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Twitter will soon give developers access to streams of user activity on its system, and allow them to create their own annotations to send along with tweets, Twitter’s director of platform, Ryan Sarver, said at the company’s Chirp conference in San Francisco today.
“It’s important that we do keep agile, but as much as I can, we want to be explicit about where we’re going with these things,” Sarver said, noting that Twitter has fostered more than 100,000 registered applications, up from 50,000 in December.
Twitter’s new location feature, Places, will give developers a structured and curated database of places from around the world. That will allow tweets to be associated with the actual location they originated from, in a way that’s more decipherable and interesting than lat-long coordinates. It’s not necessarily a direct competitor to Foursquare or Gowalla, but it serves much of the same purpose for noting your location and broadcasting your comments about it in context.
Next, a new User Stream API will give developers access to a feed of user actions on a more granular level than just tweets. The user stream includes mentions, friending and favoriting (the kind of stuff you’re used to seeing in Facebook’s news feed). The API will be available to developers to play with at Twitter’s Chirp Hack Day (which actually starts tonight).
On the concept of metadata, Sarver previewed an Annotations feature that will be launching “next quarter” that gives developers much more flexibility around the context of a tweet. The feature will allow developers to “add any arbitrary metadata to any tweet in the system.” So, just like a tweet can today be transmitted along with information about which other tweet it was in reply to, or what location it came from, or what application it was created on, now Twitter will allow developers to make up new stuff. Twitter is looking to see how developers use Annotations before it creates any sort of taxonomy for them, Sarver said.
Lastly, Twitter is launching a central developer resource site at dev.twitter.com later today. It includes such features as documentation that’s generated from code, rather than written by hand (this won applause from the Chirp audience), a way to securely build and reference API calls, an official WatchMouse monitor for the Twitter service and a way to search across all the repositories of Twitter developer information.
You can find video of Sarver’s presentation at Justin.tv
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