A post Thursday on the Facebook developer blog announced that in a few weeks, the social network will be launching its "Dashboard" for third-party applications built on its platform. Right now, developers are allowed access to a "sandbox" where they can experiment with the new format and see what will be different.
What will the dashboard, part of a newly organized Facebook home page, bring to ordinary users? For the most part, it cleans up the Facebook app experience for users who may have installed dozens of third-party applications, and separates games----into their own tab.
Applications that a user has used recently are grouped at the top, displaying news updates like "It's your move in your Scrabble game against Bill Gates." There's also a grid to show which applications that Facebook member's friends have been interacting with recently, along with suggestions for others that they might like based on what they already use. A set of "counters" in the left-hand sidebar shows members that they have updates and alerts from individual applications.
Developersby Facebook's occasional crackdowns on what apps can and can't do, from e-mail notifications to prominence on members' profiles. But redesigning and cleaning up the app experience so that it's easier for Facebook users to find new apps and get more updates from the ones they already use is likely to be a well-received move.