Facebook introduced a way for developers to retrieve users’ profile pictures for use within their applications in different sizes, rather than resizing and scaling them into a standard space.

The social network explained the details in a post on its developer blog:

In many cases, when displaying Facebook profile pictures, the image needs to fit into a specifically allotted space within the user interface. Resizing and scaling the image can be a cumbersome process, often resulting in suboptimal image quality.

This week, we released updates to our application-programming interfaces to allow you to retrieve users’ profile pictures in varying sizes. Alternate profile picture sizes can be queried via the graph API and FQL.

To retrieve a profile picture in an alternate size via the graph API, add the optional width and height fields as URL parameters:

https://graph.facebook.com/1207059/picture?width=121&height=100

This will return a HTTP 302 redirect to a profile picture with a minimum size of 121×100 while trying to preserve the aspect ratio. You can add the URL parameter redirect=false to retrieve just the URL to the picture. If width=height, then a square picture will always be returned.

You can also query for profile pictures of varying size using FQL:

  • SELECT url, real_width, real_height
  • FROM profile_pic
  • WHERE id=me()
  • AND width=121
  • AND height=100
  • (try this query)

Please see documentation for the graph API user and page objects, and the profile pic, for more information.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.