’s developer roadmap is always changing. The latest change that impacts WPBook and WPBook Lite is the removal of the “offline_access” permission, coming in July:

The offline_access permission is deprecated and will be removed July 5, 2012. Until then, you can turn this change on or off using the “Remove offline_access permission” migration. On May 2, 2012, we will automatically turn the migration to “enabled” for all apps. If this breaks your app, you can turn the migration back to “disabled” until July 5, 2012 when it will be permanently “enabled” for all apps.

If that wasn’t confusing enough, check out the “Removal of offline access permission” page, which explains that:

While we are removing the use of the offline_access permission, through a migration setting in the Developer App, we are now allowing the option to use access_tokens with a long-lived expiration time that can be renewed each time the user revists your app (see exceptions below). For existing apps that are not using the offline_access permission, there are no changes required for your app, but you should consider using the new endpoint that allows the longer expiration time.


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Testing Facebook PHP SDK 3.1.1

OK, no more testing, no more publishing and unpublishing this page.

WPBook 2.3 is released. This uses the same Facebook SDK (3.1.1) as WPBook Lite which I just released last weekend – this will make it easier to manage both.

It will also let me start work on adding more features to the plugin- a more stable base to work from.


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Facebook Graph API – Post Versus Link

Difficult Choices. (Photo by Beppie K, cc-by-nc-sa license)

Over in the WordPress Support forums for WPBook, WPBook user TheCitizen was asking about the absence of “share” links on Wall Excerpts posted via WPBook. I responded that in my experience posts made via the API (by an App, rather than by the user directly) don’t get “share” links inside Facebook.

He pointed to Facebook Page Publish, a WordPress plugin which also cross-posts to Facebook (though it does not import comments). Posts made via this plugin do get a share link.

Digging in a bit, I realized that Facebook Page Publish uses the Link object in the Facebook Graph API, whereas WPBook and WPBook Lite both use a Post object.

What’s the difference? That’s what I’m trying to determine now.

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WPBook and WPBook Lite: More Options, More Flexibility

A few months ago I discussed the Future of WPBook in this space, specifically what to do about Facebook’s new requirement that all applications providing canvas pages or page tabs had to be accessible via SSL. As I outlined it then, I saw the options as:

  1. Eliminate the canvas page and tab altogether – make WPBook just focus on cross-posting and comment import, thus potentially eliminating the SSL requirement?
  2. Make it optional – keep the canvas page and tab, but make them optional – only for users who want them and have the necessary SSL certificate
  3. Fork the plugin – make a version of the plugin which works like the current model, but also a second (WPBook Lite?) that only does cross posting and comment import? That way we could have separate directions for each to simplify setup confusion
  4. Stop developing WPBook – There are a number of other plugins which do Facebook posting, and at least one which does Facebook comment importing (probably more). Is it worth continuing to develop WPBook if better alternatives exist?

Ultimately, I settled on Option 3: Fork the plugin, and create a lighter-weight version which did not include the canvas page or tab. The result is WPBook Lite, available now in the WordPress Plugin Repository.

Should I use WPBook, or WPBook Lite?

I suspect this will be the main question folks will face, so here’s a quick comparison table:

Feature WPBook WPBook Lite
Cross Post WordPress Blog Posts to Facebook X X
Post WordPress Blog Posts to Facebook Profiles (Walls), Pages, and Groups X X
Import comments made against Facebook Excerpt Posts to WordPress as native comments X X
View WordPress Blog inside Facebook as Canvas Page Application X
Add WordPress blog as a tab to a Facebook Page X
Requires WordPress blog be accessible via SSL (HTTPS) X

Basically, if you are able to access your blog via HTTPS, and you WANT the view of the blog inside Facebook as a canvas application, or you want the page tab feature, you should use WPBook.

If your blog is not accessible via HTTPS, or you don’t want the view of the blog inside Facebook / page tab, then you should be happier with WPBook lite.

I’ll be updating the instructions over at WPBook.net shortly to reflect Facebook’s new look for developer settings shortly, and will also differentiate between WPBook and WPBook Lite. In theory, configuring WPBook Lite should be significantly simpler for most users.

If you’re already using WPBook and shift to WPBook Lite, you will need to regrant permissions.

Migrating from WPBook to WPBook Lite:

  1. View your WPBook settings page, and write down your profile ID as well as the IDs of any pages/groups to which you want to cross publish.
  2. Deactivate WPBook (but don’t delete it yet)
  3. Install and Activate WPBook Lite
  4. Set up a new Application for WPBook Lite – this time you should only need the “Website” settings under Integration, not any of the “App on Facebook” section settings
  5. Visit the WPBook Lite settings page in WordPress, fill out the required fields (APP ID, Secret, your profile ID), and save the form
  6. Re-visit the WPBook Lite settings page, where you should now see an opportunity to grant appropriate permissions

If done correctly, WPBook Lite should pick up right where WPBook left off.

If you run into problems, please comment in the appropriate WordPress Support Forums: WPBook or WPBook Lite.