RIP Twitter API 1.0

Contributing Editor

Twitter finally switched off version 1.0 of their API on June 11, 2013. If your website or application is failing today, this is likely to be the reason.

Twitter announced they were scrapping the first API last year and gave us at least six months to get our code in order. The initial May 7 stoppage date was postponed but if, you’re still using it, API 1.0 REST URLs will now report “The Twitter REST API v1 is no longer active. Please migrate to API v1.1. https://dev.twitter.com/docs/api/1.1/overview.”

What’s Changed?

The major differences between API v1.0 and v1.1:

  1. API v1.1 is SSL only.
  2. JSON is now the only available data format — XML, RSS and ATOM have been retired.
  3. All requests must be authenticated via OAuth.

Private Authentication for Public Data?

It’s this last point which causes the most confusion.

If your application wants to tweet on a user’s behalf, the user must provide permission. That’s understandable and was implemented in the first API. However, what if you simply want to display your own tweets on your own website? In API 1.0, you could access your timeline using a REST URL such as:

https://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.json?screen_name=craigbuckler

The returned data could be parsed and displayed accordingly. There are plenty of examples — I published a small Twitter widget on SitePoint in early 2011.

Even though those tweets are publicly available on Twitter.com (and could be screen-scraped), the raw data is no longer available unless your app provides authentication.

Display Decrees

It gets worse. Twitter has ruled that all applications must adhere with the Developer Display Requirements to ensure tweets and timelines are presented in a consistent manner across the web “in a way that meets the user’s expectation”.

Has anyone ever been confused when encountering a 140-character message? Not any more — Twitter logos and links must be plastered across it. Finally, don’t forget to check the guidelines frequently; you have a duty to update your application whenever Twitter says you should.

Network Commercialization

Twitter wants to take back control of an unruly system. From a commercial perspective, they’d prefer you to use the official Twitter widgets which permit them to manipulate tweets and presentation. If you insist on using an app, API 1.1 allows Twitter to shut down a service without warning or reason.

The policy could backfire. One of the reasons Twitter growth exploded was because of an open API which allowed developers to create apps and widgets which were never envisaged by the company. While they must make money to survive, closing the door will force many sites to scrap feeds which ultimately promoted Twitter. Will as many people use a more corporate and less useful service?

Twitter no longer owns the service they created; it’s owned by the users. Does Twitter have a future if they cannot understand or monetize this concept?

Has your Twitter app been affected today? Do you have the time and inclination to migrate to API 1.1? Will you switch to the official Twitter widgets? Or will you abandon some Twitter applications?

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  • metasilk

    Feed’s gone from some of my sites. The ugly one (the new one) is of course working on that site. I HATE the sight of the user icon/avatar in the feed. It’s an unbelievably stupid use of space when you’re only feeding one user’s tweets. Their branding is plenty strong enough without gunking up the off-site feeds and other peoples’ site designs.

    I liked very much having been able to update/comment/post in one place (twitter) and have it appear elsewhere. However, as I think the twitter-enforced layout would damage the style of various sites, I more likely to remove the feeds entirely than I am to ignore the Terms of Use and strip the twitter-decided styling. (Actually, I’m most likely to leave the feed there—empty— and add a comment of “can’t see this? It’s because twitter started restricting HOW you see the tweets.”)

    • Chris Raymond

      That’s what I just did. With a heading Twitter says screw you. Then:
      You can no longer see my tweets because Twitter, in its infinite arrogance, started restricting HOW you see tweets.

  • Zlati Pehlivanov

    Actually that stuff with the authorizations is around from 1 year already. I have used twitter oauth, in a desktop app, they didn’t close it. And the design was consistent with the twitter website.

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      OAuth has been present for a while as has API 1.1. If you livelihood depends on a working Twitter app, you’ll have updated your code accordingly. As for everyone else, there’s far less incentive.

  • http://blog.zvestov.cz banter

    This change is forcing me to buy a new phone. iPhone 3G supports only iOS 4.2.1 but twitter clients required 5 and higher.

  • Bam

    Total Joke and could be a massive own goal by Twitter!

  • mike

    Again we have accountants and bankers running a tech company. A serious tech CEO would not restrict his community of developers or users because he knows they are his lifeline. A banker, on the other hand just sees the next financial year’s profit figures and would be tempted to do that. What can I say, but these guys have taken over the tech industry and that’s why Twitters and others come and go so abruptly. Bye bye twitter, I won’t be forcing my app users to Oauth just to get a public feed. Apart from an unnecessary privacy concern of tracking user’s searches, it’s not something I think my users would want if they knew how that information was being used, especially now with NS* monitoring of all social media. Twitter, why did you shoot yourselves in the foot? What for, a little bit of financial year profit? I’ll be programming all the other Social networks who provide better, more private open access to their API’s. Twitter are losers, the writing’s been on the wall for 2 years now, they have finally given in to the bankers.

  • Chris Raymond

    As a designer, I am never going to allow an app to force how I display something on my site. So this is not going to spread Twitter around the globe, it is going to mean fewer displays. The arrogance is amazing.

  • Chris Raymond

    Just discovered this affects Twitter feed display in about.me sites. FYI.

  • http://www.littlebirdwebservices.co.uk Little Bird

    Thank you Twitter for telling me how I can show MY Twitter content on MY website. I’ve just read the display guidelines. Do Twitter not get that the only reason people went to the trouble of making custom feeds is that they didn’t want Twitter’s styling forced into their websites? I’ve always thought that the heading “Latest Tweets” or “What I’m Saying on Twitter” etc. gave plenty of context to the feed content so I hardly think that people need Twitter logos and links all over their feeds.

    I shall not be recommending the use of custom Twitter feeds to my clients anymore. I don’t like the way Twitter can switch off the API or change it any time they feel like it, taking the control of away from the developer and site owner.

  • http://centminmod.com/ George

    Same here, I just removed all my rss feeds for twitter from my site. I didn’t realise there are layout requirements too, so thanks to this article I do now. Cheers

  • http://r.je Tom B

    What is the consequence of ignoring the display requirements? Are they going to check every single website and have a hissy fit if you ignore it?

    It’s ridiculous.

    1) I can scrape the feed directly from twitter.com as HTML, there’s nothing they can do about that.

    2) What would be the ‘legality’ of having a site/page which pulled in a feed which followed the requirements in a very minimal way and then scraping that from another site/page?

    3) Given the above, how can the even think about enforcing this “requirement”?

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      They’ll have a tough time policing this nonsense. However, while API 1.0 was impossible to control without banning users, API 1.1 provides Twitter with a mechanism to switch off individual applications. Perhaps they won’t, but why implement it otherwise?

      I bet someone creates a Twitter screen-scaping application which returns JSON-encoded data like API 1.0!

  • Richard

    Can’t we just get it straight from the NSA via a PRISM api now?

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Great idea!

  • QED

    Worst yet, let us not forget that the new API imposes huge data restrictions. If you have a large site, you’re encouraged to cache the feeds. As a web publishing engineer with thousands of individual twitter feeds, we opted to have our users build widgets and paste the code. At least the widgets aren’t data-capped.

  • michelle

    Bye bye Twitter, I won’t be developing any more apps for your platform, if my users want to see public Twitter feeds they’ll have to put up with the crappy “official apps” that Twitter releases. This will surely kill the platform, I don’t think Twitter will be around much longer based on this move. Additionally, there will be a ton of screen scraper libraries developed to allow people to get their own public feeds and display them in a customized format. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to do that? Same thing happened to Google when they deprecated their search API and required developer keys, limitations and conditions. A black market emerged and google eventually gave up policing them (all the SEO tools). However they did shutdown Scroogle and I hate them for that. Startpage.com works with google and I wouldn’t touch them either, regardless of their privacy assurances. If Scroogle wasn’t allowed to scrape, why was Startpage allowed? Think about it.

  • http://www.brothercake.com/ James Edwards

    It raises the bar basically, so monetized professional apps won’t really be affected, because they have the resources to do the extra work. It’s small-scale users who are the losers here, and presumably that’s the point (because they don’t make any money for Twitter).

    It’s understandable, and Twitter don’t owe us anything. They’re a company trying to make money. And it’s a precedent we see all over the industry, from Microsoft’s effectively destroying the second-hand market for XBOX games, to Mozilla’s increasingly hostile attitude to extension developers (or am I the only one who’s sick of that?)

    Twitter is not what it used to be, and that change was inevitable. It’s hegemony, and it happens everywhere — all sub-culture is eventually absorbed into the mainstream.

    The thing to do now is invent something new :-)

  • J Hildebrand

    I am not a programmer, and not even a regular Twitter user. I just liked subscribing to a couple of Twitter feeds via RSS in Microsoft Outlook, and I liked how this archived the tweets in my inbox. Now I no longer have the ability to do that.

    I found information on a potential workaround at this link, but I can’t figure out how to get it to work:
    http://www.labnol.org/internet/twitter-rss-feeds/27931/