Posts Tagged ‘poshformat’

Twitter: A microformat in lieu of a protocol

November 21, 2009

In May of this year I wrote about the problems of URLs for a given Twitter user’s profile, or for an individual post or “status” being different, depending the Twitter client in use. I suggested a new protocol for Twitter links. [You might want to read that, before the rest of this post]. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this simpler solution sooner!

The answer (in the short term) is to use a microformat (or a microformat-like “poshsformat”, if you prefer to call it that) for each case. Let’s say we use the classes twitter-user & twitter-status.

User-agents (that’s jargon for browsers) could then employ a script (such as those used by GreaseMonkey, or a Firefox extension) to ignore the encoded URL and substitute the equivalent for the user’s preferred Twitter client instead.

For links to user profiles:

<a
href="http://twitter.com/pigsonthewing">
Andy Mabbett
</a>

would become:

<a
class="twitter-user"
href= "http://twitter.com/pigsonthewing">
Andy Mabbett
</a>

and:

<a
href="http://accessibletwitter.com/app/user.php?uid=pigsonthewing">
Andy Mabbett</a>

would become:

<a
class="twitter-user"
href=" http://accessibletwitter.com/app/user.php?uid=pigsonthewing">
Andy Mabbett</a>

Likewise, for individual statuses:

<a
href="twitter.com/pigsonthewing/status/1828036334">
something witty</a>

would become:

<a
class="twitter-status"
href="twitter.com/pigsonthewing/status/1828036334">
something wittyg<a>

and:

<a
href="accessibletwitter.com/app/status.php?1828036334">
something witty<a>

would become:

<a
class="twitter-status"
href="accessibletwitter.com/app/status.php?1828036334">
something witty<a>

and:

<a
href="m.slandr.net/single.php?id=1828036334"
something witty</a>

would become:

<a
class="twitter-status"
href="m.slandr.net/single.php?id=1828036334">
something witty</a>

To simplify matters, the rules for extracting the user ID or the status update could be the same in both cases:

  1. Parse the value of the href attribute of the element to which the class applies.
  2. If there is a question mark, use everything after that.
  3. Otherwise, if there is an equals sign, use everything after that.
  4. Otherwise, use everything after the last slash.

That would deal with all the examples in my earlier post.

So, if you’re using a user-agent which is aware of this microformat, and find on a page:

<a
class="twitter-user"
href="http://twitter.com/pigsonthewing">
Andy Mabbett<a>
said
<a
class="twitter-status"
href="m.slandr.net/single.php?id=1828036334">
something witty<a>

but your preferred Twitter client is Dabr (one I recommend, BTW!) then your browser would treat (and possibly render) that as:

<a
href="dabr.co.uk/user/pigsonthewing">
Andy Mabbett<a>
said
<a
class="twitter-status"
href="dabr.co.uk/status/1828036334">
something witty<a>

Simples!

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