What Is Facebook Timeline? (Only Your Whole Life)
After yesterday’s Facebook revamp, Mark Zuckerberg still had a few new features to reveal at today’s f8 conference. The most important? Timeline, a complete reconceptualization of your profile page.
What is facebook timeline
Timeline is a new way of presenting yourself on Facebook…
Gone is the single column wall of posts you’re used to for profile updates. Gone are the neatly divided panels of every Facebook profile page that existed up until now. Gone is the struggle to figure out what someone you’ve met only recently was like a few years ago. Gone is the static feeling that all your past updates have.
In your old profile’s place is a page that gives over much of its real estate to updates presented down the page as a dual-columned array of tiles that contains status updates, links, photos, media and a whole lot more. And oh yeah, you can plaster a giant-ass panoramic image across the top of your profile.
…that dives deep into your past…
The Facebook wall has always been structured chronologically, but has become less and less favorable to browsing posts and updates from more than a few months ago. In timeline, that all changes. There is now a literal timeline embedded on your profile that will let anyone viewing it click back to any year where there are updates or content and view them. As someone goes back further in time on your profile, fewer updates appear; eventually, only major events and ones that you’ve specifically picked for inclusion are highlighted. But fear not, you can also remove any particularly embarrassing updates from your timeline.
…but also makes your history dynamic…
Was there a major event from your past that you didn’t care to talk about then, but wish people knew about now? Timeline will allow you to go and create new events or add new photos for things that happened years back. Zuck and Co. want Facebook to be less of a time capsule and more of a curated biography. But it’s not just about changing the past; Timeline is all about highlighting recurring themes and patterns and connections with other people in your life, thanks to Facebook’s Open Graph app framework.
…while giving apps a new lease on life…
Zuckerberg admitted that their first attempt at giving users freedom with apps was kind of a failed experiment. In the days of Facebook modules, people could create heavy, bloated pages full of nonsense. Facebook eventually took that functionality away, banishing apps to the homepage sidebar. But now they’re bringing ‘em back. Operating in an app sandbox and making use of Facebook’s Open Graph framework, users can share updates, media and interactive features from the apps, which appear seamlessly alongside all other updates and posts. And it delivers information with context. It shows the songs you’ve listened to most in the last month, meals you’ve cooked in the last week, or your favorite books over the past year.
…and works just as well on mobile as it does the desktop.
Despite the slick look of the new UI, it wasn’t designed solely for the traditional browser. It works just as well on mobile devices, shapeshifting to fit the new screen size. Is this their rumored HTML5 site at work? Perhaps, although Facebook hasn’t officially said yet. What we do know is that Facebook isn’t scared to experiment with notions of what their site is, and what it can be.
Fortunately, enabling Timeline a bit early isn’t too difficult — but it’s not at all straight forward, either.
You see, Facebook is enabling Timeline early for open graph developers. You, too, can be an open graph developer — even if you’re just looking to dabble.
A few things to note:
- You probably don’t want to do this unless you’re actually a developer. Expect bugs.
- Only you will see your timeline at first (unless you decide otherwise), but it will automatically go public after a few days. My timeline was automatically hard-set to go public on September 29th.
- It seems that if you login into Facebook on another machine, Timeline gets disabled automatically on all of your machines. With that said, it seems you can get back to your timeline (but ONLY after following the steps below) by navigating to http://www.facebook.com/YOURUSERNAMEHERE?sk=timeline
- You’ll need to have a “verified” account for one of the steps, which means you need a credit card or phone number attached to the account.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Log into Facebook
2. Enable developer mode, if you haven’t already. To do this, type “developer” into the Facebook search box, click the first result (it should be an app made by Facebook with a few hundred thousand users), and add the app.
3. Jump into the developer app (if Facebook doesn’t put you there automatically, it should be in your left-hand tool bar)
4. Create a new app (don’t worry — you wont actually be submitting this for anyone else to see/use). Give your shiny new app any display name and namespace you see fit. Read through and agree to the Platform Privacy agreement. This is the step you need to be verified for.
5. Ensure you’re in your new app’s main settings screen. You should see your app’s name near the top of the page
6. Look for the “Open Graph” header, and click the “Get Started using open graph” link.
Create a test action for your app, like “read” a “book”, or “eat” a “sandwich”
7. This should drop you into an action type configuration page. Change a few of the default settings (I changed the past tense of “read” to “redd” — again, only you can see this unless you try and submit your application to the public directory), and click through all three pages of settings
8. Wait 2-3 minutes
9. Go back to your Facebook homescreen. An invite to try Timeline should be waiting at the top of the page
And you’re done! We’ve seen this work quite a few times now, so it should work without a hitch for just about anyone.