Karan Sharma

Ramblings on tech, cycling, and finance

09 December 2021

Breaking Software and Getting Older

Recently, I'd posted on Twitter that my feed has become messy overtime. Maybe I followed some accounts that were of no interest, maybe Twitter's algos don't really know what to show to me. Whatever, I wanted a fresh start. And, I've done this in past. I've removed all the accounts that I follow but they don't follow me back. This little trick is helpful to start afresh while still not offending your friends ;)


I'd written a really simple Python script to do the job! It looks like:

import tweepy

SCREEN_NAME = 'mrkaran_'

auth = tweepy.OAuthHandler(CONSUMER_KEY, CONSUMER_SECRET)
auth.set_access_token(ACCESS_TOKEN, ACCESS_TOKEN_SECRET)
api = tweepy.API(auth)

followers = api.followers_ids(SCREEN_NAME)
friends = api.friends_ids(SCREEN_NAME)

for f in friends:
    if f not in followers:
        print("Unfollow {0}?".format(api.get_user(f).screen_name))

I'd last ran this in 2019 or so. That is dinosaur ages in the world of software. All I wanted to do was run this goddamn script again, 2 years later. Seems to be too much of an ask? Apparently tweepy the library used here to interact with Twitter's APIs had a major release with lots of breaking changes. They've internally migrated to start using v2 Twitter API. So, when I naively ran pip install tweepy, my code threw:

❯ python main.py    
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/home/karan/Code/Personal/twitter-unfollow/main.py", line 13, in <module>
    followers = api.followers_ids(SCREEN_NAME)
AttributeError: 'API' object has no attribute 'followers_ids'

So, some method name changed. But that's not all. The whole auth process including the initialisation of the API object changed as well. I'd spent some ~15 minutes grokking the docs but frustrated because 1) I don't give a shit about v2/v1 APIs. 2) I just want to carry on with whatever I was doing. Why is this shit taking more time than I can care to give this to?

I'd have cared enough if it was a side-project I maintained or something that I used daily. A utility like this which gets used once in a couple of years, will see more such breaking changes in future. Why, then should I spend migrating to v2 APIs, when after 2 years, v3 APIs would have broken my code again? What is the damn point? Why can't software just keep working without troubling their users?

In the end, I just installed the last version that works with v1 APIs and ran the script.

I get breaking changes, I totally do. And I've no qualms with Tweepy. They did what they had to, in order to be compatible with v2. I am just angry/sad at the whole ecosystem of "Move fast, break things".

Please. Slow. Down.

So that the rest of us who have a life can enjoy it and not spend an entire weekend migrating across versions!