In June of 2010, Twitter will be permanently disabling basic authentication in favor of the OAuth protocol for authentication. For WordPress plugins which make use of the Twitter API (Application Programming Interface), this is a change which will have significant repercussions.
The specific repercussion will be that every implementation of a plugin will need to be registered with Twitter as a separate application.
This means that the development of WP to Twitter will need to move in a slightly different direction. After pondering a bit, I’m left with four plausible choices:
- Let the plugin die
- Implement OAuth for the plugin
- Build a pass-through web service to act as an application interface with Twitter
- Associate with a 3rd party web service in the same capacity
These all have downsides, obviously — but I want to lay out my thoughts on each possibility and I’m asking for comments from the users of my plugin on their preference.
Death of WP to Twitter
Although it’s not really my favorite option, I have to acknowledge that it’s plausible. It’s certainly the easy answer — maintaining an even moderately popular WordPress plugin is a lot of free labor. I already spend more time on maintaining than I really should, from a financial perspective, and this may push it over the edge.
This would be a fair amount of work for me, although not insurmountable. The real downside to it would be how much work it would be for users — every one of you would have to register one application with Twitter for every site where you installed the plugin. With one site, this may not be a big deal — but I know it could be a real pain for people with more than that.
It’s not without some potential advantages, of course – when you’re registering your own application, you could customize the application name, the home URL (Uniform Resource Locator) for the application, etc.
Build a pass-through service
One way around the Oauth mess is for me to build a separate service which would handle actually connecting to Twitter. WP to Twitter would authenticate with that service, and pass the post off to Twitter. Again, this would be a lot of work — but, more significantly, it would involve some definite expenses.
I’ve been happy to maintain this plugin for not-much-better than free, but when it comes to incurring expenses, I start to feel a bit unexcited. It’s not like WP to Twitter is a commercially viable business, and I have expectations of profit from it — but I’d prefer not to find myself going into the hole because of it. I’d probably need to see an increase in donations to make this feasible.
Use a 3rd Party Service
Obviously, if I can build a service to connect with Twitter, so can somebody else. This is almost certainly the easiest solution which keeps the plugin usable — but it does mean creating a dependency on a 3rd party to keep the plugin functioning. Depending on Twitter is just natural; obviously, if Twitter goes away, the point of the plugin is lost. Depending on somebody else is something I’m less certain of, on the whole. There’s a reason, after all, that the plugin allows for use of URLs without an external shortener.
Give me your thoughts
This is very important to me — I want to know what direction you’d like to see WP to Twitter go. Please let me know! Do you know another solution? Do tell!
And if there are no responses…well, that has a pretty obvious meaning as well.