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New metrics, user controls for Facebook's platform

Now, members will "log in" rather than "install" applications, according to a post on the social network's developer blog. Application owners will also have new analytics about activity.

Facebook has made a number of changes to the behind-the-scenes workings of its developer platform, according to a blog post Monday by engineer Pete Bratach.

For the most part, the updates are geared toward two things: letting users keep tabs on spammy apps, and giving developers and app creators more insight into the people who are using their products.

This is a much bigger deal for the people creating and operating Facebook applications than for average users, but members will notice a few differences. Rather than "adding" applications, Facebook users will "log in" to them and will have an option to "remain logged in." It's the social network's answer to users who want a "try before you buy" option. Once they've logged in, they can opt to put the applications in their profiles. They'll also be able to choose from the get-go whether they want the application to send them e-mail notifications.

Even though Facebook says it will likely make users less hesitant to play with applications they aren't sure they'll want to keep around, it's bound to irritate a few developers who will say it makes it tougher for them to "go viral" and get the word out about their applications. Users, however, will likely appreciate the fact that they'll have fewer unwanted e-mails and undesirable applications cluttering their online lives.

On the flip side, developers get a few new perks. Bratach's post also announced that Facebook will be releasing new analytics for application owners so that they can know more about who's installing and using their code. They will find out many people have used an app in the past week, how many people have "bookmarked" the app or subscribed to e-mail notifications, and how many times the home (or "canvas") page for the application has been viewed.

Also down the road for Facebook: open-source code on the platform, and redesigned profile pages. The social network, which started the developer platform craze shortly over a year ago, has to keep both users and developers pleased; its team has a tough rival in OpenSocial, which is backed by the likes of Google, MySpace, and Yahoo.