It’s about ads y’all

Listen... do you smell something?CNBC: “Flock is part of Twitter’s push to transition from a place where people go to tweet, to an infrastructure and ad supplier for mobile apps.”

Oh boy.

I can imagine the conversation inside Twitter:

“I know, let’s create the worlds best open communications platform.”

“Naw, let’s make an ad network. People will love it!”

Welcome to the Free Web.

#twitter Business Design Development Social

Twitter Display Guidelines

A wonderful boquet of flowers.In the wake of the new Twitter 1.1 API changes announcement I thought I’d focus my attention on the Twitter Developer Display Guidelines so I can understand the changes I’ll see to my favorite Twitter client; Twitterrific.

The guidelines will make our Twitter experience more consistent, boy howdy. Basically every Twitter client will look pretty much the same or it won’t be allowed to use the Twitter API, and a client that can’t use the API is useless.

Please note, if you’re using a Twitter provided client, these rules don’t apply, so you have nothing to worry about.

How do the various clients display Tweets in the Timeline? See the Timelines section in Display Guidelines.


Twitterrific is my favorite client because it’s darned simple, great UX and UI design. Twitterrific is unique amongst the three clients we’ll examine because it shows a reply icon in every tweet. Note the arrow in the lower right corner of the image. Tapping on that icon will display a menu of choices that includes Reply, Direct Message, Retweet, and Retweet with Comment. Not even Twitter’s native iOS client provides this functionality.

Twitterrific: What needs fixing?

I use the term fixing loosely. Here is a list of the rules Twitterrific breaks, according to the Display Guidelines.

  1. Tweet Author
    • The user’s name and @username should be displayed on one line, with the name first.
    • If the Tweet being displayed is a Retweet, the name of the user who Retweeted it and the Retweet icon must be displayed under the Tweet text. e.g. “Retweeted by Josh Brewer”. The name should link to the the Retweeting user’s profile [1].

The @username doesn’t appear in the tweet and the retweeted by text doesn’t show below the tweet. It’s not seen here, but the retweet text displays to the right of the users name. One of the great things about Twitterrific is how it displays tweets in different colors depending on the context of the tweet. I’m not sure how Twitter will feel about that, but the guideline doesn’t call it out.

That’s not so bad, but it does mean Iconfactory will need to fix some things.


Tweetbot: What needs fixing?

  1. Tweet Author
    • The user’s name and @username should be displayed on one line, with the name first.
    • The avatar must be positioned to the left of the name, @username, and Tweet text.
  2. Timestamps
    • Tweet timestamp should be displayed in the top right corner.
    • If the Tweet being displayed is a Retweet, the name of the user who Retweeted it and the Retweet icon must be displayed under the Tweet text. e.g. “Retweeted by Josh Brewer”. The name should link to the the Retweeting user’s profile [1].

Tapbots has a bit of work. In most cases the users avatar is displayed in the proper position, unless its your tweet, then it’s on the right. That’s an easy fix for them. Once that is fixed the timestamp will move to the proper position in the upper right corner. The Retweets item is interesting. The rule states it should display the name of the user who retweeted it. Tweetbot does that, sort of. If the retweet was by you it displays “Retweeted by You”, which doesn’t fit the rule to the letter.


Twitter: What needs fixing?

    • If the Tweet being displayed is a Retweet, the name of the user who Retweeted it and the Retweet icon must be displayed under the Tweet text. e.g. “Retweeted by Josh Brewer”. The name should link to the the Retweeting user’s profile [1].

Not surprisingly Twitter does the best job of following the rules, but they do break this one. In the Twitter iOS client a retweet icon is display in the upper right hand corner of the tweet and the user’s name isn’t displayed.

Random Note

In the Individual Tweet section under the Branding bullet point this is listed.

The Twitter logo or Follow button for the Tweet author must always be displayed in the top right corner.

Emphasis on the word Tweet is mine. Twitter didn’t coin the term “Tweet”, the fine folks at Iconfactory did.



It’s not all bad

Dave Winer: “Bottom-line: Twitter is selling their channel to advertisers. They need to prove to them that they have control of how their messages will be seen. I don’t think any of what they’re doing is stupid or evil or misguided. However, it might not work. It might not turn out to be the big value in what they’ve built at Twitter. But it certainly is one theory.

The good news is that as Twitter focuses, and pulls back, and makes their product smaller — this will create space for new things to blossom and possibly flourish. So it’s a good time to be thinking about and doing new things.”

Emphasis is mine. I like this take on it. It’s not evil or misguided, but it will ultimately hurt many businesses. I’d imagine the free lunch is over for third parties, but there is always hope in something new.

Tapbots Blog [Paul Haddad]: “There’s been a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt generated by Twitter’s latest announcement. I wanted to let everyone know that the world isn’t ending, Tweetbot for Mac is coming out soon, Tweetbot for iOS isn’t going anywhere. So sit down, grab a towel and let’s go over some of these API changes.”

Watch out! It's a blog fly!As Twitter has evolved it’s become more of a place for movie stars and corporations to sale their wares. That’s ok. The good news is we have a lot of power. We can choose to tap, or click, the Unfollow button for people, or companies, that start to annoy us. If things get too darned annoying in the new model people will leave, and that should send a clear message. In the end Twitter has to make money or it will cease to exist, which is a definite possibility.

There are already alternatives blooming, as Dave likes to say, so buckle up and hold on. It’s going to be an interesting ride.

Business iOS Mac Mobile

Are Third Party Twitter Clients Doomed?

Things aren’t looking good for Twitter clients, I know, I’m reading a lot into it, but it sure looks bad.

Last night Gedeon Maheux of Iconfactory posted this on Twitter.

This morning he followed up with this choice tweet.

It really reads like Twitter is shutting the door on third party clients that display a stream.

This bothers me for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I’m a fan of Iconfactory’s work and they’ve done nothing but contribute great work to the Mac and iOS community for years.

I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

Long live Ollie.

Business Social

Twitter Cards

All Things D, by Mike Isaac: “This was a big deal. Countless numbers of smaller start-ups rely on access to Twitter’s public-facing feed, using the tweets in their own businesses for any number of reasons. If the terms of access were to be altered significantly, it could impact the livelihoods of thousands. The company didn’t elaborate on what exactly those guidelines would be, and has said little else since. The key takeaway echoed in one repeated word: Consistency. Twitter’s future plans strove for consistency across the platform.”

I had started a post to talk about where I thought Twitter was headed, but there’s no need to finish it. Mike Isaac did a great job in his article, and can actually write. It’s better to stick with the pros.

I wonder where this is all headed, given the Delivering a consistent Twitter experience post June 29:

“Related to that, we’ve already begun to more thoroughly enforce our Developer Rules of the Road with partners, for example with branding, and in the coming weeks, we will be introducing stricter guidelines around how the Twitter API is used.”

If cards are a future piece to the Twitter puzzle and they’re after a consistent user experience where does that leave third party client developers? Has Twitter made contact with them to share how they should proceed with their implementation of Twitter Cards?

The Ugly Option

I still believe there is a slight chance Twitter could pull the plug on all third party clients, but I hope not. This would give Twitter full control over all clients and allow them to kill off all their native clients and go straight for HTML in the browser.

This is, of course, a horrible idea. HTML on mobile is still disgusting, slow, and provides a horrible user experience. Why go that route?

The Compromise

Twitter could be a real standup citizen and provide third party clients with guidelines for the inclusion of Twitter Cards, and other options, in client applications. They could also provide an expected timeline for inclusion of these features and allow the clients to operate without the new feature until that date. When the date expires and the client doesn’t include the new feature implemented in a Twitter approved way, they’re cut off until they are compliant.

If you’re interested you can read about Twitter Cards on the Twitter Developers site.


What, No Fail Whale?

Twitter is offline; Thursday, July 26, 2012, 8:30AM(PST)

What happened to the Fail Whale?


What Does That Mean?

The Verge: “He said that instead of wanting companies who “build off Twitter,” he prefers “a world where people build into Twitter” (emphasis ours).”

All this talk around building inside, and becoming a hub for events? Sounds like the MySpace mistake.

I wonder if they’re going to use Posterous as the engine to help people build inside Twitter?

Does building inside mean writing lowest common denominator HTML? Ick. With all the power we have in the palm of our hands why use it to make a less than stellar web based experience. Oh, right, it worked for Facebook.

Here’s hoping, once again, they don’t kill off third party clients.

How To Social

Updating Twitter from a Facebook RSS feed

Last November Eureka Burger opened a new store in San Luis Obispo and I wanted to keep up to date on events, so I searched for them on Twitter. No luck. They didn’t have a Twitter account, but they did have a Facebook page.


Since I knew I could publish to Twitter from the excellent ifttt using an RSS feed I setup an Unofficial Eureka Burger SLO Twitter account, @EurekaBurgerSLO. A few clicks to create a Recipe on ifttt and the account was up and running.

Enter Facebook Timelines

When Facebook switched on the new Timeline feature the RSS feed for Eureka Burger SLO stopped working and the @EurekaBurgerSLO account stopped updating. Since I didn’t have a Facebook account I asked my wife to go through the process of finding an RSS feed for a Facebook Timeline. We couldn’t find one, so I gave up on the account and approached a Manager at Eureka Burger SLO about taking over the account. He agreed and I turned over the account to Eureka Burger. I was absolutely trilled. I no longer had to maintain the account and all the problems that might come along for the ride.

Why isn’t it updating?

After a while I noticed the @EurekaBurgerSLO account stopped updating. Why? Well it looks like they had one person updating the feed, instead of hooking it to their Facebook account to automagically publish to Twitter. As of this writing the last update was June 8, 2012. That really bummed me out.

Introducing @SLOEurekaBurger

That’s right, I’ve created a new account so I can automagically update it and see what beer is featured on “Steal the glass night.”

This time around I did a bit of digging, ok, I did a single Google query that lead me to this entry of Stack Overflow. It allowed me to dig out the Facebook RSS feed for Eureka Burger SLO with a couple URL’s.

How To Find a Facebook Wall RSS Feed

We’re going to use the Eureka Burger SLO Facebook account as an example, since it’s what I used.

Step 1: Right click the GIGANTOR image, known as a Cover, and copy the URL.

Step 1: Copy the URL

In this case the URL is:

All we need is the fbid parameter, in bold above.

Step 2: Check the Facebook Graph for that fbid

The graph call will produce a JSON feed that looks like this:

Step 1: Copy the URL

Notice the highlighted number id. We need to copy that number for the next step in the process.

Step 3: Get the RSS Feed

Once again, notice the bold text above. That’s the id we copied from step two. Now you have an RSS feed for a Facebook Wall. Very nice.

Step 4: Create an ifttt Recipe

Since I needed a way to publish that RSS feed to the new @SLOEurekaBurger Twitter account I chose to use ifttt. I’ll let you go explore that. Ifttt is an awesome service if you need to transform data from one format to another, or from a format to a social media stream, like going from a Facebook RSS feed to Twitter.

Hopefully someone will find this useful. I know I did. Let’s hope it works.

Business Social

Twitter Crazy Talk

The hubbub over a recent Twitter Engineering post, and all the follow on posts, has me thinking. No, thinking isn’t one of my strong suits, but here’s what I think is going to happen.


Watch out! It's a blog fly!That’s it in a nutshell. Why do I believe that? Today Twitter announced it’s overhauling They just shipped a new release of Twitter for iOS, without a Twitter for Mac update, and now they’ve taken the time to overhaul Something stinks, besides me.

Why would you spend the time and money to overhaul the mobile website if you didn’t intend to make it your primary view of the Twitter Universe on mobile? Ok, ok, maybe they’re perfectionists, who love their craft, I can accept that explanation. Then again, maybe they plan on killing off all native clients? It could happen, right?

There’s my big BOLD prediction.

I hope I’m wrong. In fact I’m pretty sure I am, but there’s that little part of me that thinks this may happen.

Man, I really don’t want to HAVE to use the website to tweet and read tweets. That would be teh suck.


Ged talks to The Magic 8-Ball

Gedeon Maheux: “Damn straight they would. There are many developers and companies who have build their livelihood around the Twitter API since 2007. We even helped Twitter evolve and grow to where it is today. Are you saying none of that matters now?”

So, yeah, Twitter client developers are worried. Can you blame them?