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The future of Buck

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When Buck was unveiled at Facebook Mobile DevCon in 2013, it was a fast Android build system. Since then, it’s expanded to support building applications written in 15+ languages and targeting platforms from mobile phones to servers to smart devices to VR headsets and more.

Since that time, many users have found Buck to be a very powerful, fast build system that vastly improves their developer experience. We continue to innovate in approaches to scaling builds, like our work with Android app compilations. The community has shared many stories on how they’ve accelerated their own development by using Buck, for example at Droidcon NYC 2016 and Devoxx Belgium 2017.

Over time, though, Buck has not kept up with this growth in features and flexibility with the necessary architectural changes and improvements to manage this complexity. As we develop new features, both inside and outside Facebook, we’ve found that this has led to significant implementation complexity and it is increasingly challenging to make changes to the core and the language rules. While we started an initiative nearly 4 years ago to incrementally make some of these cross-cutting architectural improvements to Buck, those changes have been extremely difficult.

Shifting focus to our next-gen build system

Since early 2020, we have been experimenting with what it would look like if we were to redesign the build system from scratch. Taking the lessons we have learned over the last 7 years, how could we write a build system that would continue to scale and be extensible for the next 10 or 20 years?

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There is plenty that we think Buck got just right, and the next generation will be keeping many of the core concepts. For many languages and workflows, the new system will be completely backward compatible. Build files will continue to be written in the Starlark language (using the Rust starlark interpreter we’ve previously written about). The rules (cxx_library, etc) are the same and have mostly the same behavior. The high-level concepts like rules, targets, actions, all carry over.

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As for the big changes, our next-gen build system is built on a single incremental computation framework. This provides fine-grained tracking of computation dependencies and very high performance for incremental computations. It is heavily inspired by research like Adapton and implementations like Salsa, Skip and the Shake build system.

The limited extensibility of Buck v1 has been a recurring source of pain for our community. With this new build system, we’ve focused on extensibility as a primary goal and every build rule is written outside of the core build language as a user-defined rule.

While considering this re-write, we took the opportunity to experiment and validate Rust as the tech stack for the build system. Facebook is increasingly investing in the Rust programming language and many projects have been using it with great success. We’ve found the language to be a great fit for many reasons, including:

  • Rust’s async/await syntax makes writing asynchronous code really smooth and Rust helps get the complex concurrency details correct. Each migration of Buck’s Java computations to a concurrent computation was a months-long, difficult transition and there are still significant single-threaded bottlenecks there.
  • Rust has a lot of high-level language features that make development easier and more enjoyable. These are things like enums, pattern matching, traits, procedural macros and all the other features that contribute to Rust developers in general loving it so much.
  • Rust gives greater control over memory allocations. Garbage collecting languages (even with generational collection) have challenges dealing with incremental computations like Buck performs.
  • Rust is high performance. We’ve seen significant speedups from the translation of things into Rust.
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Sharing the next-gen build system with the community

We are committed to sharing this new work and project with the community. The process to prepare that has not yet been completed, but we have released part of it with the Rust Starlark library, and we are planning to release other components as reusable libraries like our core incremental computation engine and our “Super Console” textui framework, soon.

So, over the next several months you may see less progress on Buck, but rest assured we are continuing to work on providing the best build system to the community. We recognize that an important part of the sharing process will be in defining a smooth transition for users of Buck and ensuring that the community can move forward with us. We are planning to have this publicly available by January 2022 and will have more details about transitioning for current Buck users then.

What does this mean for Buck users?

For now, not much changes from the current state. Early last year we announced that active development of Buck was moving off of the stable main branch. We will continue to support and maintain the stable branch, and the plan is for that to continue at least one year after the public release of the new system. For most users, the transition should be seamless and we’ll provide support and tooling for more complex cases.

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Some may have noticed that even on Buck’s dev branch, development has been slowing and that will continue to slow as we focus more on the new build system. As before, use of the dev branch in production is discouraged and will have less support than the stable branch.

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We anticipate having more to discuss about this next-gen build system later this year. You can always follow our work at Facebook’s Open Source blog and our github repositories.

To learn more about Facebook Open Source, visit our open source site, subscribe to our YouTube channel, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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Facebook Owner Meta Launches New Platform, Safety Hub to Protect Women in India

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Meta (formerly Facebook) on Thursday announced a slew of steps to protect woman users on its platform, including the launch of StopNCII.org in India that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

Meta has also launched the Women’s Safety Hub, which will be available in Hindi and 11 other Indian languages, that will enable more women users in India to access information about tools and resources that can help them make the most of their social media experience, while staying safe online.

This initiative by Meta will ensure women do not face a language barrier in accessing information Karuna Nain, director (global safety policy) at Meta Platforms, told reporters here.

“Safety is an integral part of Meta’s commitment to building and offering a safe online experience across the platforms and over the years the company has introduced several industry leading initiatives to protect users online.

“Furthering our effort to bolster the safety of users, we are bringing in a number of initiatives to ensure online safety of women on our platforms,” she added.

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StopNCII.org is a platform that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

“It gives victims control. People can come to this platform proactively, hash their intimate videos and images, share their hashes back with the platform and participating companies,” Nain said.

She explained that the platform doesn’t receive any photos and videos, and instead what they get is the hash or unique digital fingerprint/unique identifier that tells the company that this is a known piece of content that is violating. “We can proactively keep a lookout for that content on our platforms and once it”s uploaded, our review team check what”s really going on and take appropriate action if it violates our policies,” she added.

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In partnership with UK Revenge Porn Helpline, StopNCII.org builds on Meta’s NCII Pilot, an emergency programme that allows potential victims to proactively hash their intimate images so they can”t be proliferated on its platforms.

The first-of-its-kind platform, has partnered with global organisations to support the victims of NCII. In India, the platform has partnered with organisations such as Social Media Matters, Centre for Social Research, and Red Dot Foundation.

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Nain added that the company is hopeful that this becomes an industrywide initiative, so that victims can just come to this one central place to get help and support and not have to go to each and every tech platform, one by one to get help and support.

Also, Bishakha Datta (executive editor of Point of View) and Jyoti Vadehra from Centre for Social Research are the first Indian members in Meta”s Global Women”s Safety Expert Advisors. The group comprises 12 other non-profit leaders, activists, and academic experts from different parts of the world and consults Meta in the development of new policies, products and programmes to better support women on its apps.

“We are confident that with our ever-growing safety measures, women will be able to enjoy a social experience which will enable them to learn, engage and grow without any challenges.

“India is an important market for us and bringing Bishakha and Jyoti onboard to our Women”s Safety Expert Advisory Group will go a long way in further enhancing our efforts to make our platforms safer for women in India,” Nain said.

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Facebook Adds New Trend Insights in Creator Studio, Which Could Help Shape Your Posting Strategy

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Facebook’s looking to provide more content insight within Creator Studio with the rollout of a new ‘Inspiration Hub’ element, which highlights trending content and hashtags within categories related to your business Page.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when it becomes available to you, you’ll be able to access the new Inspiration Hub from the Home tab in Creator Studio.

At the right side of the screen, you can see the first of the new insights, with trending hashtags and videos from the last 24 hours, posted by Pages similar to yours, displayed above a ‘See more’ prompt.

When you tap through to the new hub, you’ll have a range of additional filters to check out trending content from across Facebook, including Page category, content type, region, and more.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

That could be hugely valuable in learning what Facebook users are responding to, and what people within your target market are engaging with in the app.

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The Hub also includes insights into trending hashtags, within your chosen timeframe, which may further assist in tapping into trending discussions.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

How valuable hashtags are on Facebook is still up for debate, but you’ll also note that you can filter the displayed results by platform, so you can additionally display Instagram hashtag trends as well, which could be very valuable in maximizing your reach.

Much of this type of info has been available within CrowdTangle, Facebook’s analytics platform for journalists, for some time, but not everyone can access CrowdTangle data, which could make this an even more valuable proposition for many marketers.

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Of course, overall performance really relates to your own creative, and thinking through the action that you want your audience to take when reading your posts. But in terms of detecting new content trends, including hashtag usage, caption length, videos versus image posts, and more, there’s a lot that could be gleaned from these tools and filters.

It’s a significant analytics addition – we’ve asked Facebook for more info on the rollout of the new option, and whether it’s already beyond test mode, etc. We’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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