I have been thinking about this question a lot, and had written about half a column about it, when Keith Hanson appeared in an IM window this morning. We had a very interesting conversation about it. We agree that it would be handy to have an API, for any number of reasons, but we also agreed that we were unlikely to get one any time soon. This is both a good and a bad thing.
With an official Plurk API, it would be child’s play to do what Keith is doing with almost superhuman effort now, which is writing a Plurk client, Plurker. He is having to guess, and then research, everything that Plurk is doing. It is quite a detective novel thing that Keith is doing. And things are coming along well, much to his credit.
Still, we should not expect to see Plurk release an API in the immediate future and make Keith’s job easier. For one thing, they are still making changes in the GUI in a fairly rapid manner. In order to give us what we want, the A-Team is doing a LOT of work, resulting in a lot of new functionality. I also have a theory that Plurk got released a little early, before some of the planned functionality had been coded, in order to take advantage of Twitter’s woes. The Plurk team is nothing if not smart.
And that brings up the other major reason why I don’t think we will see an API in the extremely near future. It was after Twitter released an API, and every coder on the planet threw together a Twitter client, that the problems really started. Having a large group of undisciplined calls to one’s API is much different from having a lot of pressure placed one’s Web application, in terms of controlling the load. I think that by delaying the release of an API, Plurk is quite wisely trying to control their own destiny.
We all are seeing, right before our eyes, the near-death experience of Twitter. Plurk does not want to repeat the Twitter mistakes, and we should hope that they do not. All of us that have really come to love what Plurk does want it to continue unimpaired into the future. The A-Team will know when the time is right to release an API. I don’t want to see it rushed, while they are still giving us regular functionality prizes, and especially not if is it is going to cause performance problems.
I’m KDFrawg on Plurk. If you see me, stop and say “Hi!”