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Twitter and Tech Debt: A Cautionary Tale

Twitter and tech debt

On November 18th, activist and veteran naval intelligence officer Travis Akers ominously tweeted, “From one of the remaining Twitter employees: ‘It (Twitter) has about a week left before it’s dead.'” 

Bad intel, I guess!

Even though that didn’t turn out to be true, it captures the tweetosphere’s overall sentiments around Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover — “AhhHHhhhh!

And, yeah, it’s been… fractious. Stephen King vowed to be “gone like Enron” if Twitter instituted a monthly $20 subscription fee for blue checks, Donald Trump’s lifetime ban was lifted, and more than half of Twitter’s employees have been fired or quit since October. Practically every day, something new, exciting, shocking, and/or outrageous happens. How you choose to characterize all of it probably depends on how you feel about Elon Musk.

In one interesting, uh, episode, earlier this month, Musk publicly clashed with a Twitter developer, Eric Fronhoefer, over the app’s performance on Android devices in a series of tweets.

Ultimately, Fronhoefer blamed the performance issues, in large part, on runaway technical debt.

But these and Fronhoefer’s other replies might not have had the effect he wanted them to — since Musk summarily fired him the next morning.

What even is tech debt?

In Features-as-a-Service Is Making a Comeback for Application Development, Onymos CEO Shiva Nathan describes tech debt.

“Bringing applications to market faster is great for enterprises, but it often comes with a price: technical debt. Technical debt is incurred when additional development work is necessary to address stale or workaround code used as a short-term solution. It also typically accrues over time and becomes a major burden for developers, who need to spend precious time on code issues that should be used for innovation.”

Twitter for Android is a pretty on-the-nose case in point.

Even when things aren’t quite as bad as your boss publicly firing you via tweet, most developers have a fraught relationship with their managers over addressing tech debt. Choosing between new value-add features and far-off consequences isn’t usually much of a choice at all for tech leaders who need to keep their stakeholders happy.

So, how can teams do better? One way is to focus on framing — and to be more specific. Instead of talking about “tech debt” in general to managers or stakeholders, talk about the specific issues and how they’re impacting the user (and developer) experience.

Chief Product Officer at Color, Claire Vo, tweeted some successful real-life examples.

High velocity without the tech debt?

But it doesn’t always have to be a choice between high velocity and tech debt.

Onymos Features-as-a-Service is a pro-code platform for rapid app development created to minimize tech debt and maximize speed to market. Onymos features are drop-in solutions for app dev commodities (that is, the app features every app needs, but are always the same).

Every Onymos feature and its third-party integrations are updated and enhanced quarterly by the Onymos team to ensure they work across devices, operating systems, and the latest build environments. With Onymos, developers can focus on the business value… without the years of accumulated tech debt.

We can’t guarantee your boss still won’t fire you on Twitter one day, but if they do, it won’t be because you had to choose “velocity and features over perf.”

In the meantime, you can follow Onymos on… Twitter!

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