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.