Sunday, June 16, 2013

No More Twitter RSS Feeds

I like to aggregate most of the social media content that I want to see (blog posts, forum posts, certain Twitter timelines) in one place. Before its announced (and impending) demise, that was Google Reader. Of late it has been Netvibes. The key is that, in both places, I obtain content via RSS feeds. I have a separate Twitter client, but prefer that a few "important" Twitter feeds be included in my RSS reader. The reason is that I regularly check the RSS reader for new content, but I check the Twitter client extremely sporadically. (If anyone needs proof that I'm not a teenager, the preceding sentence should suffice.)

Much of the world, myself included, subscribes to the mantra that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Unfortunately, software developers have a different mantra: "if it ain't broke, it needs more features". Throw in possibly some concerns over security and/or a desire to assert more control, and you arrive at Twitter's recent decision to do away with RSS feeds. They retired version 1.0 of their API and replaced it with version 1.1, which supports JSON only (no XML, no RSS, no anything else). Quoting their developer site:
Consequently, we've decided to discontinue support for XML, Atom, and RSS, which are infrequently used today.
If you're curious about the definition of "infrequently used", I suggest you monitor Twitter, tech forums and the blogosphere for the ensuing howls of outrage by those of us "infrequent users" whose feeds are now broken.

If you have a web site (for instance, a blog) on which you provide users an RSS feed to your Twitter account, you will need to replace that. If your site contains a widget displaying recent posts from your Twitter account, and if it used XML or RSS, it will be frozen in time (or broken) until you replace it with a newer widget. If, like me, you used RSS feeds to read other accounts, you will also need to find an alternative.

Netvibes recommends installing the updated version of their Twitter widget, but that's not an option I fancy. The Twitter widget is apparently a full-fledged Twitter client embedded in the Netvibes dashboard, and the last thing I need is another Twitter client to ignore (see first paragraph). Happily, there is at least one other option available: the aptly named Twitter RSS site. (Hat tip to Social Media Slant, which is where I found out about the site.) Twitter RSS, which is apparently not a site owned by Twitter, is a free service that is extremely simple to use. Type in the Twitter handle (minus the "@" symbol) for the account you want to follow, and they will supply you with a URL that provides an RSS feed for that account.

So I've replaced my original Twitter RSS links in Netvibes with links provided by Twitter RSS, and now I just need to sit down and catch up on my reading. (It took me a few days to get around to addressing the problem, and you know how fast stuff piles up on Twitter.) I have no idea who is behind Twitter RSS, how long they will be around, or how long it will take the "infrequent users" of RSS to overwhelm their servers, but for now we at least have an option.

Update: The Twitter RSS web site is gone -- the domain name lease seems to have expired. I've found another possible solution, described here.

15 comments:

  1. Just gave it a try, but got this message.
    Service Temporarily Unavailable. Please try again later.
    Does your Feed still work?

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    Replies
    1. Interesting. I get the same thing with Twitter accounts that have updated since yesterday (it was working yesterday). With accounts that have not had a new post lately, I get the correct time line. Their home page is also working. Might be a server problem. Might be that Twitter decided to block them (?).

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    2. Update: TwitterRSS has been pretty reliable over the past week.

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  2. Replies
    1. You're welcome. I've been getting some timeline updates on some of the RSS feeds I set up with Twitter RSS, but it's been a bit spotty, and I've found extraneous ads scattered among them. Some of the ads seem to be offers to sell the Twitter RSS server scripts, but others seem totally irrelevant. So I'm not sure if the Twitter RSS service will turn out to be a viable solution.

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  3. I used this 2 days ago, then today the TwitterRSS URL goes to:
    http://www.elegantthemes.com/

    I need TwitterRSS back nooooooo

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    Replies
    1. Same here. It passes through bit.ly on the way to elegantthemes.com; I'm not sure of the significance of that (if any). Time will tell whether this is a temporary server-under-reconstruction issue or whether the TwitterRSS service is gone.

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  4. Paul-

    If you have access to a server that is running PHP, another option is Tweetledee. It supports user timelines, user favorites, tweet search, and home timelines. I am working on files for user lists that should be available later today. It is free, MIT licensed and available on GitHub.

    Full documentation with use examples is here:
    http://chrissimpkins.github.io/tweetledee

    Hope that it helps. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions (@pixsied on Twitter)

    Best,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Chris! I used to have access to a server (or two), but I'm not sure I can bum space on one these days. I'll have to check into it ...

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  5. twitter-rss.com is gone for sure.
    I am using rss4twitter.appspot.com - it appears to work fine. However they seem to be under heavy load as per the note posted on their home-page.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tip. Until someone figures out a way to commercialize this sort of service, or a big player steps in to fill the void (Google, do you read this blog?), my guess is that attempts to provide a public Twitter JSON to RSS conversion will get slammed as soon as they're discovered. Unless, of course, Twitter extracts its corporate head from its corporate alimentary canal and restores RSS.

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  6. Guy - you could try the twitter to rss service at http://twss.55uk.net/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! My Twitter-RSS feeds were updating (although possibly a bit sporadically), but Inoreader was complaining about borked XML files, and links to the original posts were not working. I just switched to "Twitter to RSS", and the feeds seem to be pretty reliable, at least so far (knock on virtual wood).

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  7. I followed this. Works like a charm and I don't have to rely on someone whose website goes down.

    http://www.labnol.org/internet/twitter-rss-feeds/27931/
    http://tt-rss.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2229

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I'd come across the first link before, but not the second. It's good to know that it's working for you. I just got done switching my RSS feeds to "Twitter to RSS", and that's working well (at least for now). If they become unreliable, I think I'll try a Google script next.

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