Twitter tries to woo developers with unified API platform, new platform roadmap

After years of struggling to connect with developers, Twitter takes another stab at it with more transparency and a more streamlined API platform.

Twitter on Thursday announced it's revamping its API platform, with updates that respond to developer requests and a roadmap that lays out several new product updates and enhancements for the API platform.

"These efforts represent a massive new engineering and product investment in the future of the Twitter API platform, and in our developer ecosystem," Twitter staff developer advocate Andy Piper wrote on the Twitter blog. "We see a huge opportunity for businesses to harness the power of Twitter in all aspects of their operations -- from responding to customer needs and creating delightful customer experiences to identifying emerging trends, making better products, and more."

Later this year, Twitter will roll out a unified API platform "that serves everyone, from an individual developer testing a new idea to Twitter's largest enterprise partners." The new platform should make it easier for developers to create and scale applications, products, and businesses.

Twitter acknowledged that developers have frequently complained about the challenges of scaling access to Twitter's APIs. The company acquired Gnip in 2014, giving it a suite of enterprise-grade APIs that offered greater functionality than Twitter's standard REST and streaming APIs. However, Twitter said, the Gnip APIs "have a price point that is often out of range for developers just starting to scale their businesses."

The new unified platform "combines the free and easy access of the standard REST and streaming APIs with the enterprise-grade power and reliability of Gnip."

As it unifies the platform, Twitter also promised new business-oriented products that will help developers glean business insights from Twitter's public data, as well as help them create engagement tools.

Developers can track Twitter's product announcements slated for the next year via the newly published API platform roadmap. As the roadmap shows, Twitter on Thursday launched in beta the Account Activity API, giving access to real-time events for accounts you own or manage. Twitter on Thursday also rolled out a set of new Direct Message API endpoints.

Twitter has struggled in its relationship with developers for years. It initially invited third-party developers, and then it restricted them. In 2014, the company launched a mobile developer platform, but earlier this year, Twitter sold it to Google. As Twitter noted in Thursday's blogs, it's listened to developers' frustrations about its API platform at events around the world and in developer discussion forums.

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