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Weaning an app off of facebook

moving away from FBML

4:10 pm on Dec 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I have a reasonably successful FB app. It's not farmville or scrabulous, but it does get a more-than-moderate amount of social traffic.

Conjoined with the popular FB app is a not-as-popular public version on the www.

You know what I'm getting tired of? Changes to FB's API. Every few months, my app breaks, I get hate mail from my users, and I need to go in and perform emergency surgery on the code. Yes yes facebook has their developer wiki/news and they have started to announce things in advance, but come on. I built this thing two years ago, it works, I've fixed it a dozen times already, so leave it the heck alone.

What I would really like is for more people to stop using the FBML version, and switch over to the public one.

So here's my strategy:
1) publicize the public site prominently on the FB app's canvas pages
2) offer increased functionality on the www version, neato features that are not available in the FBML one
3) make it easy for FB-authenticated users to switch over to the www one, still authenticated. Hook it up to FB Connect.

Some roadblocks:
1) FB is the primary way that strangers discover my app. Honestly there is nearly zero chance of ranking in the SERPs with this thing.
2) As mentioned, the FBML version breaks every few months.

8:08 am on Dec 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I know it might take you some time but have you thought about removing the fbml and just using standard code? I know it might take some time to migrate fbml to standard html at first, but it also might remove the FB "look" from it and encourage more people to visit your url? It might also help with upgrades, though I don't know how deeply "nested" into facebook the app is.

How easy would it be to add extra features to the url and keep it separate from the app? This could encourage more sign up to your site?

As I'm sure you're aware without knowing what your app is, it's hard to offer any other "tailored" suggestions, but permission permitting, why don't you email your users with information about the public version?

I'm by know means a marketing whizz, but I am interested in FB app development. If you pop me a pm I wouldn't mind taking a look at the app.