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Twitter tells developers not to build any more apps

David Ludlow
14 Mar 2011
Twitter says no more third-party clients to developers
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Says it wants consistency, not replication of features

While the sheer number of third-party clients have helped success of the micro-blogging website, Twitter has gone on the offence against them.

Posting Twitter Development Talk, Ryan Sarver from Twitter, said that the company didn't want to see any more apps that just copy core Twitter functionality.

"Developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience," wrote Sarver. "The answer is no."

Part of the reason for this is that Twitter believes that its users get confused by the multitude of Twitter applications out there, all doing things in a slightly different way.

"Our user research shows that consumers continue to be confused by the different ways that a fractured landscape of third-party Twitter clients display tweets and let users interact with core Twitter functions," said Sarver. "For example, people get confused by websites or clients that display tweets in a way that doesn’t follow our design guidelines, or when services put their own verbs on tweets instead of the ones used on Twitter. Similarly, a number of third-party consumer clients use their own versions of suggested users, trends, and other data streams, confusing users in our network even more."

As a result, Twitter thinks that enough is enough and has updated its Terms of Service for developers, to enforce the changes and ensure consistency across all third-party applications.

"If you are an existing developer of client apps, you can continue to serve your user base, but we will be holding you to high standards to ensure you do not violate users’ privacy, that you provide consistency in the user experience, and that you rigorously adhere to all areas of our Terms of Service," wrote Sarver.

Unfortunately, the post hasn't gone down at all well with Twitter developers, who are now worried that they could get cut off from the necessary API for not following the rules.

"Translation: 'Thanks for building apps that made people want to use Twitter. Thanks for putting up with us through the months and months of instability. We'll take over from here. If you want to try to build something around the fringes of Twitter, that's fine, but really, we don't need you anymore. Goodbye'," wrote TJ Luomo in response to the post.

Many of the developers have a good point. Besides, if someone doesn't like a Twitter app and finds it confusing, there's definitely another one that they can use. Twitter's success has been built on the fact that anyone has been able to write their own client, letting people Tweet from the app that they feel most comfortable with.

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