Mixed messages: After API lockdowns, Twitter announces Bootstrap 2.1

bootstrap logoAfter a tense announcement and even tenser silence from Twitter regarding stricter API regulations, developers were told last week what exactly would be happening. To summarize, apps seen as Twitter client alternatives are being targeted; they can only grow to so many users, they can only make so many API calls, and they can only know so much. The biggest take away from the announcement was that Twitter is erring toward the vague, keeping its cards as close to the chest as possible, and that developers will have to play a bit of a guessing game to keep the company happy.

The sentiments from third-party Twitter developers about all this range from slighted to outraged. Which is why, in light of the recent changes and Twitter’s tsk-tsk tone, its latest announcement is a bit of a surprise. Yesterday Twitter unveiled Bootstrap 2.1, its open source framework for Web developers.

twitter and bootstrap“With Bootstrap 2.1, we focused on simplicity. We completely overhauled the documentation to make it easier for people just getting to know Bootstrap and Web development,” Twitter explains via blog post. “We placed more emphasis on live examples and succinct, thorough text to walk people through each aspect. And, as is the case with every release, we’ve added a handful of new features and made existing ones even better. But that just brushes the surface: we’ve closed over 100 issues in Bootstrap 2.1 – issues all reported and documented by the very folks who use it.”

There are a lot of very pro-developer messages Twitter’s sending with this post. From talking about how “amazed” the team is by what Boostrap has been used to do (mentioning this NASA project, the Rdio powered SoundReady, and the Digital Government initiative from the White House) and pointing out how much the Bootstrap community means to its growth, this is a well-timed announcement on Twitter’s part.

In reality, Bootstrap was built by two head Twitter developers, but it’s a development tool for the open Web – not for Twitter. It has GitHub to thank for much of its popularity and growth as well. It’s affiliated by Twitter, which gave its developers the resources they needed to build it. There’s no mistaking that Bootstrap has become a very important platform, and that Twitter’s to thank for its origins. But don’t confuse what’s happening here as a change of heart for its own platform’s outside devs.

The details surrounding the API changes remain fuzzy, though decidedly far more strict than when the site first launched. Twitter remains incredibly active regarding the open source Web movement, however, and it’s quite possible there are conflicting ideas about how to run the platform within the company – engineers and board members aren’t always going to see eye-to-eye, and making money and making a platform aren’t always going to line up.