Twitter Changes their API Game

Friday, August 17th, 2012 | Business | by

TwitterYesterday, Michael Sippey (@sippey) at Twitter posted an announcement detailing the Changes coming in Version 1.1 of the Twitter API.

In his post, he covered the changes to authentication, rate limitations, changes to the “Rules of the Road”, and reviews why Twitter is making these changes.

All web developers should know what’s going on.  As soon as Twitter’s API version 1.1 comes out we will have 6 months to address the modifications introduced.

After the facts I’ll post my “response” below.

Twitter Authentication

Twitter API will now require OAuth (not sure if this is smart as a key member of OAuth has recently left his post, with disagreements regarding OAuth 2)when making API calls.  This has been optional until now.  If you area already using OAth, then you are safe (existing OAuth will continue to work).

According to the article, if you’re not using OAuth, you should plan to change that by March 2013.

API Rate Limitations

Depending on the method in which you use Twitter APIs you may run into rate limitations.  It sounds as if only those of us who are building software based on Twitter (with a fairly wide user base) should worry about this.

Current authenticated API requests are limited to 350 per hour, across the board.  Twitter will be moving to a “per endpoint” rate limit.

The post says most endpoints will be stuck with 60 calls every hour, per endpoint.  The web development that I’ve done shouldn’t have a problem with this.  There should be no reason not to cache Twitter information (especially since the APIs aren’t that stable nowadays).

Some of the more used endpoints will get an upper limit of 720 calls per hour.

Changes to the Rules

Twitter had always had some recommendations for integrating with their service.  These are now requirements.  They’re basic, but twitter is trying to flex their muscles.

Basically, you need to implement all of the Twitter interfaces regarding tweets (link @ name, allow reply / retweet, etc).

It’s nothing obnoxious like including the branded colors or anything, but it’s a rule being forced on developers (who usually don’t like that sort of thing).

Basically any major application leveraging twitter will be required to work directly with Twitter from here on out.

My Response

Twitter, like any large organization, is worried about their brand.  They also need to start developing a working business model that affords them the revenue that they are due.

To be fair, Twitter is a big part of the internet, and so far hasn’t been making a significant amount of money from their service.  They’re not as big as Facebook, but I think their service is likely to outlive Facebook and become a more integral part of the overall internet.

Will these changes turn off developers?  Absolutely.  I know there are at least 3 projects I have in the works which will now stall and/or change because of this announcement.  It’s dangerous to work with any company who is closing up access.

I predict that Twitter will choke off their “large” endpoints and provide licensing fees to get the level of access some applications require.  This will ensure best practices integrations with Twitter, and will also allow Twitter to share in the money being made by these third party products and services.

What do you think?

UPDATES

9:11 am – Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, has an in depth analysis of some Twitter API changes to be worried about.

9:13 am – Brooksreview.net has another sour review of the changes (to say the least) title, Twitter Bullshit (he has since changed it to Twitter’s API Changes, check the slug)

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