Getting started with APIs: using the Twitter API

API is one of those abbreviations that’s thrown around a lot but can seem a bit abstract.  Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) basically define a way for you to interact with a particular application (All clear now? No?). The best way to get your head around what this actually means is to use an API for something.

The Nerdary has a clear introductory guide to APIs, using the Twitter API. And the Twitter API really is a great place to start.

While Twitter may have bumped RSS off the homepage, you can still subscribe to Twitter using the API and, using Yahoo Pipes, combine and filter these feeds (and even clean up the data a little). This is a particularly handy way of monitoring feedback and mentions on Twitter and combining these into a super social media feed.

The Twitter API documentation will provide generic URLs as a guide which you can then use as RSS feeds in Yahoo Pipes (for example).

For starters to subscribe to a Twitter user’s lists:

http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss?screen_name=NAMEGOESHERE

(If you have any problems, there are always cheats available).

You can also subscribe to a Twitter search using the following format
http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=searchterm

There’s also a Basic Twitter Scraper available on ScraperWiki which you can fork to use as the basis of more advanced Twitter searches – but that might be a story for another time.

Continue reading “Getting started with APIs: using the Twitter API”

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Duck Duck Go teams up with WolframAlpha

Everyone’s favourite underdog search engine DuckDuckGo has officially teamed up with Wolfram|Alpha , they just announced. DuckDuckGo already utilises the Wolfram|Alpha API, but this will mean further integration and  other neat developments in the near future.