Will Twitter Open Its Canvas to Developers?

Adam DuVander
Sep. 17 2010, 12:00AM EDT

Twitter may be taking a card from the Facebook playbook. Along with its launch of the new design earlier this week, the company's flagship site now has plenty of new screen real estate. And with 16 launch partners, one has to wonder how Twitter will open the space up to others, including independent developers.

When users click on tweets in the timeline, additional information is shown in the right column. For now, most are embedded media like videos and photos. A few of the 16 launch partners show that the content can go a little further. For example, micro-lending service Kiva (which has the Kiva API) shows additional information about the loan linked from the tweet. It's reminiscent of Facebook applications, third-party-developed features that function directly within Facebook itself.

Former Twitter API guy Alex Payne also pointed to the similarities between Facebook's original platform and Twitter's latest tweaks:

Previously, developers took data out of Twitter and into the context of their own applications and services. The new design flips this on its head, bringing rich embedded content into the site from a host of brand-name web properties. (It's worth noting that Facebook has done much the opposite: they started out with a very centralized build-it-within-our-walls model, then gradually grew their tendrils out into the web with Facebook Connect.)

Twitter hasn't officially stated that it plans to share the valuable real estate, though the writing is certainly on the wall. The question is whether it will be something open to all developers, available only by invitation, or something businesses are willing to pay for. How would you like to see the space be used?

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

Comments

Comments(3)

I would be interested in showing mathematical equations linked to the tweet in this area. In a sense, this would work much like display of an attached image but with some big differences. Its semantics would be exposed via MathML thereby allowing users to copy math to and from math-savvy products such as my own company's MathType, Mathematica, Matlab, and even MS Office. It would also allow the math to be accessible to users with disabilities, and searchable. All of this would be used by students, teachers, scientists, engineers, etc. I could do a lot with an API that allows access to this area.

[...] When Twitter unveiled its new design we called it one giant mashup, because the right side of the screen is reserved for previews of images and videos from sources linked in tweets. As expected, Twitter is expanding the sources from the 16 included at initial launch. Someday, perhaps, that space will also be open to developers. [...]