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Facebook Connect branches out

Aiming to make its universal-log-in product more ubiquitous, company announces a three-step integration wizard and a translation tool to automatically convert a site to a Facebook user's native language.

Facebook made a dual set of announcements this week pertaining to Facebook Connect, the universal-log-in product that it offers to third-party developers and Web sites. Both are aimed at making Connect more ubiquitous: first, a tool called "Translations for Facebook Connect" that simplifies the process of translating the product into international languages, and second, the "Facebook Connect Wizard" for incorporating the product into a site with little developer expertise required.

Facebook first announced that Connect would be available in a multilingual format this summer. Now, the tool can be used to translate any site into the language of a given user who's logged in with Connect.

Last we heard, about 15,000 sites had implemented Facebook Connect, a product that statistics firm Hitwise says gave the social network enough momentum to propel it past once-bigger rival MySpace in terms of U.S. traffic. Launching international translations of the main Facebook site--which the company ended up "crowdsourcing" to users starting early last year--is largely credited with kickstarting the social network's growth overseas.

Facebook now has over 300 million active users around the world, a sizable majority of which are outside the U.S.

Plugging in Facebook Connect information with the three-step 'wizard.' Facebook

"Establishing a presence on the social Web requires fundamental building blocks," a post by Facebook employee Alex Himel explained as it announced the Facebook Connect Wizard. "Facebook provides these essential tools, including identity for a great registration system, and immediate access to 300 million active global users. Facebook Connect gives entrepreneurs of all sizes--and with varying developer resources--the ability to build traffic efficiently through reaching a relevant audience, while offering an engaging user experience."

The new Connect Wizard takes only three steps, Himel's post said.