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Not All Developers Hate Twitter’s New API Rules
The dust is still settling on yesterday’s news that Twitter is prepping a new API for release in the near future. And while many developers immediately slammed Twitter’s new rules, not everyone is angry about the changes.
Aaron Gotwalt, who co-founded the now-defunct CoTweet, said on Twitter this morning that he thinks the new API rules are friendly toward developers.
As a guy who built a successful startup on the Twitter platform, I’m pleasantly surprised at how developer-friendly the 1.1 rules are.
— Aaron Gotwalt (@gotwalt) August 17, 2012
If you’re not familiar with it, CoTweet was a tool that helped brands (usually with multiple individuals overseeing multiple accounts) manage their Twitter presence.
James Peter, co-founder of 89n — the company behind ManageFlitter, a Twitter account management tool that has more than a million users — said today that his company thinks Twitter’s changes are “pretty good.”
The most useful API endpoints (Tweet display, profile display, user lookup and user search) will be dramatically increased to 720 calls per endpoint, per user, per hour. This will enable exciting new uses of the API – currently the limits are 350 calls per user per hour across all endpoints. In particular this change will significantly increase the amount of social graph data a single application can access about a user in a timely fashion.
Peter goes on to say that Twitter’s announcement “gives us increased security, understanding and a better platform to continue investing in Twitter’s API.”
In our post yesterday about the new API rules, I mentioned a quick reaction on Twitter from Paul Haddad, creator of the popular (and excellent) Twitter client, Tweetbot. Haddad expanded on his “don’t panic” message in a blog post today, saying the new endpoint rate limits are likely a “good thing” for users:
We actually expect this to minimize the chances of being stuck in “Twitter Jail”. As an example, if you refresh your timeline over 60 times in an hour, you’ll still be able to post or DM. In general assuming the numbers listed on Twitter’s side remain consistent this should make for an overall better user experience.
On the other hand, Haddad was more critical of something that’s also raised anger across the developer community: the user caps that Twitter announced. These caps are likely to impact some new/recent apps, and discourage developers from creating new apps on Twitter’s platform. Haddad says he “can’t say that I’m thrilled” about the caps and “would’ve much preferred to see some some other approach.” Many developers agree with that.
For me, the most balanced and realistic reaction that I’ve seen to yesterday’s news comes from Dan Frommer at ReadWriteWeb.
It’s common to hear media companies talk about “scale” or “reach,” especially around advertising opportunities. In Twitter’s case, it needs to have people as many people as possible reading Twitter within its own environment, to get as much of that “scale” as possible for its ad-sales efforts. It’s no longer desirable to Twitter for its users to be elsewhere, where Twitter has little control over their user-experience quality or the advertising they see.
It’s hard to fault Twitter for wanting to grow its business but, as Twitter users, we have to hope that it finds a way to balance innovation and creativity — the kind often found in third-party apps and not in Twitter’s own products — with the bottom line.
Postscript: While researching this article, I reached out to OneLouder — the developer of Twitter client apps Slices, SportCaster and others — for reaction to Twitter’s new API rules. We were unable to connect via phone (my fault), but company president Evan Conway has published his thoughts on the company blog. Like the developers mentioned above, Conway is not angry about the changes.
“… while there are some restrictions from Twitter, we are much more comfortable today having their official guidance. For example, it looks like Twitter will be strict in requiring apps to display core Twitter functions properly. This is something we have always tried to be good about and will continue. There are also some real benefits such as improvements in rate limits and simply better clarification as to the rules of the game.
We remain committed to the Twitter ecosystem.
He goes on to say that “the restrictions Twitter has imposed give us room to grow.”