Twitter admits their draconian developer policy was a mistake; is it too late to fix?



No one was in hotter water with developers than Twitter was a couple of years ago. If you don’t remember, the company introduced a wave of changes to their developer policy that basically destroyed the hopes and dreams of many third party Twitter client developers.

One of those policy changes introduced polling tokens that only allowed certain bits of information (and a certain amount of said information) to be accessed through official APIs.

The company took things a step further by introducing another type of token — authorization tokens — that limited how many users could use third party apps. That limit was set to a ridiculously low 100,000 tokens per app, which meant many popular Twitter apps become crippled in a very short amount of time. The move was likely made to funnel as many users as they could to the official Twitter app where the company has the most control over new features, updates and — most importantly — delivering ads.

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And now Twitter admits all of that was a mistake. Co-founder and current board member Evan Williams says now that the company is starting to get a feel for what they really are — which is a real-time news platform — they’re starting to realize that they have an actual platform on their hands.

“One of our strategic errors we had to wind down over time,” Evans said about the anti-developer changes in a recent sit-down. “It wasn’t a win/win for developers, users and the company.”

What’s a platform without developers? That’s the question Twitter has to answer now, and they seem to have realized that a platform without developers isn’t a platform at all. Williams says his company has come down on some of those stringent policy changes over the years, and it’s true — it’s been a long time since they’ve made developer-stifling moves.

But you have to wonder whether it’s too late for the company to win back the trust and support of third-party independent developers. It would take a huge swing in policy that would look to give developers the freedom and access they need to create great third-party Twitter experiences, and there would have to be reassurances that something like this won’t happen again. It isn’t easy or cheap to create apps, and developers have to know that they won’t have the rug pulled from beneath them one random day.

Twitter’s ongoing search for a new CEO means there are still a lot of changes to come, and we can only hope the new CEO will approach their position with a level-headed approach that doesn’t alienate the lifeblood (that lifeblood being independent developers) of modern software development.

[via Business Insider]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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