Instagram API changes and the winding down of Pic Puller
Here’s the short story. Pic Puller for Craft CMS version 3 will be available for current users until the end of 2019. Pic Puller will be removed from sale from the Craft CMS Plugin Store to prevent further sales as this version of the plugin. This will give current users over 6 months to plan a transition.
Regarding future plans, there may be a future Instagram integration for Craft but, it is dependent on Facebook. The Facebook team has focused its Instagram API development efforts on Business Accounts only. The current, non-deprecated version of the API does not support non-business users, which has been the focus of Pic Puller.
Some history of Pic Puller
Pic Puller for Craft is the plugin for Craft CMS that acts as a gateway to the Pic Puller Instagram application. The plugin provides Twig variables for use in templates, a field type for Craft, and dashboard widgets.
The Github repo for the plugin is here.
Pic Puller, the Instagram app itself, is an approved Instagram application, meaning I’ve taken it through Facebook’s application review process to received authorized access to the Instagram API.
The website that serves as the homepage for the plugin, https://picpuller.com also serves as the API endpoint for the Instagram app. The Craft plugin hits an endpoint at the site which Instagram sees as an authorized endpoint to handle authorization.
The news from Facebook
On April 30, 2019, Facebook announced a new way to calculate rate limits for all Facebook apps. The API announcement is a post for which comments are disabled. I was hoping to see how other developers were reacting to this news.
The API rate limit changes will affect all apps “starting July 29, 2019.” Facebook had previously announced the end of the v1 of the Instagram API would happen in “early 2020” preceded by a replacement API for basic access for non-business accounts in “early 2019.” The replacement API has not emerged as of May 6.
The new API limit changes impact the development of Pic Puller, an app I’ve built and maintained since 2011.
API changes and planning for the future
As the API rules changed over the years, Pic Puller adapted by changing the types of requests it would make. I removed features, changed authorization methods, submitted to app review, etc.
My goal was always to make Pic Puller a good citizen in the Facebook ecosystem. The penalties for violating the API rules were entirely up to Facebook. Unauthorized API use or violating Facebook’s rules could have gotten the app’s access revoked for all users. The worst-case scenario would have been having a user’s account suspended.
Facebook announced the Instagram API v1 was deprecated in early 2018. A replacement for the API had been promised in “early 2019” for non-business users. The full termination of the API v1 is scheduled for “early 2020.” I felt that gave me the time and space to continue development of Pic Puller.
The latest rate-limit update plus the lack of progress on a promised replacement API end-point for non-business Instagram accounts leaves me little room to maneuver when it comes to Pic Puller development.
The API announcement, available at this link, is as follows:
The Instagram account rate limit now uses a new Business Use Case rate limiting system for Instagram Graph API. This new limit is determined by analyzing the number of impressions on the Instagram account. Please note that your rate limit will no longer be determined by the number of users on the app. If the app is owned by a business, it has its own ratio limit quota that is not shared with other apps accessing the same Instagram account. If an app is not owned by a business, the quota of the Instagram account will be shared by all apps. These changes apply to v3.3+, and will apply to all versions starting July 29, 2019.
The winding down
This new deadline of July 29, 2019, combined with no public progress on the API endpoint for non-business users has put me in a no-win situation. I can not work on a transition for current users to an API that I don’t have access to.
Current Pic Puller users will continue to have access to the app through the end of the year. I will leave the authorization service up for all of 2019.
New purchases of the app will be stopped so that all paid users will have at least 6 months to use the app while considering options for the future.
Depending on your needs, other Instagram plugins that might fit your needs for use with Craft CMS. None seems to use the Instagram API as far as I can tell.
If you’ve used Pic Puller over the years, thank you for your support. I’ve enjoyed talking with many of you who’ve reached out to me. The shutting down of Pic Puller does not mean I’m leaving Craft behind. You’ll still find me in the Craft Discord community and in the newsletter for Craft I publish, Craft Link List.
Archival screenshots of announcements
The Facebook announcement links can change over time, so I’ve attached screenshots below for posterity.