Transparency might be the word of the year, if you ask the Twittersphere. From local politics to world news, people use Twitter to find out what’s really happening—and considering the technology we have at our fingertips to apprise and be apprised, it’s never been easier to open up flows of information.
As one of the most dialed-in companies to the pulse of the people, Twitter is taking the importance of transparency to a new level this year with the launch of a public roadmap to give developers a clear look at the upcoming improvements to their API Platform.
The Twitter Public Roadmap for their API Platform is now on Trello
Beyond the technical details in the roadmap, however, is a message for how impactful (and nerve-wracking) this can be. We recently spoke with Cassie Stewart from Twitter’s product marketing team about the experience of publishing their roadmap, and how the move has influenced their development process.
Putting Developers First
This is the first time your team has made Twitter’s API platform roadmap public—and it’s stretching into early 2018. Why now?
Cassie: In 2016, we embarked on a mission to understand the goals, needs, and frustrations of our developer community better. We traveled and met thousands of developers 1-on-1. The learnings across this period were immense. We spent the latter part of 2016 and the early part of 2017 building a plan (and a few APIs) to address the needs of our community.
One of the most common requests from 2016 was for an easy and predictable way to smoothly scale access to Twitter’s APIs. What better way to provide insight into our plans for this than with a public API Platform roadmap? The transparency we provide via the roadmap enables our developer community to build on our platform with confidence.
"Our community now has more clarity to build for the future—and we have the opportunity to collect feedback early in our development cycles."
Why be so transparent about such long term initiatives? What if something changes along the way?
Cassie: We’re committed to building tools to simplify and strengthen our developer platform so that anyone building with us can confidently create and scale their applications, products, and businesses. The initiatives we’ve shared on our roadmap are those that we believe will help us achieve this commitment.
As with any product roadmap, everything is subject to change — another thing we are transparent about. When we do make changes, they will be public and tracked within the roadmap.
Taking A Roadmap Public With Trello
Why did you choose Trello?
Cassie: When we first set out to publish our API Platform roadmap, we made a list of requirements. We agreed that the tool selected should:
- Be publicly accessible
- Be in a format familiar to and easily consumed by developers
- Include space for “About this roadmap” details
- Allow for content to be easily and quickly updated
- Allow for descriptive text for each feature/product
- Track updates for each feature/product
- Include the ability for developers to subscribe to a feature/product
Trello was the solution that best met these requirements. Since launching the roadmap, we’ve been very happy with our experience and grateful for the support offered by the Trello team.
Never Underestimate The Power Of Transparency
How do you hope to see the developer ecosystem at Twitter evolve?
Cassie: Developers have been active on Twitter from our earliest days. We often hear developers say that our Twitter APIs were among their first integrations when they learned to code. Today, we support all types of developers and applications: from hobbyists and startup founders to academic researchers and enterprise software engineers.
We’ve seen developers use our APIs to predict the spread of influenza, alert city residents to flooding, model financial markets, and much more. We’re endlessly inspired and amazed by their innovation.
In terms of evolution, we recently announced that we’re planning to launch new APIs and refine existing endpoints in order to drive more innovation for businesses. We see a huge opportunity for businesses to harness the power of Twitter in all aspects of their operations—from responding to customer needs and creating delightful customer experiences to identifying emerging trends, making better products, and more.
"Since launching the roadmap, by and large the response has been positive, and has created a more open and candid landscape for conversations across our ecosystem."
How can developers make an impact with the knowledge from this roadmap?
Cassie: We hope that developers who review our roadmap will walk away with clarity and foresight to innovate on what exists and what’s to come. In understanding the scalability and new functionality included in our upcoming product launches, we hope to see developers evaluate the new opportunities for their applications and build solutions to help businesses harness the power of Twitter.
Where are you sourcing feedback from the developer ecosystem? Tweets, blog posts?
Cassie: We support several feedback loops between our team and the community — @TwitterDev among our favorites. Our developer forums provide a place for anyone to ask questions, answer questions, and provide their thoughts on where we are headed. Our advocates are listening to these conversations on a daily basis and do their best to respond to questions and feedback.
We also support our local #TapIntoTwitter communities, where developers building on Twitter can get together with others locally to share, learn, and innovate. Our product teams also conduct surveys and 1-on-1 interviews year-round to help us build the best experiences. All of these developer engagements heavily influence the direction ultimately shared in our product roadmap.
What’s a takeaway from your experiences so far with the public roadmap process that any company in any industry could benefit from?
Cassie: Never underestimate the power of transparency. Since launching the roadmap, we’ve certainly heard criticisms; however, by and large the response has been positive, and has created a more open and candid landscape for conversations across our ecosystem.
In announcing both good (new APIs) and not-so-good plans (feature deprecations), our community now has more clarity to build for the future—and we have the opportunity to collect feedback early in our development cycles.