Innovation

Twitter overhauls API platform, mends broken promise to developers and businesses

Twitter recently announced that it was working to unify its API platform, making REST APIs more accessible to developers and businesses looking to work with the social media site.

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Image: iStockphoto/scyther5

On Thursday, Twitter announced in a blog post that it was updating its API platform, making it easier for third-party developers and businesses to build applications and tools on top of Twitter. The move seeks to mend the relationship between Twitter and developers that had been weakened by limited API access and Twitter's focus on its expensive Gnip enterprise API platform.

As noted in the Twitter blog post, the Gnip APIs provide stronger data access and more functionality, but are often at a "price point that is often out of range for developers just starting to scale their businesses." As such, the new unified platform will make standard REST and streaming APIs more easily accessible.

"We will streamline APIs, so developers will no longer have to contend with different access and delivery protocols as they scale," the post said. "This means one API for filtering data from the Firehose; one API for searching the Twitter archive; one API for getting realtime activities related to an account — including Tweets, Direct Messages, Likes & Follows."

SEE: How the stripped down Twitter Lite could cut mobile data use by 70%

One of the biggest focuses of the new API platform is scalability. Each of the three core API types—REST, streaming, and Gnip APIs—will be available in different tiers, the post said. So, developers will have access to a free tier for testing, and self-serve, paid access will be utilized as the product or feature grows, the post said. The price point and available features for each tier will be laid out clearly, so developers and businesses will be able to get the right amount of access for their project.

Twitter also announced that it would be working on new products targeted toward businesses and developers. The company will be working on a set of APIs that make publicly-available data from Twitter easier to utilize. Twitter will also be working on new APIs that make it easier for businesses to engage with customers on its platform, the post said.

To help interested organizations and developers, Twitter also posted a new API platform roadmap, to make it easier to track recent updates and features coming in the future. The company also updated its automation rules for developers, which can be seen here.

In terms of what is available now, Twitter also launched a new Account Activity API on Thursday, that will offer real-time event access for your accounts. The Account Activity API will eventually replace the User Streams and Site Streams, the post said.

Twitter also announced new Direct Message API endpoints that will allow developers to build on the Direct Message functionality. A new Search API and self-managed account access tools for developers are also in the works

The biggest value of Twitter is the sheer volume of data the platform has access to. Moving to make that data usable for developers and businesses again is a key move for Twitter, as the company's growth seemingly halted earlier this year. However, only time will tell if developers are willing to begin investing in the ecosystem again.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Twitter is unifying its API platform, offering tiers of access for REST, streaming, and Gnip APIs, in an effort to attract more developers and businesses.
  2. Twitter is also working on new APIs and products targeted toward businesses, like an Account Activity API and Direct Message API.
  3. Twitter's new API platform could help mend its relationship with developers, but it might be too little, too late.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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