I’m Done Developing for Twitter
There’s a reason my side projects have favored the Twitter platform: I’m a fan of the service, and earnestly want to improve the experience of her users. No more: Twitter is a hostile partner to developers and has bluntly terminated my projects without so much as a reason.
First it was Proxlet (now defunct). Chris Ricca and I built Proxlet because we wanted to improve our Twitter experience. It’s too easy to resent your tweet-stream when it’s overflowing with #FollowFridays, Paper.li and other assorted tweet-spam. So we did something about it: we built the ultimate Twitter API Proxy that would allow us to mute undesirable applications and hashtags in a way that could work w/ nearly every important native or web client. It was a huge hit, well covered by major tech blogs, gaining a large following and even dedicated support in native clients.
One day, Twitter decided to take issue with the implementation. Instead of reaching out to us to warn us of any potential action, they unceremoniously shut our application down, leaving every single one of our users in a broken state: suddenly their clients just stopped working; they had no way of knowing how to recover, and we had no time to prepare to tell them.
Flash forward half a year, I built a small app called TweetFavor. It was built for two reasons, the first to help my friends and I coordinate tweeting. Instead of receiving an email request saying “hey tweet this!” you receive an email and can pledge a single tweet of your choice the requester can redeem in the future. The second reason I built it was to teach students at Intelligent.ly how to build Google App Engine, Twitter Bootstrap apps. Imagine my surprise when mid-class, Twitter shutdowns down TweetFavor without any reason given. As far as I can tell, it in no way violates their terms of service, but even more insulting, it looks like they never even logged into to investigate it.
All my developer goodwill towards Twitter has been exhausted. They’ve demonstrated not once to me, but twice, that they have no desire to work with developers, but rather antagonize them as they see fit.
Moral of the story: be-wary of developing applications with dependency to a platform. And if you’re doing so for hobby projects, let this serve as a guide about where you should steer your efforts.