Twitter API Updates and the Effects

September 17, 2012 Michael O'Laughlin

Twitter recently announced upcoming changes to their API. These changes, scheduled for March 2013, will affect many sites that use the API to get information from Twitter.

Developers use APIs (Application Programming Interface) to access information from systems like Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc. This allows them to post and update content that originates from one system to another application, such as adding a twitter feed to your website’s homepage. Developers are allowed to use the APIs as long as they follow the terms of use.

There are several planned changes to the API, but the following are the three that concern us the most because of the way we work with the information from Twitter:

Authentication Required
In the old version of the API, developers could make a request to Twitter without having to be authenticated on its system. This meant that anyone could access public information from the Twitter API, and they didn’t have to tell Twitter who they were to do so.

One of the updates requires all users of the API to be authenticated before making any requests for information. This will require each organization to have a Twitter account so that it can be used for authentication. Twitter is requiring that applications be updated to use OAuth, an open standard for authentication, before March of 2013.

Per-Endpoint Rate Limits
Twitter will also limit the number of times an end point can be requested from its services to 60 requests per hour. An end point is an individual Twitter feed (example twitter.com/OneNorth). You may have members of your organization that have their own Twitter feed being displayed on the same website. Because it is a different end point, it will be at its own unique rate limit of 60 requests per hour.

Rate limiting may be an issue if you display tweets on your homepage or on another high traffic page. Because data is requested each time a page is browsed or refreshed, high traffic pages like the homepage can sometimes request an end point more than 60 times per hour.

Tweet Display Formatting
Instead of providing developers with Display Guidelines, Twitter will be enforcing Display Requirements with the update. The new requirements will ensure that all applications provide Twitter users with a consistent experience, including linking @usernames to the correct Twitter profile, displaying appropriate tweet actions and scaling the display of tweets according to the device they are being viewed from. Developers must abide by the requirements or risk losing their application key for the API.

As developers, we have been given six months to update existing applications to conform to the updates. It is better to start early in reviewing your application and the type of impact the updates will have in case you'll need to come up with a major change in architecture.

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Michael O'Laughlin Director, QA & Managed Applications

As Director, QA & Managed Applications, Michael is responsible for delivering One North digital experiences to clients and creating both web applications and custom data integration solutions. Michael’s favorite Chicago spot is the United Center, watching the Hawks in the playoffs.

  • Favorite movie quote: “Great moments...are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game. If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game; not tonight.” - Miracle
  • What you wanted to be when you were little: A firefighter

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