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Twitter Restricts Client Developers 96

New submitter atsabig10fo writes "Twitter has finally released the hinted-at changes to their API, which include limiting the number of users for third party clients, per-endpoint rate limiting, and restrictions on how tweets can be displayed and posted. Twitter's Michael Sippey wrote, 'One of the key things we've learned over the past few years is that when developers begin to demand an increasingly high volume of API calls, we can guide them toward areas of value for users and their businesses. To that end, and similar to some other companies, we will require you to work with us directly if you believe your application will need more than one million individual user tokens.' Third party app developers are certainly going to be sweating these changes, and it puts the future of new development in question."
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Twitter Restricts Client Developers

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  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Friday August 17, 2012 @09:04AM (#41022627)

    "...we can guide them toward areas of value for users and their businesses..." = we can charge you money

    . "To that end, ...we will require you to work with us directly..." = therefore, we will charge you money

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2012 @09:06AM (#41022643)

    "Hey guys, I have been thinking that maybe we need a way to prevent clueless developers from DDOSing us with their client." Is probably more it.

  • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Friday August 17, 2012 @09:11AM (#41022673)

    I'm not sure why someone hasn't built a Twitter clone that just runs on top of IRC. Twitter is in many ways web IRC already.

    Simple. You can be assurred that 99.999% of Twitter's users don't care in the slightest about this, and the value of Twitter is its user base.

    Its the exact same reason none of the "free" social networking projects have made even a tiny blip in the public awareness, and will never overtake Facebook.

    Twitter and FB have done something that MySpace never did -- transitioned out of a finnicky group of users (kids who try new things all the time) and got broad usage among the pool of people who don't. (Adults who have better things to do with their time then chase the latest trend.)

  • by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Friday August 17, 2012 @09:48AM (#41023005) Homepage
    They are requiring authentication at all endpoints, at least in part to prevent mass public reading of data. But this can be done through the web interface without authentication, and a programmatic web interface is not difficult to write. All that's needed is a burner user (or set of them, if Twitter is going to be diligent about shutting them down). Since it's all automatic, the real-time services are impacted, but the spamming, data mining and other potentially nefarious uses which do not require real-time data would be unimpeded, beyond a few days to put together a client to get this information differently and the effort of automating account creation. In other words, major inconvenience for legit app developers, but minor inconvenience for those who are looking to abuse the system.

    Additionally, if you are building a Twitter client application that is accessing the home timeline, account settings or direct messages API endpoints (typically used by traditional client applications) or are using our User Streams product, you will need our permission if your application will require more than 100,000 individual user tokens.

    We will not be shutting down client applications that use those endpoints and are currently over those token limits. If your application already has more than 100,000 individual user tokens, you'll be able to maintain and add new users to your application until you reach 200% of your current user token count (as of today) — as long as you comply with our Rules of the Road. Once you reach 200% of your current user token count, you'll be able to maintain your application to serve your users, but you will not be able to add additional users without our permission.

    In other words, if you build something like TweetBot (or Tweetie, which is now Twitter's official mobile client!), you can't get bigger than 100,000 users. So no point in spending time building a better Twitter client: if it's good enough to get used, it can't get used. This seems ... counterintuitive ... if your goal is to have a successful platform.

    We hope that all of this information gives you more clarity around where we are headed with API v1.1.

    It does give clarity. It clarifies that Twitter is angering the very developers who are both motivated and capable of building a system to replace it. Also, this means that client innovation (the same innovation that brought hash tags, @ references and tweet discovery) will slow dramatically, which in turn opens up niches for competing services to capitalize on.

    All in all, this smells like a huge error on their part.

  • 2 - 2 = 4? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <.marc.paradise. .at.> on Friday August 17, 2012 @09:53AM (#41023055) Homepage Journal

    Alright, so this is the part that baffles me:

    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.

    Ok, so developers need to do something to differentiate. Got it.

    We will require all applications that display Tweets to adhere to these []. Among them: linking @usernames to the appropriate Twitter profile, displaying appropriate Tweet actions (e.g. Retweet, reply and favorite) and scaling display of Tweets appropriately based on the device. If your application displays Tweets to users, and it doesn't adhere to our Display Requirements, we reserve the right to revoke your application key.

    Right! So developers shouldn't build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter experience - and instead they should differentiate by building apps that adhere strictly to the UI requirements. These requirements provide explicit detail as to how to create a client that mimics and reproduces the mainstream Twitter experience.

    Wait, how's that again?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2012 @09:57AM (#41023101)

    And this is why you should never base your business model atop someone else's product. Because that way your always at their whims.. I would only consider building atop another system if your life cycle (development and bringing to market ) is measured in months, and you have an exit plan ready to go.. otherwise get ready for restrictions once root company actually needs to make money and satisfy investors...

  • by Captain Hook ( 923766 ) on Friday August 17, 2012 @09:59AM (#41023125)
    except you don't have space for 1000 fruit, you have pretty close to infinite space and you are artificially limiting selection to 1000 apples... also, don't you dare try to slip an orange in there, everyone knows apples are the king of fruits and everyone should therefore be happy to be restricted to just apples.
  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Friday August 17, 2012 @10:10AM (#41023247) Homepage

    That's not going to work. Web scrapers break when you make the slightest changes to the way the web page is delivered.

    If Twitter notices a lot of scraping going on? Tweak the page slightly. Then 573 scraper developers have to update their code. How many times will this happen before they give up? I'm betting not many.

    I'm extremely pissed off at the way Twitter is trying to push away third party clients. TweetBot is AMAZING, and FAR superior to Twitter's own client. If they put as much effort into developing their client as they are restricting the API and whining about this, it could probably better. But of course they don't.

  • by datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Friday August 17, 2012 @10:35AM (#41023585)

    I have had Facebook and Twitter icons stop page loads before. Pissed me off so bad I threw my mouse. When you take care to build a fast website and then add these little tiny buttons only to watch your site grind to a halt, it is extremely infuriating. It is probably best to physically locate the code at the end of the page and position it manually.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein