Google Docs does Twitter

I’ve just been futzing around with Google Documents (namely Google Spreadsheets in this instance) to figure out how far one can go in creating Twitter in a Google spreadsheet.  While intellectually enjoyable for me, it would also provide a way of viewing Twitter updates in places where Twitter was banned.

The investigation came courtesy of a tweet from @davebriggs and a reply from @lesteph, each in response to Elliott Kember’s Spreadtweet.

So far, I’ve only managed to replicate the publicly-available feed of a single person.  For want of a better subject, I chose @stephenfry as my proverbial guinea pig.  And here’s the result.

It’s simply a list of the 20 most recent tweets from the subject of choice.  Put the feed URL in C1 and the 20 tweets automatically appear.  The page is best viewed in list view as per the link, but go back to spreadsheet view to see the logic, if that floats your boat.

The annoying thing is that unlike your standard, public-facing URLs (e.g. http://twitter.com/stephenfry), the RSS feed URLs are rubbish (in this case http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/15439395.rss).  So there’s no way that I’m aware of, apart from navigating via Twitter, of predicting a feed’s URL from the user’s name.

Also, the feed doesn’t seem to update live as new tweets come through.  I’ll find out in the morning whether it’s static (and therefore nigh-on useless), or whether it is merely a little behind in picking up users’ more recent tweets.

Next step, we’ll try to aggregate a bunch of users’ tweets into a single feed to replicate what might be a user’s Twitter homepage.

Update: here’s a slightly hacked feed of four Twitterers’ last 20 posts.  The way in which Google’s CONTINUE formula works sucks.The way in which an undefined number of cells relies on the value of the IMPORTFEED function makes artistic use of it difficult to say the least.

Update: the feeds don’t replicate live in Google Spreadsheets, but they do update.  (Refreshing the spreadsheet at 8.30am gave me tweets up to 6.30am.)  This is gonna be big!  Next steps: figure out how to automatically get the RSS feed address from a twitter name; and scale to n names rather than the four currently catered for.  FTW!

Comments

One Response to “Google Docs does Twitter”

  1. Francis Shanahan on April 16th, 2009 05:43

    Uh..doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that random number before the RSS is your userid and then a leap of faith to think that maybe the good engineers at Twitter thought wouldn’t it be good to make that interchangeable with your username and then trying it and you will find that http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/15439395.rss
    and http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/stephenfry.rss
    are…the…same.

Leave a Reply