Don’t get yourself in a flap

Twitter’s API changes: what you need to know

Elliot Bentley
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As social network deprecates traditional API, older apps and sites may find Twitter integration broken.

This week marks the
beginning of the end for Twitter’s ‘v1.0’ API, which as announced
last year
will soon be deprecated. However, many developers may
find older apps and websites that are reliant on Twitter broken as
a result.

Tomorrow (5th March), the
first of many “blackout tests”
will be carried out, simulating
the pulling of the plug on API v1. This time, unauthenticated
requests will receive an ‘HTTP 410 Gone’ response from 9:00am to
10:00am PST, but more drastic blackouts are likely to follow in the
run-up to the API’s permanent retirement.

It’s a good time, then, for developers working with Twitter to test
their compatibility with the newer API v1.1, which Twitter is now
encouraging migration to. However, some of the differences between
the two have been controversial.

The biggest single change is the 100,000 user limit on traditional
clients, such as Tweetbot, which Twitter are attempting to snuff
out. There’s currently no mechanism for determining the number of
tokens available beyond contacting the platform team – but this
shouldn’t be an issue as long as you’re not trying to replicate
TweetDeck or Twitter’s mobile app.

More relevant to all developers is the compulsory use of OAuth when accessing
all API endpoints. Currently, all applications require an access
code from both the application and the user, although an
application-only version is promised sometime in the future.

Twitter claim this change is designed to “prevent abusive behavior”
and “help us to further understand how categories of applications
are using the API”, though cynics might argue it’s more about
preventing applications they don’t like (such as
weknowwhatyouredoing.com
).

On a positive note, most applications should be able to query the
API more often due to changes to rate
limiting
.

API v1.1 also introduces new developer
display requirements
which outline a standardised layout for
tweets – essentially insisting that all tweets look exactly as they
do on their website and apps.

How will Twitter enforce this policy? Well, for one thing,
traditional XML, Atom, and RSS feeds will be deprecated along with
API v1.0, nixing hundreds of custom timelines around the web. This
also means that
old versions of the official old
widgets, which relied on these
feeds, will stop working (Twitter now recommends new widgets tied to
individual IDs and specific domains).

Some may
disagree with these changes
, but as it’s Twitter’s API, they
can do what they like with it. Those looking for more freedom might
want to look at the considerably more open (albeit smaller and
pricier) App.net.

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