New Twitter API Drops RSS Support

Source: Official Twitter logo | Wikipedia

After its announcement last month, Twitter officially rolled out its API update version 1.1 last Wednesday. The micro-blogging site said that the updated API is designed to create a “consistent Twitter experience” across platforms and devices. Although the API changes were already announced, its overview highlighted some that were previously unknown. It includes the end of Twitter’s support for RSS, XML, and Atom.

Implication of Twitter’s API Update 1.1

Seeing Twitter’s support for XML coming to an end is no longer a surprise. That’s because the micro-blogging site has slowly dropped its support for XML in favor of JSON for the past year and a half. However, dropping RSS and Atom is a major change.

RSS and Atom are two major formats used to serve up Web feeds. This can include text, video, audio, images, and other types of media. On user’s end, RSS feed is used as a way to subscribe to a blog’s Web content or podcast.

Since its inception, Twitter has allowed developers to access its timelines and search queries using RSS. This made a lot of social aggregators to use the format as an easy way to pull in tweets along with messages for other services.

Although majority of aggregation apps can be rewritten using the micro-blogging site’s API version 1.1, it would require the use of OAuth 1.0 in all endpoints. This means developers must use the OAuth if they want to get data out of Twitter. Requiring OAuth has the potential of stopping abusive behavior, but it can also mean that the micro-blogging website has the power to control and monitor who is using the data and how it is being used.

Because of the changes in Twitter’s API, applications that use RSS, XML, and Atom must shift to JSON or other API methods by March 5, 2013.

The Impact to End Users

According to Twitter, its API’s RSS usage was low, although it’s unclear how many applications and services pull data or feeds through this method. RSS can be used to display a stream of tweets from a user or a hashtag as a website widget. However, the deprecation of its support for RSS makes the ability to build user and hashtag-based timeline sensible.

The new Twitter timeline feature will make it easy for users to create embeddable timelines of events or interactions. This is still relatively similar with the micro-blogging site’s update widget for websites, except that it can pull conversations and search queries based on a particular hashtag.