Twitter: Now With More Impending Doom

By Andrew James , written on August 17, 2012

From The News Desk

Twitter’s latest API update has shown one thing – for a communications company, Twitter doesn’t know how to speak to its users. The changes should be relatively trivial to the average daily user, but they've been interpreted as an all out poisoning of its developer ecosystem. But are developers really worried?

For the most part, it seems the users are more outraged. Plus, the fact that so long after Michael Sippey posted the updates to the dev blog (the one that enraged the Internet), there still no messages on its user blog soothing the frantic response that saw words like "limiting," "authentication," and "Requirements." Those terms alone seem to have spawned posts about app dev revolts, surveys on the state of Twitter, and angry Tweets aimed at Sippey – and users threatening the impossible (jumping ship for Google Plus).

So to those actively in the midst of a conniption, please relax. Signs of Twitter's impending doom are not upon us yet.

We reached out to Paul Haddad from Tweetbot, one of the apps in the bad quadrant, to find out what the changes would mean to his company. “In the short term, nothing. From an API standpoint the changes required for v1.1 are trivial,” says Haddad. “Long term, we shouldn't be in any risk of running out of spots under Twitter's cap anytime soon.” Bone-chilling.

The new call limits – yes, it sounds confining and not free – is actually an improvement for most on the previous limits. Unfortunately for the fear-stricken, "60 calls per hour per endpoint" sounds significantly less than "350 API requests per hour."

As Anil Dash states in his post, which outlines what Twitter could – or should – have said, "Endpoints that are really in demand, like Tweet display, profile display, user lookup, and user search, go all the way up to 720 calls per hour."

If anything, the entire environment was so charged for Twitter to announce an API change that announcing the purchase of a new puppy would have been met with loathing. But such a blunt release by Snippey, who made the misfortune of seemingly saying "Storify bad, Klout good," sounded treacherous.

Twitter later corrected their stance on Storify. Twitter changing the Rules of the Road for developers isn’t a drastic difference either. If anything, laying down solid structure to offer a better user and developer experience across the platform ensures more consistency for everyone.

The biggest problem here is that the wording was entirely too vague. As for OAuth, sure a few applications that haven’t been updated will drop off next year. But that won’t affect the average user, or companies actively using the service to build out their business. Asking API users to authenticate their programs isn't much more than a minor update with some testing that most APIs have been doing for years.

So really the worst thing to come out of the update is that Snippey's post was read by everyone. (Who knew users could access the dev blog?) As TechLand postedthis morning:

It’s highly technical, which is what you’d expect given that it’s on Twitter’s developers blog. But developers aren’t Twitter’s only constituency. Another one is Twitter users — and for them, there’s nothing the least bit clarifying in the post.
For future use, and as a general rule, if your service update requires a matrix, you've probably done a shitty job explaining. Expect a storm of pitchfork-wielding users and bloggers.