Facebook encourages its developers to work on side projects throughout the year. Some of those projects end up being cool ideas that manage to be integrated into the Facebook platform proper. Others are just awesome ideas that must be seen to be believed. The social network dubs these projects "hacks" and is now sharing the best hacks of 2012.
Many of the hacks from 2012 actually made their way into Facebook proper as features that users have access to everyday. One such hack was a complete accident created by Facebook Engineer Pete Hunt. He was working on new photo viewer builds and accidentally created a full screen version. The Facebook team liked it enough to ship it to every user.
The other major hack that became part of Facebook proper was an Events calendar that kept track of all upcoming events. The calendar was created by Bob Baldwin and a few other members of the team and integrates posts, photos and videos. It shipped out to users in July.
Moving onto more of the extraordinary hacks, some Facebook team members painted a giant QR code that could be seen from space on the roof of one of the campus buildings. The code used to direct users to a job listing page for QR code painters, but now it goes to a page on how the code was created.
The last project that deserves specific mention involves an old friend - 3D printers. Benjie Holson, an engineer on the Timeline team, created a model of the world with spikes relative to how many people use Facebook in that area. The result is a neat 3D printed model that would look great on any modern artist's portfolio.
Facebook will be holding a number of hackathons next year, and some of the projects will undoubtedly make their way into Facebook proper. It will be interesting to see Facebook and its hacking scene evolve through 2013.