Knowing When to Quit

Uncategorized Nov 24, 2014

I hate using the word “quit”. Because it’s not quitting. It’s not even “giving up”.

Today, the prolific Manton Reece wrote a blog post announcing that he is sunsetting his Twitter apps. This, after a recent announcement that Twitter’s (amazing!) new fully searchable tweet archives won’t be made available to third-party developers.

Twitter’s fully-searchable index is an announcement I’ve been waiting on for years. Back when I worked at Yahoo!, I co-created Sideline, a cross-platform desktop client for searching Twitter. A year later, after Sideline was sunsetted, I rebuilt it as a native Mac desktop app called Incoming!. Both Sideline and Incoming! were fantastic ways for discovering what’s currently happening on Twitter and for following the latest trends – whether that be an Egyptian uprising or whatever the hell latest trouble Justin Bieber is into.

But those apps were always crippled by the lack of history in Twitter’s search API.

If Twitter hadn’t already turned into such a giant dick towards third-party devs, their full-search announcement would have filled me with technical amazement and hope at the amazing apps that could be built on top of such a corpus. Sadly, I knew it was too good to be true, and sure enough, a link from Marco sealed the deal.

It’s only a matter of time until all third-party apps are either pushed out of business or users leave for features we simply can’t compete with.

As I said at the top of this post, Manton isn’t quitting. He’s one of the most thoughtful developers I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with. He, like many of us, is simply recognizing when a window of opportunity has closed shut. I applaud him for the care with which he’s shutting down Tweet Library and Watermark.

Not to jump on his bandwagon, but I’ve also decided to remove Incoming! from the Mac App Store. It’s ability to dive into breaking news and social trends by aggregating tweets never caught on the way I had hoped. I kept it alive for the last few years hoping that, eventually, we’d get access to Twitter’s entire history. But now that we know that isn’t going to happen, I see no reason in keeping it alive.

Incoming! will of course continue working for users who already have a copy. I plan on making a free version available later this year on my archives page for anyone who still has a use for it.