There’s an interesting article today over at Techrader that outlines some of the plans Twitter is making for the future of the platform, as provided by Alex Payne, Twitter’s API lead.

Alex Payne (@al3x)

(Image source: Techradar.)

Alex is definitely saying all the right things. On scalability:

“Hopefully we’ve already been through the catastrophe phase. Where we’re at now is very, very different; fundamental pieces of our technology have changed. We’ve built out a really robust system; it doesn’t just handle tweets, it handles every operation around the site. Whenever you’re sending a direct message, whenever you’re adding someone, whenever you’re blocking someone it goes through this system we’ve built.

We’ve pitted it against the other big enterprise grade message queue systems out there and we’ve pretty much smoked them all in terms of benchmarks.”

On the development of the tweet:

“In a perfect world we’d like every tweet to have its own key value store for whatever metadata [developers] want. In terms of implementation it’s still too far off to say when we’re going to deliver that; the majority of our team is still focused on handling the scale of the social graph.”

On the future of Twitter’s API:

“It doesn’t make sense to have apps ask us again and again ‘do you have anything new? Do you have anything new?’… Whether that’s data or changes to the social graph, it makes more sense that we push that information to them so they’re always up to date.”

On this, Twitter plans to introduce a ‘push API’ service and also to release the limit of API calls that external applications can make, which is currently set at 100 per hour per user.

On the ability to permanently delete bad tweets:

“We say in our terms of service that developers have to respect instructions to purge a tweet.”

Yet they don’t actually follow through on that themselves. Hmmm.

Alex also revealed that Twitter is going to focus more on making the service part of your online identity. You can already use your Twitter account to log on to many websites and blogs (using OAuth) and the company is going to actively pursue this, as well as making the procedure more accommodating to the non-technical minded.

“OAuth provides us with a lot of flexibility, a really great user experience and real access to security and access controls we haven’t had until this point. We’re working to make it really secure and easy enough for the least technical user to understand.”

This comment, though, is more than a little cheeky:

“On a number of services we’ve watched developers get started and then have the rug pulled from under them. They need to know ‘Is it OK to build a business on this, is it OK to retain this data?’. We’re not interested in charging for any of these developer features any time soon but we do want to make it very clear what we’re going to be providing and what you can expect from Twitter.”

As Twitter themselves have done this several times to developers in the past.

Indeed, this is the problem – Twitter has said a lot of things in its fairly brief history, and not all of them come to fruition. We’re still waiting to see what’s going to happen after the recent fiasco with @replies. Alex Payne (and recently Biz Stone) say a lot of the right things, time and again; the real question is – will they actually deliver? When are we going to see that purple cow?

In other words, we’ve heard you bark, Twitter – now when are you going to bite?