Fri, 12 Jun 2009

Net::Twitter Roadmap

Recently, I became the maintainer of Net::Twitter.

Net::Twitter 3.01 is a complete rewrite using Moose. It uses Moose Roles heavily to provide optional features, API support, and a choice of error handling strategies. There is also a legacy role, Net::Twitter::Role::Legacy, to provide transparent backwards compatibility with version 2.12. The legacy role is applied by default, so aside from new dependencies, a CPAN upgrade should be completely transparent to existing users.

Version 3.01 comes with some new features:

  • full coverage of the Twitter REST API, including the new saved_searches methods
  • OAuth support
  • optional, exception based error handling

And 3.02 will include an enhancement to the OAuth support for desktop applications. (Twitter made a recent change for OAuth desktop apps requiring the use of a PIN# to obtain access tokens.) A developer release was uploaded to CPAN today including that change. If no bugs are reported, 3.02 will roll out shortly.

A new feature under consideration is inflation of Twitter API responses to Perl objects, rather than simple HASH refs. So, $status->{user}->{screen_name} becomes $status->user->screen_name . And status->created_at may return a DateTime object. Some feedback from the Net::Twitter users on this would be appreciated.

My primary goal for the rewrite was ease of maintenance so that I could respond quickly to the ever changing Twitter API specification. I accomplished much of that goal with Net::Twitter::API. It extends Moose with some sugar so that Twitter API methods are described with a declarative syntax.

The API methods themselves, declared in Net::Twitter::Role::API::REST and the other API::* modules, are dynamically generated. POD for the API methods is also dynamically generated by introspecting the Moose meta data. Even some of the tests are dynamically generated in the same way.

So, when Twitter adds, removes, or changes API methods, there should be little work to do as a maintainer to get a new release prepared, tested, and distributed.

There are many Net::Twitter 2.12 users who will be dismayed by the Moose requirement. Not every one can install Moose and its dependencies, even if they want to. Shared hosting systems, for instance, may not allow installation of arbitrary modules. There are also Net::Twitter users who have created plugins and distribute the module with their applications. They want a module with limited dependencies.

Net::Twitter::Lite was created to serve those users. It does not have all the features and flexibility Net::Twitter does, but it is lean and has no more requirements than Net::Twitter version 2.12. In addition, its API methods and documentation are generated from the Net::Twitter 3.x source. So, an API change can be quickly and reliably propagated to Net::Twitter::Lite.

For those who need Net::Twitter::Lite, the move from Net::Twitter 2.12 is fairly painless, and instructions are included with the module.

Net::Twitter::Lite will get optional OAuth support, soon.

Transparent backwards compatibility is the default in Net::Twitter 3.01. That may change in a future version, but only after a reasonable deprecation plan is communicated to users.

Many thanks to Chris Thompson who authored the original version of Net::Twitter and maintained it through version 2.12.

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