Facebook’s FBML pages are gone… and it’s about time

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Facebook FBML Icon
Facebook FBML Icon

Facebook has announced that they’ve gotten rid of their old FBML pages so if you have any of those pages on Facebook then you’re in for a big surprise next time you go look at your page.

Of course, like with the Facebook Timelines and so many other things, the scammers and less than ethical people have already started to scare people so they can sell them new products that usually don’t really help.

While I understand and support selling products that actually help people, I really hate this rush to grab cash from the scare tactics.

So here’s the truth…

Here’s what Facebook said about the change:

FBML has been deprecated. Starting June 1, 2012 FBML apps will no longer work as all FBML endpoints will be removed. If you are building a new application on Facebook.com, please implement your application using HTML, JavaScript and CSS. You can use our JavaScript SDK and Social Plugins to embedded many of the same social features available in FBML.

What that means is that all Facebook pages that were created using the old FBML (Facebook Markup Language) plain won’t work, anyone who goes to the page with just see a blank page.

In fact, the FBML fan pages actually disappeared on June 6, 2012 and you can reactivate and you should do that immediately but you will need to get them removed or fixed before July 6, 2012 or they will be blank forever.

Do you have FBML pages?

You may not even know if you have FBML pages but there’s an easy way to check because you’ll see the page tab look like this.

Facebook FBML Icon

If you see the little icon in the bottom left corner then you have FBML pages and you need to get them changed.

How do you change your FBML pages?

The answer is that it depends, although the bottom line is they need to be converted into standard Facebook pages or iFrame pages.

For those who are interested here is more detail.

What is FBML?

FBML is Facebook’s original or legacy framework for letting people show non-Facebook content inside of Facebook itself.

It wasn’t a bad solution but it was a proprietary solution and not really the best solution, which Facebook quickly found out and in 2011 they made a change to start using something called iFrames which is a much better solution and not proprietary to Facebook.

Usually, people used FBML tags for things and as simple as displaying the person’s name to complex custom content that showed different pages whether the person liked the page or not.

What is a Static FBML App?

Facebook created an “application” that made it easy for people to create Web pages on Facebook without having to have special pages on your on Web site.

Being FBML these pages are gone.

What is an iFrame App?

An iFrame App is now Facebook’s approved way of putting your content inside of Facebook.

Because it’s an iFrame you can do a whole lot more on your Facebook page than you could with FBML, in fact, the range of what’s possible using iFrame and the new Timeline sized pages is orders of magnitude better.

How to Change from FBML to iFrames

It can be very easy to make the translation or… not so much, depending upon what your existing page is like.

Let’s look at some of the major categories of changes needed.

Static HTML Pages

If your existing FBML-based pages are just static HTML then it’s very easy to convert them to iFrames.

All you need to do is copy the existing static HTML and paste it into an iFrame.

There are 2 tools that do a very good job of making it easy to create Facebook pages with HTML in literally a few seconds:

  1. Static HTML: iFrame Tabs at http://apps.facebook.com/static_html_plus/?fb_source=search&ref=ts
  2. WooBox Custom Facebook Page Tab at http://woobox.com/customtab

The first is simple and totally free while the second is more full featured and has both free and paid versions.

If you only have one simple page then you can use the first one but if you have more than one Facebook page then go with the second one; the free version is good enough for most people.

Static Pages with a Bit of FBML

This is a little more difficult if you want to keep the functionality being used, like the putting the person’s name on the page I mentioned above.

This will require some additional programming to your HTML or find a solution that includes the functionality you want; there are a lot of options with different choices but be careful because not all of them are good enough to consider basing your business on.

Static Pages that Use Conditional Rendering

What this means is if you show different content depending upon some user information like what country they are in or if they’ve liked the page.

This is a better way to create pages but it will make converting the FBML to an iFrame more difficult.

You can do some of this with the Facebook JavaScript SDK library  or better yet, since you can control the page content on your own server you can handle it there.

Either way though there will be some work and the easiest way is to use one of the existing products or services; my favorite is Jason Fladlien’s WP-FanPro from http://dahsu.com/WPFanPro, but whatever you use, make sure the product will do what you need it to do or it will be a waste of money.

Complex FBML Pages

You will need to custom create a new iFrame page although some of the products and services like the WP-FanPro may be able to handle your needs, try that first before going the custom page route.

Custom FBML Pages

If you have a completely custom created FBML page you’re going to need to have it rewritten for your iFrame page.

Follow These Steps

Now that you know what’s going on and what solutions you have for the different situations it’s time for you to take some action, just follow these step:

  1. Go to your Facebook Timeline and look at the tabs, if you see any with the little icon I showed you above then they are FBML pages.
  2. For each FBML page, if it’s before July 5, 2012 then immediately reactivate the page.
  3. Look at each page and see which of the above categories they fall into.
  4. Take your most important pages and get them converted using the whichever is the correct solution for the type.
  5. Do the rest of your pages using the appropriate solution.

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