November 07, 2008

Twitter Planning to Open Up the Firehose "by Thanksgiving"

By Jesse Stay of Stay N' Alive (Twitter/FriendFeed)

In an assuring statement in the Twitter API Developers Group, Alex Payne, the API lead at Twitter, shared that they have plans to have their Fire-hose of Data available to developers and users by "Thanksgiving at the Latest".  The Firehose, or Twitter's continuous XMPP stream (the protocol that powers services like Jabber and Google Talk), has been at the center of controversy for Twitter, where they opened it up briefly to developers, and had to take it down again when they realized the traffic was simply too much for their servers.

The shut-off of the firehose has set off a slew of critiques, including my own, even sending Steve Gillmor to briefly, and ending up in a get-together of like-minded Twitter and other developers to "bearhug" Twitter.  Twitter responded saying at times there would never be a Fire-hose again, and at others, that they were now sending users to services such as Gnip to access the data.  With Gnip closing its doors on its own XMPP stream recently though, it would appear even more frustration is brewing amongst developers.

All that controversy may just come to an end however, as Payne stated in the developers group:
For what it's worth, we've actually been cranking on the "firehose"
solution all week. We've evaluated several queueing systems, and I've just finished work on a proof-of-concept backup plan if those don't pan out. We'd really like to have a solution in place by Thanksgiving at the latest.
There's no doubt with FriendFeed opening up their Firehose of Social Media data, and Gnip cutting off it's XMPP stream that Twitter is feeling the pressure lately to open up real-time data to developers and users.  With Gnip out of the picture, Twitter now has no more resources to send people to in order to hold people off until they get their API in order.

Proof is in the pudding however, and it will definitely be interesting to watch as Twitter attempts to tackle this problem.  Maybe we'll all be getting a little early Christmas gift from Twitter after all?

Read more by Jesse Stay at Stay N' Alive.