Colm Doyle A Developer Relations professional in Dublin, Ireland.

What does co-pilot know that the rest of us don't?

I write pretty much all the content on this site using VSCode, and for various reasons I have GitHub Copilot enabled in the editor. As I was writing my most recent post about the shenanigans at Twitter, co-pilot offered an auto-complete I wasn’t expecting to be so detailed:

GitHub co-pilot

What does GitHub know that the rest of us don’t? 🤣

Twitter Intentionally Ends Third-Party App Developer Access to Its APIs

John Voorhees, writing for MacStories:

Twitter’s actions also show a total lack of respect for the role that third-party apps have played in the development and success of the service from its earliest days. Twitter was founded in 2006, but it wasn’t until the iPhone launched about a year later that it really took off, thanks to the developers who built the first mobile apps for the service.

The prevailing wisdom is now all pretty lined up behind the notion that Twitter has intentionally revoked API access for the major third party Twitter clients, as I discussed earlier in the week.

I would say this whole debacle is a masterclass in how not to do Developer Relations, but as far as I know, none of the Twitter DevRel team are still at the company. Regardless, as the linked article says, Twitter has always had a pretty rough relationship with people building third party apps for the service, despite those apps being critical to the service’s growth and success.

And not only that, but those same apps are frequently excellent examples of iOS development. It’s probably not widely known outside the iOS developer community, but “Pull to Refresh”, the UX pattern whereby you pull down on a list to update it, was first introduced by Twitter before it was eventually adopted by Apple as a de-facto iOS standard.

I’m still not sure if Mastodon is going to be the new Twitter, but moves like this where you alienate your most passionate users and developers are not going to help Twitter’s case. Especially when you do it in such a manifestly disrespectful and unprofessional manner.

Tech early adopters might not be the largest percentage of users on Twitter anymore, but they built it into the service it is today, and they can be the ones to rip it all down too. Elon Musk would be minded to remember that.

Some third party Twitter client apps appear to be removed from the service

Mitchell Clark, reporting for The Verge:

Some third-party Twitter clients such as Twitterific and Tweetbot appear to be experiencing an outage, though the cause is currently unclear. Developers haven’t received any communication from the company about whether the issue is caused by a bug or something else, according to a Mastodon post from Paul Haddad, one of Tweetbot’s creators.

After my positive experience with Ivory of late, and the truly awful new home screen experience that Twitter is currently rolling out to iOS users, I was considering switching to Tweetbot, but I guess I’ll hold off for now.

It’s reasonable to suggest that this is just a minor glitch and when San Francisco starts to wake up it’ll be resolved, but it seems coincidental in the extreme that a bug would occur that appears to only impacts the most popular third party Twitter clients just as they’re rolling out a new home screen experience that introduces an algorithmic feed which has historically been resisted by a decent chunk of Twitter power users.

Microsoft introduces a new "Discretionary Time Off" policy

Tom Warren reporting for The Verge:

Microsoft certainly isn’t the first big tech company to adopt unlimited time off. Salesforce, Microsoft-owned LinkedIn, Oracle, and Netflix all offer similar unlimited time off policies for employees.

Let’s be 100% clear on something. Flexible / Discretionary / Unlimited time off, or whatever you call it is a scam. It’s often perceived as a benefit to the employee, but it’s really a benefit to the company and it really needs to be called out as such.

It creates situations where instead of time off being something that you earn and can bank towards a balance, every request is an imposition on your team, versus a clear cut entitlement. It makes your time off almost entirely at the discretion of your manager, and we’ve all had shitty managers. Having the confidence to tell your manager you’re taking your 30th or 35th day off is great, and I applaud you, but you can imagine how a discretionary policy makes those requests a lot harder for most people, especially traditionally underrepresented groups.

But when you have an ever increasing balance of days off, it creates a real signal to you, your manager and your organisation that you should take time off. And that creates a culture where time off is healthy, almost an obligation to be met.

Time off is a monetary benefit, treat it as such

Unlimited Time Off is 100% a balance sheet benefit to the company, as they don’t have to pay out accrued time off when an employee leaves. You’ll find that in most companies with these policies, the contracts of employment, which are really what matters at the end of the day, will be crystal clear on this point. You’ll only accrue the minimum required by law, and not a minute more.

Salesforce in Ireland used to have a policy called “Holiday Buy Back”, where you could sacrifice a day’s salary to buy a day off. When I pointed out it should be more accurately just called “unpaid time off”, I could almost hear the confusion coming from HR. So trust me when I tell you, your company considers time off in financial terms, and you absolutely should too.

If not unlimited, then what?

There’s at least two alternatives in my mind that are better than unlimited time off.

First off, give, you know, actually very generous time off balances. And make them consistent globally. So basically, if as a company, you’d expect a median of 28 days off under an unlimited time policy, then just make that the allowance.

The second, and better way in my mind is Minimum Time Off. All the benefits of unlimited, but without the downsides. Codify a generous minimum, and then let people take more if they want.

When I’ve been a manager at companies with unlimited time off, I have always implemented it as a minimum time off policy. I tell my team that I expect that by the end of the year, everyone has taken at least 25 days off, and that if we get to mid November and people are short of that, I’m going to be sending them home.

So if you’re a manager in a company with “unlimited” policies, I’d encourage you to take a similar approach to me, but always remember to advocate for the policy to fixed org wide, because it’s a better policy for everyone.

Tapbots share a roadmap for their Mastodon client, Ivory

I’ve been using Ivory as my main Mastodon client on iOS for the last week or two, and it’s very polished given that it’s still consider alpha/beta. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, given that it’s from the same team that makes Tweetbot, but it’s still nice to see.

I will say that it’s a much more Twitter-esque way of consuming Mastodon, which won’t be for everyone, but for those of us with one foot in each ecosystem, it does make it a bit easier to switch between the two.