Five years ago today, I joined Twitter as its 897th user, though for some reason “my first tweet”:http://twitter.com/manton/statuses/1457463 wasn’t until a few months later. So much has changed in the meantime — the API always in flux, the transition from primarily SMS, to web, to apps — but in many ways the core of the service remains intact and stronger than ever. Short messages, distributed efficiently to friends.
I talked about some of the good and bad of being a Twitter developer “on the ATX Web Show last week”:http://atxwebshow.com/2011/07/05/episode-34-tweet-library-with-manton/. There have been a string of changes that cause developers to scramble: turning off basic auth, discouraging mainstream clients, disabling DMs for xAuth. With each step, Twitter loses a little goodwill, and that’s demonstrated in the tweets I “collected over the xAuth change”:http://tweetlibrary.com/manton/xauthtooauth.
Even as Twitter passes 1 million registered apps, there’s a risk that some developers will stick with the platform as users only, putting their apps in maintenance mode. In May, “Kiwi developer Isaiah stopped development”:http://yourhead.tumblr.com/post/5550105265/i-love-you-kiwi-i-know of his Mac Twitter app:
“I’m just going to take a break from Kiwi for a while. It’s still for sale. I still support it. I’ll still fix bugs when they crop up. But adding new features and playing catch up with the other guys/gals is off the table.”
Maybe because I don’t have to depend on Tweet Library sales, I tend to more stubbornly ignore what is good business sense. There’s so much I still want to do. As “I wrote in my previous take”:http://www.manton.org/2011/03/twitters.html on the state of the platform: “I’m a little discouraged, but not enough to stop.”
I think that’s doubly true today. More annoyed, but also more determined to plug holes in the platform, from archiving to syncing. I couldn’t be more excited about the developers who are building in “Tweet Marker”:http://tweetmarker.net/ support.
And there’s always a chance, a feeling that something big is just around the corner. That if I don’t add that one feature, or open up that new API, I’ll miss the tipping point that makes Tweet Library really take off.