Saturday, June 21, 2008

I wouldn't develop there even if you paid me

Sorry about the title, but I couldn't resist it when I heard that Jesse Stay had been interviewed by Justin R. Young of TalkingHeadTV regarding his June 19 article "Developers Bailing on Twitter". (You may recall my take on the article.)

If you go here you can see several video excerpts from the interview. Here's one of them:

Stay noted that more people access Twitter via its API (and via services such as Twitterrific and Twhirl) than access Twitter directly - so if the developers are adversely affected, it affects ten times more people than if something happens to Twitter's own GUI. He also related an example that he had previously shared on Disqus (note: if you want Jesse to talk about or use your service, get him a shirt):

Imagine, for instance, if Bear who wrote Twhirl were to develop a Plurk client in the near future. What if afterwards Bear decided to stop supporting Twitter because of the headaches and money it was costing Seesmic to stay up with the changes Twitter is putting in place without even notifying developers ahead of time. Users en masse would flock to Plurk because it would now be the best option to them through the same means they used to use Twitter.

However, there's still one question. Before I started talking about the development of applications (Twiddict, twitabit) designed to mitigate Twitter downtime, I wondered whether there was sufficient evidence of developer frustration:

I'm not quite sure that Stay effectively made his point that developers are abandoning Twitter. He only cited a few cases, and even if people say that they're going to do something, that doeesn't mean that they'll necessarily do it.

Stay provided an answer in a comment to Silicon Alley Insider:

The maintainer of an entire Twitter library jumped ship. Net::Twitter, the Perl Twitter library's author and original maintainer jumped ship and handed over development to another developer. There are many Twitter-based applications using that library right now. True, it's not dead, but moves like this are still unsettling and show the developer frustration that's out there.

Silicon Alley Insider subsequently published a comment from Twitter's Biz Stone:

We had 106 requests for new source parameters in the last 7 days up from 95 the previous 7 days. That's over 200 new twitter applications in two weeks.

Unfortunately, Stone has no way of measuring when a particular developer is no longer using the API. Perhaps a decrease in traffic in the Twitter Development Talk Google Group might be indicative. Or perhaps this is indicative of something:

About this group
Members 2081
Activity Low - 126 recent authors

Perhaps more pertinent information is revealed in the group's archive of monthly activity.

As you can see, the peak for group activity has (so far) occurred in May 2008, with 665 items. It doesn't appear that June will reach that peak of activity.

Perhaps this statistic should be revisited in September or October, after all of the vacations end. In October 2008, will the group have 1,000+ messages, or will May 2008 be the high point?

P.S. "The Big Country" is not available on Dang WB.

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