Twitter Developer Labs opens to all with release of first APIs

In May, Twitter announced plans to launch its Twitter Developer Labs program, a way for app developers to sign up to experiment with pre-released beta APIs. The idea, the company explained at the time, is to allow developers to test new API products early and offer feedback.

Today, Twitter says it’s introducing its first Twitter Developer Labs endpoints: GET/users and GET/tweets. These allow developers access to look up tweets and users by ID.

Twitter had earlier confirmed these would be the first API products to launch through the new program. They’ll be later followed by Filtered Tweets, which offers a real-time but filtered stream of tweets; as well as Recent Search, offering a way to search tweets from the past seven days. These latter APIs are still listed as “coming soon” on the Developer Labs website.

Beyond being a way for developers to test and give feedback over API products, the launch of the new program is Twitter’s latest attempt to reset relations with its broader developer community.

The company has had a rocky road in terms of its API platform, having yanked access to key APIs at times, and destroying app makers’ businesses along the way. Twitter never fully embraced its developer community. Years ago, it pulled out the rug from under the feet of those building alternative Twitter clients. It shafted its own partners. It hosted then killed its own developer conference. It sold off its Fabric developer toolset. More recently, a 2018 change broke many third-party Twitter-reading clients.

However, the company now hopes that working with developers more directly will be another way forward. By giving developers a voice when it comes to API changes, it may even gain more interest in its paid API products — like the premium ($339-$2,899/month) API or even enterprise API tiers.

Twitter reminds developers today that its new endpoints are still early releases and could still change.

“Since the endpoints we will release in Labs are early previews, they may change before we release them broadly,” writes Twitter in an announcement on its Twitter Labs community site. “We encourage you to take that into consideration as you build with them. For example, this might mean they’re not good choices to use in a high scale production application, and might be better for prototyping (if you run multiple versions of your application),” the company said.

Developers will get advanced notice when new versions of endpoints are released, so they have time to make updates. And Labs versions will be supported for a period of time during the transition, as well, the company notes.

Interested developers have to create a developer account, get approved, then join Labs to access the new APIs.