Twitter developers may not like some of the details, but they finally have more clarity about Twitter’s plans for its API and how it expects the overall developer ecosystem to look and operate in the future.
About six weeks after it warned developers that “stricter guidelines” were coming, Twitter announced the new rules today. They’ll take effect “in the coming weeks” when Twitter releases version 1.1 of its API. Developers will have six months to migrate to the new API and fall in line with the new rules.
Those new rules include:
Required authentication: Applications won’t be able to access the API anonymously.
Per-endpoint rate limiting: Rather than allowing 350 API calls per hour for all applications, most endpoints will be limited to 60 per hour — “well above the needs of most applications,” Twitter says — and other apps doing Tweet display, profile display and user lookup/search will be given a higher limit of 720 calls per hour per endpoint.
“Rules of the Road” changes: There are several changes coming here, the most important of which may be that the current “Display Guidelines” will become “Display Requirements.” Twitter wants all applications to provide a consistent user experience when it comes to displaying tweets, and those that don’t may find their API access revoked.
Paul Haddad, the developer behind the popular third-party Twitter client Tweetbot, has already responded on Twitter to the new rate-endpoint limitations:
The sky is not falling, I’d obviously prefer that there wasn’t any cap, but the current cap is pretty huge and we aren’t going anywhere.
— Paul Haddad (@tapbot_paul) August 16, 2012
He went on to say in a follow-up tweet that “Tweetbot for Mac is still on track, get ready for a Beta soon.” Expect other developers to weigh in with their reactions to Twitter’s new API rules, too.
The Twitter Developer Ecosystem
Twitter also used today’s announcement to share its vision for the overall developer ecosystem and, despite Haddad’s optimism, there are a few ominous words that may worry other developers and discourage some from creating apps for Twitter.
In the post, Twitter’s Michael Sippey says Twitter wants to “encourage activity in the upper-left, lower-left and lower right quadrants, and limit certain use cases that occupy the upper-right quadrant” of the image above. That’s where third-party clients (like Tweetbot and others) exist, and Sippey pretty clearly states that Twitter doesn’t want to see any more apps like that:
Nearly eighteen months ago, we gave developers guidance that they should not build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. And to reiterate what I wrote in my last post, that guidance continues to apply today.
Whether the wide range of Twitter app developers are happy with the details of today’s announcement or not, they at least have something resembling a blueprint to follow for when Twitter’s API version 1.1 is released.
Twitter’s tightening of its API policies has already impacted its users that also have accounts with LinkedIn and Instagram. And one developer, Dalton Caldwell, was inspired to create a new Twitter-like service at App.net. See the stories below for more on that.
Also see Using Star Trek To Explain Winners & Losers In Twitter’s New Ecosystem Quadrants, our related story from today that explains the changes above in terms of the worlds, alliances and battles of the Star Trek universe.