Facebook developers are reporting 20-50% drops in their Application traffic due to an unannounced deprecation of the old apps.new.facebook.com URL by Facebook. Over the weekend, Facebook appears to have deprecated the apps.new.facebook.com domain, but some developers are reporting that users aren’t recognizing the new domain, apps.facebook.com, causing the drop in traffic.
The apps.facebook.com domain is the central location for all applications on Facebook. Developers are given a unique suffix to the apps.facebook.com domain, giving apps.facebook.com/appname a unique location for every application on the Facebook platform. Facebook created the domain, apps.new.facebook.com to accommodate apps trying to test in the new design as it was in the process of being released. Now that all users should be transitioned to the new design, it appears that Facebook has decided that the two URLs are no longer necessary.
Facebook (perhaps not as often as Twitter) is known for changes like this. While it’s been awhile, the early days of the Facebook Platform were prone to frequent changes by Facebook with little notification by the company. For this reason, Facebook implemented a beta testing ground before pushing changes so bugs like this would be revealed, but it appears Facebook is not using this testing ground in all cases. As one developer put it, “I was planning to go on a sailing trip today, but when I noticed all the problems had to cancel that to fix all the absolute urls I had.” Unannounced changes like this, with little testing, are bound to cause developer frustration and angst as we’re seeing now.
Facebook has put in place a Status Feed to announce such things, and just last week announced that over the weekend the new “api.new.facebook.com” would point to the same place as “api.facebook.com”. Being a backend process, Facebook mentioned nothing about a deprecation of the apps.new.facebook.com domain. Also, any user that previously had an apps.new.facebook.com domain bookmarked will now be sent to a 404 not found page.
We have yet to hear an announcement by Facebook on this matter.
UPDATE: For some reason the link to the forums above has been removed and the post is gone. The text of the main link is below (written by crimson), followed by a long list of other developers seeing the same thing:
I’ve been doing some testing with the recent DNS errors and it seems that for most users, apps.new.facebook is broken. It’s sporadic though, and only affects certain user accounts at random times. I haven’t heard any complaints about apps.facebook.com being broken though, so I would suggest putting a message on your about pages asking users to go to apps.facebook.com instead of apps.new.facebook.com. If you have any absolute links to apps.new especially in notifications, newsfeeds, or notifications, you should also get rid of those immediately since it will cause your users to end up on the new domain, which will rewrite all urls from apps.facebook.com to apps.new.facebook.com, and can lead to further problems.
It’s so annoying that Facebook decided to do this over the weekend, which means we have to work also on the weekends. I was planning to go on a sailing trip today, but when I noticed all the problems had to cancel that to fix all the absolute urls I had. I found I’m losing anywhere from 20-50% of new users simply because of this issue. It also seems that at times only apps.new.facebook is broken, and not www.new.facebook. Hmm, talk about double-standards.
UPDATE 2: Facebook appears to have fixed the problem – when I checked today, apps.new.facebook.com was again correctly redirecting to apps.facebook.com
UPDATE 3: It appears other developers are still seeing the issue, still no word from Facebook: http://staynalive.com/articles/2008/10/06/facebook-dns-blunders-take-down-obama-app/