I wouldn't blame this on JSON, because it's not JSON that has the
problems, but JavaScript. All of my Objective-C apps that communicate
use JSON as well, and they don't have the limitation. The issue does not
apply to XML either - there's no type specification in XML.

As far as I know, this issue will only cause trouble for a few
applications that work with JavaScript and depend on the IDs a lot.

My suggestion to solve this issue would be to introduce an additional
parameter (just like include_rts, just with a different name) that turns
all IDs into strings. No extra fields, just an additional optional
parameter. Won't cause trouble for the applications that can't parse it
and requires minimal implementation effort for developers.

I hope I'm not too late with my suggestion :-)


On 10/19/10 7:10 PM, Craig Hockenberry wrote:
> This approach feels wrong to me. The red flag is the duplication of
> data within the payload: in 30+ years of professional development,
> I've never seen that work out well.
> The root of the problem is that you've chosen to deliver data in a
> format (JSON) that can't support integers with a value greater than
> 2^53 bits. And some of your data uses 2^64 bits.
> The result is that you're working around the problem in a language by
> using a string. Avoiding the root problem will encumber you with
> legacy that you'll regret later.
> Look at your proposed solution from a different point-of-view: say you
> have a language that can't handle Unicode well (e.g. BASIC or Ruby.)
> Would you solve this problem by adding another field called
> "text_ascii"?
> "text": "@themattharris hey how are things in København?".
> "text_ascii": "@themattharris hey how are things in Kobenhavn?".
> Seems silly, yet that is exactly what you're doing for Javascript and
> long integers.
> A part of this legacy in your payload is future confusion for
> developers. Someone new to the Twitter API is going to be confused as
> to why your ID values have both numeric and string representations.
> And smart developers are going to lean towards the numeric
> representation:
> * 8 bytes of storage for 10765432100123456789 instead of 20 bytes.
> * Faster sorting (less data to compare.)
> * Correct sorting: "011" and "10" have different order depending on
> whether you're sorting the string or numeric representation.
> They'll eventually pay the price for choosing incorrectly.
> Every ID in the API is going to need documentation as a result. For
> example, are place IDs affected by this change? And what about the IDs
> returned by the Search API? (there's no mention of "since_id_str" and
> "max_id_str" above.)
> Losing consistency with the XML format is also a problem. Unless
> you're planning on adding _str elements to the XML payload, you're
> presenting developers with a one-way street. A consumer of JSON
> "id_str" can't  easily change the format of data they want to consume.
> In my mind, you really only have two good choices at this point:
> 1) Limit Snowflake's ID space to 2^53 bits. Easier for developers,
> harder for Twitter.
> 2) Make all Twitter IDs into strings. Easier for Twitter, harder for
> developers.
> The second choice is obviously more disruptive, but if you really need
> the ID space, it's the right one. Even if it means I need to make
> major changes to my code.
> On Oct 18, 5:19 pm, Matt Harris <thematthar...@twitter.com> wrote:
>> Last week you may remember Twitter planned to enable the new Status ID
>> generator - 'Snowflake' but didn't. The purpose of this email is to explain
>> the reason why this didn't happen, what we are doing about it, and what the
>> new release plan is.
>> So what is Snowflake?
>> ------------------------------
>> Snowflake is a service we will be using to generate unique Tweet IDs. These
>> Tweet IDs are unique 64bit unsigned integers, which, instead of being
>> sequential like the current IDs, are based on time. The full ID is composed
>> of a timestamp, a worker number, and a sequence number.
>> The problem
>> -----------------
>> Before launch it came to our attention that some programming languages such
>> as Javascript cannot support numbers with >53bits. This can be easily
>> examined by running a command similar to: (90071992547409921).toString() in
>> your browsers console or by running the following JSON snippet through your
>> JSON parser.
>>     {"id": 10765432100123456789, "id_str": "10765432100123456789"}
>> In affected JSON parsers the ID will not be converted successfully and will
>> lose accuracy. In some parsers there may even be an exception.
>> The solution
>> ----------------
>> To allow javascript and JSON parsers to read the IDs we need to include a
>> string version of any ID when responding in the JSON format. What this means
>> is Status, User, Direct Message and Saved Search IDs in the Twitter API will
>> now be returned as an integer and a string in JSON responses. This will
>> apply to the main Twitter API, the Streaming API and the Search API.
>> For example, a status object will now contain an id and an id_str. The
>> following JSON representation of a status object shows the two versions of
>> the ID fields for each data point.
>> [
>>   {
>>     "coordinates": null,
>>     "truncated": false,
>>     "created_at": "Thu Oct 14 22:20:15 +0000 2010",
>>     "favorited": false,
>>     "entities": {
>>       "urls": [
>>       ],
>>       "hashtags": [
>>       ],
>>       "user_mentions": [
>>         {
>>           "name": "Matt Harris",
>>           "id": 777925,
>>           "id_str": "777925",
>>           "indices": [
>>             0,
>>             14
>>           ],
>>           "screen_name": "themattharris"
>>         }
>>       ]
>>     },
>>     "text": "@themattharris hey how are things?",
>>     "annotations": null,
>>     "contributors": [
>>       {
>>         "id": 819797,
>>         "id_str": "819797",
>>         "screen_name": "episod"
>>       }
>>     ],
>>     "id": 12738165059,
>>     "id_str": "12738165059",
>>     "retweet_count": 0,
>>     "geo": null,
>>     "retweeted": false,
>>     "in_reply_to_user_id": 777925,
>>     "in_reply_to_user_id_str": "777925",
>>     "in_reply_to_screen_name": "themattharris",
>>     "user": {
>>       "id": 6253282
>>       "id_str": "6253282"
>>     },
>>     "source": "web",
>>     "place": null,
>>     "in_reply_to_status_id": 12738040524
>>     "in_reply_to_status_id_str": "12738040524"
>>   }
>> ]
>> What should you do - RIGHT NOW
>> ----------------------------------------------
>> The first thing you should do is attempt to decode the JSON snippet above
>> using your production code parser. Observe the output to confirm the ID has
>> not lost accuracy.
>> What you do next depends on what happens:
>> * If your code converts the ID successfully without losing accuracy you are
>> OK but should consider converting to the _str versions of IDs as soon as
>> possible.
>> * If your code has lost accuracy, convert your code to using the _str
>> version immediately. If you do not do this your code will be unable to
>> interact with the Twitter API reliably.
>> * In some language parsers, the JSON may throw an exception when reading the
>> ID value. If this happens in your parser you will need to ‘pre-parse’ the
>> data, removing or replacing ID parameters with their _str versions.
>> Summary
>> -------------
>> 1) If you develop in Javascript, know that you will have to update your code
>> to read the string version instead of the integer version.
>> 2) If you use a JSON decoder, validate that the example JSON, above, decodes
>> without throwing exceptions. If exceptions are thrown, you will need to
>> pre-parse the data. Please let us know the name, version, and language of
>> the parser which throws the exception so we can investigate.
>> Timeline
>> -----------
>> by 22nd October 2010 (Friday): String versions of ID numbers will start
>> appearing in the API responses
>> 4th November 2010 (Thursday) : Snowflake will be turned on but at ~41bit
>> length
>> 26th November 2010 (Friday) : Status IDs will break 53bits in length and
>> cease being usable as Integers in Javascript based languages
>> We understand this isn’t as seamless a transition as we had planned and
>> appreciate for some of you this change requires an update to your code.
>> We’ve tried to give as much time as possible for you to make the migration
>> and update your code to use the new string representations.
>> Our own products and tools are affected by the change and we will be making
>> available any pre-parsing snippets we have created to ensure code continues
>> to work with the new IDs.
>> Thanks for your support and understanding.
>> ---
>> @themattharris
>> Developer Advocate, Twitterhttp://twitter.com/themattharris

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