Monthly Archives: November 2011
Social Fixer gives you the ability to separate your Facebook news feed into tabs. By default, it even puts posts by applications in their own tab. But to really get the most out of tabs, you need to write custom Feed Filter Rules and move posts to exactly where you want them. This post will give you an example of how someone might do just that.
Let’s say a person wants to make sense of their Facebook feed by organizing their posts like this:
- Move every post from a family member into a tab called “Family”. Everything they post, even from apps.
- Move posts from the games I actually play to their own tabs by Application Name
- Hide all other application posts
Easy! But first, let’s take a quick look at the options in the “Filtering” tab:
Lets you turn the entire Filter functionality on or off. This is great for testing
Always show all defined tabs (even if no posts are moved there)
lets you maintain a consistent tab interface. If you define 5 tabs in your filters, then this option will cause them to always be shown, in the order defined. Otherwise, tabs are created on-the-fly as needed. When posts match a filter and are moved to a tab, if the tab doesn’t exist already it is created as the last tab.
Filter posts on pages and profiles
When you visit someone’s profile or page, you may not want posts moved to tabs or hidden by rules like you do on your main news feed. If unchecked, posts on pages and profiles will stay where they are.
Custom App list
You can either populate this manually with applications that Social Fixer doesn’t already know about, or it will also get populated automatically when you click the “+” icon in an application post to move it to a tab.
The real magic starts happening below, in the feed filter section. This is where we will define our filters that move posts to tabs.
Filter #1: Move Family to Tab
Here I have selected my family members from the list of friends. I selected multiple rows by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking each one. I left “Type” and “Application” unselected, because I want to filter all posts. In “Action” I select “Move to Tab” and type in “Family” for the tab name.
The next check box is important – “Stop processing rules”. This means that when a post matches this filter, I want to move it to the tab and then STOP! I don’t want the post to then be evaluated in the next rule, which might move it somewhere else. Each post is processed by each filter, one after the other, even if a filter matches the post. This lets you apply multiple rules in a cascading fashion. But our next rule is going to move game posts to their own tab, and I don’t want my family’s game posts to move there, so I need to check “Stop processing rules”.
Filter #2: Move Game Posts To Tabs
Here I have selected some of the games I play, and again selected “Move to Tab”. But for tab name I use the special tag: <app_name>. This makes a tab that has the name of the application itself. So rather than making a separate filter for each application and putting in each name, I can create a single filter and they will each be moved to a tab with their own name.
Again I choose to “Stop processing rules” so that these application posts don’t then get hidden by the next rule.
Note: When selecting applications, the “Type” select list gets hidden, because it doesn’t make sense to select a type and an application.
Filter #3: Hide Posts by Applications
Our final filter is simple. We want to hide all other posts by any application. So we select that type from the list (which hides the application list because it wouldn’t make sense to then choose a specific application), then we click the “Hide” action. All posts by applications will now be hidden from the feed. Except, of course, the applications used by my Family, or the games that I play because those have already been filtered and not hidden.
Now when I view my news feed, my posts are nicely separated into tabs that I can read more easily. I can catch up with my Family, then read everyone else’s posts, then take a look at my Games. Everything is combined together into one huge feed anymore. Ah, much better!
I hope this gives you some ideas about how to use tabs and filters to take better control over your Facebook feed!
- New Option: "Force the news feed to switch to "Recent Stories First" if available". Facebook recently re-introduced the option to sort the news feed into Most Recent posts first (chronological), but not every user sees it yet. For those that do, choosing Most Recent doesn't always "stick", forcing them to switch it back frequently. This option (enabled by default) forces the feed to Most Recent whenever Social Fixer detects that you are not using it.
- Restored the option to lock the header, for those users who need it. Under "Popular": "Lock the blue header bar at the top even if the screen is small".
- New option under Chat tab: "Hide "mobile" users from the chat list". Previously, mobile users were always hidden.
- Active chat users will now always be shown at the top of the list, and mobile users at the bottom (if they are shown).
- Added more story types to the filter selection criteria, for posts having to do with Groups.
- Social Fixer is now disabled on apps.facebook.com by default. The option to disable while playing games has been changed to an option to enable it, and it is off by default.
- Added text to the alert that appears after saving changes to options, to direct users to the preference to disable the alert.
- Removed some apps from the auto-tabbing list, because they weren't real "apps".
- Applications were not automatically tabbed for some users because of a Facebook code change.
- When some users clicked 'More Stories' at the bottom of their feed, nothing would happen.
- "Pagelet" boxes added by SFX were sometimes showing web server errors when the SocialFixer.com web site was too busy.
- Options dialog didn't fit on the smaller screens of some computers. It now dynamically sizes itself to fit.
- Social Fixer was running and showing the Wizard even on the login page.
- When using the option to "show all users in chat", some users had a small blank chat window pop up when they click on a friend's name.
- When using the "popup window" list of friends on chat, and if you only had a few friends on chat, the window would seem to hover above the bottom of the page.
Facebook has finally restored the ability to view your news feed in simple chronological order, with the newest posts first. However, this option is slowly rolling out and isn't available to everyone yet.
Recently, Facebook introduced the idea of "Top Posts" and defaulted to showing users the posts they thought would most interest them at the top of the feed. Apparently the back-lash was strong enough that Facebook listened and restores users' ability to view their feed in the more reasonable order.
If you don't already, you will soon see the Sort dropdown at the top of your news feed:
This is a new option from Facebook itself, not something added by Social Fixer. Simply selecting "Recent Stories First" will restore your chronological news feed. And possibly your sanity.
When you choose this option, you should also change the Social Fixer preferences to turn off its option to put the news feed in chronological order:
This change should make lots of users happy. It seems that I often "fix" problems like this that Facebook forces on its users, only to have them change code later and make my fix unnecessary. This is fine by me – I'd like to think that Social Fixer gives Facebook a little window into the options that its users would like to have, and if they build them into the site itself, then that's even better for everyone!
Social Fixer 6.0 is the first release of the application under the new name and branding. It includes some fixes and changes.
Changes from Better Facebook
- All Options and messages can now be accessed under the "wrench" icon in the blue header bar at the top of the screen. If errors or messages are available, you will see a red badge with the count.
- Notification previews have been disabled because a Facebook changed broke them and I haven't had time to find a work-around.
- The "Friend Activity" panel has been removed because Facebook removed the source of data. I will look for another way to get the information.
- When using your mouse wheel to scroll inside of the "ticker" preview windows, the whole page would sometimes scroll when you reached the top or bottom. Social Fixer now prevents this annoying default behavior.
- A new Options interface, including the ability to search for options across all tabs
- Problems with Friend Tracker, Filter lists of users/pages, and the Pages/Events/Groups boxes in the left column have been fixed.
- Updated some code to fix incompatibility issues with the latest version of Greasemonkey.
- When hovering over ticker stories, the preview would close when moving your mouse over to it, preventing you from scrolling down to all the comments
- More robust detection of unique post ID's, so posts that are marked read stay marked red.
- When using Facebook in secure (https) mode, some browsers would report insecure content because of images and files referenced from the SocialFixer.com site. These references now use https to maintain the secure connection.
- A number of other fixes and tweaks to make functionality more solid and consistent.
Many of you are probably former users of Better Facebook, the most popular extension for Facebook on the web. If you're wondering why there has been a name change, see this post I made recently. Basically, Facebook didn't like the use of their name in my application or domain, so they required that I change it. Although it took a lot of work, I think the result is an even better application and an even better brand.
If you are updating from Better Facebook, please note: You must uninstall Better Facebook for Social Fixer to work correctly! If you are not sure how to uninstall extensions, some help can be found in the FAQ: How to Uninstall.
Unfortunately, since Facebook recently made changes that disabled Better Facebook for users, there is no ability to transfer settings and options to Social Fixer. You will need to setup your options again and mark posts as read for scratch. Luckily, this is fairly simple and painless.
Since the Better Facebook name was well known, it's going to take a while to get the name Social Fixer out on the web, in blogs, and in peoples' minds.
I would appreciate it if you would share the link to http://SocialFixer.com to your friends, and/or "Like" the home page. The previous site had over 100,000 Likes, which added to its credibility and made people feel comfortable installing it. I'd like to get there again!
Thank to you everyone for being patient during this long transition. I have spent many hours working late at night fixing problems caused by Facebook code changes, creating new logos, changing web site text, and re-branding the app. I hope it's resulted in a great app that will be even more useful and popular.
There will definitely be some glitches and bugs which will only be found after thousands of people start using the app. Expect a few patch releases to get this thing stable again!
Finally, remember – this is a free product written and maintained by me – just one guy. All my time and hosting expenses are offset by donations only. If you would care to "tip" me a few bucks like you would a waiter in a restaurant, I sure appreciate it
-- Matt Kruse