Facebook gets a new face – developers to unleash new “Timeline” format on users

Facebook has, in development, a new format for it’s users. We got a sneak peek at the new “Timeline” format that Facebook will take in the future.

Gone will be the central column of posts from yourself and others that you like. Gone will be the list of your friends on the left. Even the profile page gets an overhaul to be plugged into the new format.

Facebook plans on revealing an update that will eliminate the “Wall” system and change the basic layout of your Facebook page to that of a giant timeline of your life, beginning with birth, and marked off with major events like school graduations and getting hired for jobs. Scattered on the timeline throughout are comments and posts from your friends list, no more stacked in the center of the page.

Now they appear on either side of the timeline itself, in chronological order as they are published. Scheduled to go live on September 30th, the new timeline beta has gotten generally bad reviews thus far.

[Note: this post was written by Freewaregenius contributor B.C. Tietjens.]

As I examined the new timeline, I found myself torn. The old format is familiar, and therefore comfortable in some ways. The new format does offer some advantages over the old, given that it will automatically be based chronologically, as opposed to the current format which requires a specific option be selected to see posts in their most recent order. It appears that the timeline will not, however, replace the current normal layout until the user opts in to it, at which point it will supersede the old layout. Once the timeline goes live on the 30th, everyone will be able to see your timeline.

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I will say that while I was initially skeptical regarding the new layout, most of my concerns were put to rest by the peek I got. Users will still be able to add or remove posts of people they want to see or hide, and will still have the same profile information appearing on their page, just shown in a different way, interrupted by life events and milestones. It makes filling out an initial profile less daunting and generally less of a ‘empty box overload’ for those who haven’t filled out a profile before. Users will also be able to add milestones or events to their own timeline retroactively or as new events where they will be recorded and appear on the timeline. It’s almost like a digital scrapbook. On the con side of the new format is that many of the options and procedures that were a click away before now require numerous extra clicks, such as editing your photos so they look right, or inserting an event on the timeline. The interface only allows you to click through a month at a time, not a year, so getting back a couple of years requires more than 24 clicks to get there. Carpal tunnel, here I come.

There have been rumors of a new photo editor for Facebook coming out at the same time, but they have been so far unsubstantiated. Overall, the new timeline feature looks to be just like any other new format for a familiar site or service. It’s got good points and bad points, and ultimately some will like it while others will declare it’s the worst thing to happen to Facebook since Kip Drordy. We’ll just have to wait to see what tweaks that the Facebook developers put on it after it’s released from beta. “With the new apps, none of the new functionality is going to be added until you choose you want to add the reading app or the cooking app or the running app,” said Zuckerburg, said Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. “Everyone’s going to have complete control of how they’re [using it]. With Timeline, we’re working on smoothing out the rough edges.” Chief technical officer Bret Taylor said, “This is a really big step forward.” Well, that may be so, Bret, but we still don’t see an iPad app on the horizon. “I think it’s going to be something that we’re going to want to do,” Zuckerberg told reporters. “But right now a lot of people have a great experience just using the web on it. I mean one of the best parts of the iPad is that it has a beautiful web browser.”

The bottom line, for me anyway, after seeing the new timeline, is that I had better get used to it, since Facebook will, eventually,  force everyone to opt into it in favor of the current “Wall” system.

{Oct 4th 2011 Edit:  Facebook has now said they will take time, may be a couple of weeks, to roll out the new Timeline to absolutely everyone. But, they have said that they will make it available “soon” to “users who have signed up for early access”. Just go to Facebook Timeline Page and click on ‘Sign me up’ at the bottom right of the screen.}

Until next time, my friends!


 
 
 
B.C. Tietjens

B.C. Tietjens

Born and raised overseas in a military family, B.C. Tietjens visited and lived in many places all over the world. He has worked on a number of publications and enjoys writing for different audiences, on such diverse subjects as relationships, technology, prestidigitation, self-improvement, entertaining children, and biographical stories. He currently writes primarily for Freewaregenius and enjoys the heck out of it.
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  • Morely Dotes

    It’s not worse; it’s not better. It’s different. And that will make the people who fear change treble in their boots, and the believers in “change is good” joyous.

  • Jennifer Faz

    I really like the new profile. The only problem is that when I went to publish it to everyone, it didn’t work and now I have no idea how to get it to publish. Do you know?