Old Man’s Rants, The Twitter API

I’ll take how to piss everyone off for 1000 Alex


Well it’s been a while but it is time for another old man rant. You might of seen this coming, there has been lots of reaction in the blind community to all this Twitter stuff. Surprise surprise I have an opinion on it and I’m going to spew it all over your screen right now.
I’ll be following my normal format in these posts. First a ranty bit followed by me stepping back and looking at the issue with a clear head, then a conclusion to end the post.

As with any post from a contributor on the blog. The opinions in the post are only that of the writer and not that of the blog as a whole. I’m willing to guess someone else who writes here disagrees with something I’m saying and that is perfectly okay and good. Everything here is what I believe, not what the blog believes.
I’m guessing a lot, a whole lot of readers will disagree with what I’m saying in this post. This is honestly good and the whole point of the Old Man Rants. To lay out a dissenting opinion from what most people feel. This is in a rant format just because it is entertaining to write and read. If you get offended and upset by anything in this post then you need to reflect on yourself not the one writing this post. Also if you want to pull some bull shit out of your ass about how it will effect people, and I’m just not one of them so I should shut up. I’m not saying people are not allowed to bitch, they can all they want and anyone else can look at it in a different way and point out they are either wrong or lying to advance their point. This seems to be the new commonly used check mate to an argument which is immature and just downright childish, not to mention it makes zero sense.

Some points to clarify right up front

I am not writing this from a developers perspective, they have an actual issue to complain about. I am writing this from the perspective of a Twitter user.
Usability is not fucking accessibility: I thought this was blatantly obvious until recently. More on this later.
Blowing this out of proportion is not helping anyone, it is just hurting your cause. Again more on this later.
This post is dealing with the current changes, not potential changes that may or may not come in the future. I like to work in reality not in what if land. So saying well they might in the future has nothing to do with this post. I might shit a unicorn at lunch but until it happens I’m not going to worry about it.
If you disagree or get pissed off feel free to leave a comment or tweet @blind_jhon. Or just tweet a reaction without at mentioning, what ever strikes your fancy. Going from past old man rants it will be the second option.

What got this started? (the ranty bit(

Any blind person on Twitter has heard all about this #BreakingMyTwitter shit flying around. I’ve been trying to avoid it and still I see more of it than I’d like to. It did give me a good topic for an Old Man Rant However so here I am. What exactly does this mean, it has to be true though since so many people are saying it? Well maybe not and people are just blowing shit completely out of proportion…this is the most likely choice knowing how most people act.
If you just follow a specific group of blind folks then you might be under the assumption that Twitter is changing their API so 3rd party apps won’t work anymore. Every person will be forced to use the official twitter site and apps, no more Chicken Nugget, TW Blue or anything similar. The best way to discuss this argument is these people are fucking wrong. there is no maybe this, or what if that, simply wrong and there is no way around it. If you are one of the people sharing or saying this you are down right lying and it is really damn annoying to see this spin out of control for no damn reason. Here’s a secret! Twitter is not breaking anything for any third party apps. If you think they are just stop, you are arguing the sun rises in the west and the moon is made of fucking cheese.

So why is everyone saying this if it isn’t true? It is quite simple. I’ll give you two choices someone has, and what the reaction would be to both.

1. Twitter is breaking support for all third party apps and you will only be able to use official twitter apps after August 16th!
reaction: this is terrible, I hate twitter, we need a hashtag! This needs to be stopped! this is unacceptable! I am blind and I need third party apps!
2. twitter is going to make it so you might need to wait 1 or 3 minutes to see tweets. it won’t be a live stream meaning you won’t see tweets the second they are posted. This is terrible they cannot do this to users of third party clients.
reaction: shut the fuck up! you have a serious mental disorder if you cannot wait a few minutes to see tweets. Maybe you have a social media addiction and need to get off Twitter and look up trained psychologists. #AssHat

Okay so yeah that second reaction would be mine. Maybe someone who is nicer would have a better way of wording it, but either way this doesn’t make it less true. Everyone is flipping their shit and completely lying or not looking up the facts before they start turning into a keyboard activist. If people were complaining about what was actually happening this would have no traction, so instead it has to be grossly exaggerated. Twitter clients will go back to the way they use to work, anyone who used the Qube in the past knows exactly how this works. Every so many minutes you will get a buffer update and you’ll get all tweets from that 3 minute time period at once. This is just so fucking terrible, how the hell will anyone survive. If I have to wait 3 minutes to see tweets I might just go chug a gallon of bleach and end my horrible social media existence. Someone is going to get pissed that I made a joke in poor taste to suicide…just wait.

This is what has been pissing me off so much about this whole situation. Non stop seeing everyone crying about something that is a complete non issue. Honestly, and I’m not joking here. If you cannot wait a few minutes to see your tweets come in then you have a problem, you really do. You cannot blame twitter for this, you can only try to fix your own problem. Am I being too mean? This is completely possible, but this is my rant on my blog so take a ticket and get in line, or drop it in the comments, that’s what they are there for. But I digress. Twitter is not breaking anything, the real issue is blind people making this into a bigger issue than it is. Yes I say blind people because I have yet to see one sighted person tweet about it. I know lots of people will say hey I know sighted people who have. Well the difference is I don’t follow sighted people who take time to whine about twitter API. Most of them probably don’t even know what an API is.

Usability is Not Accessibility!

As far as I can tell this seems to be a root issue for a lot of people and until now I didn’t even know this was a thing. People seem to be confusing Usability with Accessibility and these are two completely different fucking things. Unless I missed the memo and Usability has started identifying as Accessibility. If this was the case then I apologize and I respect its decision and will try to refer to it as Accessibility in the future. After performing a quick google search I am reasonably certain this is not the case however, so I will continue explaining how these are not the same.

This has to do with how easy something is to use. It can be 100% Accessible for all screen reader users, but not very intuitive. If it is clunky, or has a steep learning curve it might be a pain in the ass, but perfectly accessible.
If something is accessible to someone. For example if a software program or website has nothing but unlabeled buttons or graphics. If nothing on the screen or page can be detected by a screen reader. Then someone can say it is not accessible. If something is not accessible then it clearly is not fucking usable by a blind person.

So, how does this apply to this Twitter issue?
People are confusing these two. If 50% of blind people have zero problems using a web interface, but the other 50% of people cannot figure out how to use it. This means it is 100% accessible but maybe it just has shit usability. The same thing would apply if 1% of people had zero problems and 99% of people couldn’t figure it out. If I was to extend this to people using the twitter site, or different official twitter apps. Everyone is complaining that they are difficult to use, they are not as good as their third party options. This doesn’t mean they aren’t accessible, it just means either you cannot figure out how to use it properly, or it isn’t very usable. I don’t use the twitter app but I can tell you the site is 100% access-a-fucking-ible. Usability may be another matter, but don’t go saying it isn’t usable with a screen reader, if you spend time using it then you will have no problems.
All this is a moot point however as Twitter is not fucking killing third party apps. I’m just really getting annoyed with people saying it isn’t accessible and that blind people won’t be able to use Twitter anymore. Bull fucking shit blind people won’t be able to use Twitter. I’m blind as shit and I’ll still be using twitter with zero changes in how I do it. Then again I don’t sit and constantly check the end of my buffer waiting for someone to tweet some bull shit I can RT or like. I maybe check twitter every 30 minutes if I’m doing nothing or every couple hours if I’m working on something. If someone mentions me and I don’t see it for 15 minutes they will be just fine and so will I. I was also using Twitter back when this was the only way and I would have never thought of bitching then and I won’t bitch about it now. If you take anything away from this section it is. “Usability is not god damn fucking accessibility!” I wanted to reply with that so many times on twitter but I’m trying to be a better human and only say it in blog posts now…I’m a saint I know, no need to let me know.

Overall this is just really damn annoying and I just don’t get what everyone’s deal is. A whole lot of people are acting like spoiled children and blowing this way up past the point of truth and reality. There is even a petition going around to stop the deprecation of the streaming API. I’m sorry @jackf723 but come on, a petition? He’s a good guy and because of that even though I’m shitting all over everything involving people complaining about this I’ll still link his petition in case someone completely disagrees with me and wants to sign it. Change.org petition, Don’t deprecate the streaming API.
Okay, so I’m going to attempt to take a step back and look at this without being pissed off. This is going to be more difficult with this post as there isn’t much of a way to do this. I see allot of plain old lies being spread around, and I refuse to help spread them. Either way here goes.

Getting More In Depth, post coitus thoughts on the topic

People are angry, upset, and feel like they are being neglected by a social media company which is a major part of their life. I think people are most upset that Twitter is forcing them to use their official apps if they want certain things they have gotten use to. In other words they will have to change how they use and interact with the website. There are really only two choices, either use official Twitter apps if you want the live streaming, or get use to incremental timeline updates with a third party client. Both of these seem to be unacceptable to those complaining. The real issue is using misinformation and lies to advance your cause. I’d also be perfectly happy if Twitter stayed the way it is, but I don’t care if it changes to incremental updates either. I hate change, but this just isn’t a change that really effects my life. I’m not going to leave Twitter, and I’ll use it the same way I have always used it. Again This is how Twitter worked when I first made my account, and it is going back to working that way. Maybe we’ll even be able to be put in Twitter jail again.

I’ve had a short conversation with Manuel Cortez the developer of TW Blue and if anyone has a reason to be upset it is the developers of the third party clients. *Digression* if you claim to be getting upset for the developers of the third party apps, just stop, no need to be outraged for someone else, they can handle it on their own. *end of digression*. The issue for them is having to update their clients and feeling stiffed by Twitter after they have put so much time into a product. When I reached out to Manuel Cortez I realized this. I’ll put our conversation below.

Me: Will it make clients work like the Qube worked in the past, meaning you will only get a buffer update every so many minutes?
Manuel Cortez: Yes indeed. In TWBlue we do this already, making it so your buffers trigger an update every 3 minutes. We use this for keeping your buffers up to date and to get items which may be missing from the streaming API. This is in case of disconnections or API errors, or rate limits. But yes, that will be the only options we will have, just periodic updates every 2, 3 or 5 minutes.

Me: Will it go back to the 200 API calls per hour as it was before?
Manuel Cortez: I think the new rate limit window, for most calls, is about 15 minutes. If I am not mistaken that is, but I may be. The most important API calls will have a limit of 180 calls per 15 minutes. As I said before, we trigger buffer updates regularly every 3 minutes and never hit the rate limit API.

Me: Will developers only have to pay for keeping clients streaming as they work now, or will they have to pay for the API system where it updates per X minutes?
Manuel Cortez: The Rest API, which allows updates every x minutes, is still free. The only API that will disappear after august 16 is the Streaming API, which gives us the Real time experience. And btw, even for the new API which is a paid API that cost more than 2500 USD for 200 users), streaming connections are not included nor will be. They said they just don’t plan to add them, and a way to get timelines is not planned. For apps like TWBlue and others it means we won’t be able to get your buffers up to date in real time, except followers, friends, direct messages and probably mentions.

Me: Will you keep developing TWB or is that not even possible with the changes coming?
That’s probably the most difficult question to answer. I still don’t know. Personally I think TWBlue will be fine with a big update for fixing this and that, and we will be done for a long time. I mean, a lot of our features come from the Streaming API, and I can say the same about bugs. Without Streaming API, we don’t have that many things to do. Also I am not willing to keep working on an application like TWBlue, where Twitter can take a commercial decision and kill us without taking into account the time and effort devs are putting in our apps. I think in the future after august 16, you will see less frequent updates to TWBlue, and updates will likely only contain minor features and bug fixes. But don’t expect something amazingly awesome, because we just don’t have the motivation and respect from Twitter to be creative and put our work there. If I still update TWBlue it is because normal users, not Twitter.

Me: Will it kill 3rd party apps or will it just make them work different. Meaning like they did a few years back?
Manuel Cortez: I think they just forced us to take some steps back. If we want real time twitter experiences we will have to go with their official apps, otherwise we will have to be fine with getting your tweets every x minutes. In our case it means we won’t be able to get anything in real time, including events (they will disappear, there are no events in the Rest API). But everything else should work normally, basically everything will work like when Twitter faces issues and is not updating in real time due to server errors. About your question, I’d say Twitter will not kill third party apps, yet. But I couldn’t say they will not do that in the near future.

Me: Thanks, I just wanted to make one thing 100% for sure because there is allot of information going around that I think is probably wrong.
TWB will still work just fine, the only difference is that there will be buffer updates every X minutes. This goes for every buffer, the home, mentions, everything. It will not be a live stream seeing them right when they are sent, but when your client pulls the tweets every X minutes.
Manuel Cortez: well yes, but as I said before, we can’t be sure they won’t shut down the Rest API in the future. I think that’s the most important problem here. Lots of developers aren’t trusting them, and we are correct in doing so, to be honest. I have been reading in twitter developer forums that all of them feel somehow ignored from the twitter world.

He has an actual issue to complain about, and something to honestly be worried about. He made this program and all that time spent is going down the toilet as he will have to remove features from TWB. Features he had to spend time coding into the client in the first place. As a user of TWB it is not as big of a hit, even if people want to act like it is, it is not.
As I said at the top of the post I’m just not worried at this point that Twitter will completely kill all support for third party clients. I know people have been saying this, and people are saying it is coming, but I just haven’t seen anything to support this. If I’m wrong please leave me something in the comments or tweet me to let me know, but as it stands now it seems to just be a lot of twitter dooms day talk. That being said I can see why a developer would be worrying about this as they have a lot on the line, hours and hours of time and a client they have built. My only suggestion would be don’t take a long term loan out on worry. What will happen will happen and what won’t happen won’t. Until something actually comes there is no need worrying about it, doing so is doing no good. If it is going to happen then there isn’t much anyone can do to stop it so why waste time stressing about it. *digression* If you have this ability, apply it to everything in life and you will be much happier, too many people stress about things they have no control over. *end digression*

so what can be done, conclusion

I honestly don’t know if much of anything can be done about this. I’m such a pessimist I’m fully expecting everyone to read and use normal Internet tactics to disagree, but we’ll see.
Overall in a perfect world people would be honest and not exaggerate about what is happening. Be angry you have to wait a few minutes for your buffers/timelines to update. But why lie and say twitter is making it so third party apps can’t access twitter and it will be broken? None of this is breaking my twitter, and it isn’t breaking your twitter either. Stuff is changing, if you don’t like that, well that’s fine, but nothing is broken, why is everyone lying about this! I’m going to end this now before this spawns into another rant where I repeat the same shit over and over…this is angering. Can we all just stop this and quit acting like a bunch of whining blindies?

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One Reply to “Old Man’s Rants, The Twitter API”

  1. I’m not happy about this for a number of reasons, but yes, people are definitely over reacting. The first thing, when Twitter are OK with making such a profound change to their service, it sets a precedent. THat paid API is so over the top that the more business oriented clients like Hootsuite and the like may need ot charge or up their subscription coststo meet this new expense. I am not happy about the 3 minutes thing, although this is in fact very minor, especially since while some times, you can carry on realtime convos with people, other times one or both of the parties involved become busy or engaged in something and the comvo slows down. It honestly leaves a bad taste in my mouth, like OK, they’re doing this now, what’s next? It’s not any one issue, or a combination of issues really, its sort of the fact that they kind of had this thing established and stable, now they’re making significant changes, so what’s next, what will they do after this?

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