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Post by Dr. Janis Heller 1.12.11 With Harvard IP and Wireless
protocols Group, Ltd
Twitter's API in the Cloud
Twitter bases its
application programming interface (API), that runs in the cloud, off the RepresentationalStateTransfer (REST) architecture.
REST architecture speaks
to to a collection of network design principles and strict rules that define resources and ways to address and access data.
Usually over the Internet...cloud.
The architecture is a design philosophy-- there's no single prearranged
sorting of computers, servers and cables. For Twitter, a REST architecture in part means that the service works with most
Web syndication formats.
Web syndication is a fairly simple idea: An application gets information
from one source and sends it out to various destinations over the cloud. There are a few syndication formats used on the Web.
Twitter is compatible with two of them -- Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and Atom
Syndication Format (Atom). Both formats retrieve data from one resource and send it to another.
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Both Web syndication formats
compatible with Twitter consist of a several lines of code. A Web page admin guy or lady can easily embed it into the code
of his or her site. Visitors can subscribe to the syndication service -- called a feed -- and receive an
update every time the administrator updates the Web page.
Twitter uses this feature to so members can post messages
to a network of other Twitter members. Basically, Twitter members subscribe to other members' feeds.
By allowing impartial third-party
developers partial access to its API, Twitter lets them create programs that use Twitter's services. Popular corporate applications
are desktop feed reader programs that let users post and retrieve messages on Twitter's network using a simple,
independent interface. Some current third-party applications include:
Twitterlicious and Twitterific,
two applications that allow users to access Twitter through desktop applications on PCs and Macs, respectively
OutTwit, a Windows application
that allows users to access Twitter through the Outlook e-mail program
which allows users to search public Twitter posts in real time using either a customized search engine or Firefox's search
Twessenger, which integrates with the Windows Live Messenger 8.1 instant
Twittervision, which brings together a Twitter feed into
the very popular Google Maps. You can interesting events go live through a world map
Flotzam, which integrates Twitter with Facebook, Flickr
iTunes to Twitter, an application for Mac computers that broadcasts the
title of the song currently playing in the user's iTunes to his or her network
a Twitter application that works inside the virtual community vof Second Life
the start, Twitter's leaders designed the service to work with the Short Message Service (SMS) protocol.
SMS allows you to send and receive text messages from a cell phone to other phones and
services like Web sites, voice-mail systems and e-mail servers. When you send a text message from your phone to Twitter, the message transmits to a mobile switching center
(MSC), which sends the signal to a signal transfer point (STP).
From there, the message goes to a short message service center (SMSC), which then sends
the text to Twitter. Twitter sends the message back out to the people in your network using the same process in reverse.
The SMS protocol has some serious
restrictions, which are the source of Twitter's shortcomings.
An SMS message has an upper limit of 160 characters
and can't include anything other than text. There are other protocols that can send more information than SMS, but, they are
not as widely supported by cell phone service providers. By limiting messages to the SMS format, Twitter is able to reach
a muc, much larger customer base.
A problem for Twitter is SMS
spoofing -- a sneaky way that allows someone to post messages from another person's cell phone number. In the pioneer
days of SMS messaging, this was fairly easy to do: Many cell phone service providers allowed people to send messages from
an online form to a cell phone.
One of the fields in the form was "from," and users could put anything
they wanted in the field.
An evil or ugly person could enter your phone number in the "from" field and
send a message to Twitter.
Your Twitter page would receive these b.s. messages -- and also all those in your network
-- as if you had for real posted them.
There aren't many sites that allow this kind of messaging these days, but
several Web pages specifically designed to spoof SMS messages have appeared. Spoofing hasn't become a big problem on Twitter
so far, but if that changes, the corporation may have to look into ways to prevent it in the future.
Twitter will also send messages over SMS to cell phones
even if you use a desktop or Web-based application to post your Tweet.
When you post your message, you tell Twitter
to send the message out to all the appropriate outlets through the syndication format.
Twitter sends the Tweet
out to the cell phones of anyone in your network who has added a cell phone number to his or her Twitter account. For other
users, the message may only appear on a Web page or in a computer desktop application.
Twitter members in the United States
can interact with the service through their cell phones by sending text messages to 40404. In Canada, the code is 21212, and in the United
Kingdom, you'll give your fingers a workout
with the code +44 7624 801423. Through text messages, you can subscribe to other members' feeds, turn off feeds, add friends
to your network or even delete your account.
Twitter's popularity is increasing
big time...every hour and each minute. While the company hasn't found a way to make cash money from its services yet, a
lot of pros believe it's only a matter of time before it finds a way to make Tweets a cash cow. Even if the service never
turns a profit, it has served as an important role in online social networking -- what many Internet pros see as the TRUE future
of the Web.