If Twitter wanted to alienate the developers who helped to make it such a success, today's new restrictions are a good way to do it.
Twitter revealed the specifics today on stricter API rules for developers, which means it's going to get tougher for third-party apps to grow their app's user base.
The new restrictions, which the company plans to roll out in the coming weeks, will include several changes, including a cap on the number of users an app can have and required authentication to access the application programming interface. This means Twitter is limiting the number of users for developers of third-party apps to 100,000 users unless it has permission from Twitter for more.
For clients who already have more than 100,000 users, Twitter will allow them to continue growing their base until it doubles. Once it hits the 200 percent mark, the developer will only be able to maintain the app, not grow it.
The other new requirements could also discourage developers. Currently, apps don't have to authenticate to access the API, leaving Twitter with no data on who is using their feeds. Twitter wants to know who is using its API feeds and at what volume, so it is requiring apps to authenticate every time.
"To prevent malicious use of the Twitter API and gain an understanding of what types of applications are accessing the API in order to evolve it to meet the needs of developers, it's important to have visibility into the activity on the Twitter API and the applications using the platform," the blog reads.
Developers have six months from the day the new API version is released to come into compliance with the new rules. Twitter, of course, is busy with folks weighing in:
Information wants to be free. Twitter is going against the tide. The music industry couldn't stop it from happening. How will Twitter?— Nova Spivack (@novaspivack) August 16, 2012
I suspect that I'll have to remove Twitter from most of Instapaper's "Liked By Friends" functionality.— Marco Arment (@marcoarment) August 16, 2012
Twitter's API has more rules than North Korea.— Aaron Levie (@levie) August 16, 2012
Developers have been expecting these changes for some time now. Twitter informed LinkedIn in June that it would be cutting off the network's access to Twitter's API, keeping LinkedIn from displaying the feeds on profiles. The company warned then that it would be releasing more restrictions for third-party app.
Update, 5:49 p.m. PT: Updated with more information.