Twitter Announces New API, Details Its Vision For Developer Ecosystem

twitter-logo-2012-newTwitter 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:

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 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.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Social Media Marketing | Top News | Twitter | Twitter: Business Issues


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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