As you all know, FriendFeed is equipped with some features to cooperate with Twitter. FriendFeed gives you with automatic CC to Twitter for writing and realtime feed updates for reading, and helps you find your Twitter friends on FriendFeed. However, they are just not enough because you cannot expect everyone to join FriendFeed. For Twitter users who don’t or wouldn’t have their accounts on FriendFeed, you have to set up an “imaginary friend” for each one of them by hand to make their tweets come up on your FriendFeed timeline. Even after all these hard work, you are left with some friends who make their tweets private, which FriendFeed cannot import. What about @replies? You don’t even notice on FriendFeed that someone is talking @you when your friends on Twitter are enjoying spontaneous talk with others, including strangers.
Here’s my answer to all these inconveniences. I wrote a tool called
tw2ff that makes your FriendFeed life much easier in terms of integration with Twitter. It consists of the following features:
- Friend list synchronization: importing Twitter-only friends to FriendFeed as “imaginary friends”
- @replies import: generating a custom RSS feed of @replies for importing to FriendFeed
- Protected tweets import: generating a custom RSS feed of protected tweets for importing to FriendFeed
- Favorites synchronization: synchronizing FriendFeed likes and Twitter favorites
- .. and some more
tw2ff is bundled in my “friendfeed” ruby gem, so you can install it right away by just one command as follows:
gem install friendfeed
The first thing you do after the installation is run
tw2ff config and set up credentials for your Twtter and FriendFeed accounts. It invokes a text editor with the following content, so fill in with your login information and save the file.
The file is located at
~/.tw2ff/config.yml, which directory is created with mode
700. Make sure it is never read by anyone else.
Friend list synchronization
You are now ready to run
tw2ff friends to import your Twitter-only friends to FriendFeed as “imaginary friends”. It’s automatic, it compares your friend list on Twitter with subscriptions on FriendFeed and creates one imaginary friend for each Twitter friend missing in FriendFeed, where the screen name is enclosed with parentheses so you can easily see it is an imaginary friend. The
tw2ff friends command does not change anything with existing imaginary friends, so you can safely rerun it at any time to keep your FriendFeed timeline in sync with that of Twitter. You will likely want to run it every time you follow a new person on Twitter, but it is also an idea to register this as a daily cron job and just leave the task to it.
One note about replying to imaginary friends. If you post a comment to an imaginary friend’s entry with the “Also send this comment as an @reply twitter from ” box checked, it will be visible in Twitter but not on FriendFeed because imaginary friends are private to you.
After a while, you may happen to visit Twitter or run a Twitter client and notice that some of your friends have changed their icons. That’s when you run
tw2ff icons, a command that updates all imaginary friends icons with those of their Twitter accounts. Maybe a candidate for a monthly cron job or so.
Import of @replies and protected tweets
The only way to import private feeds to FriendFeed is put the feed in a secret place no one else would know and feed it to your own imaginary friend. (FriendFeed does not support any kind of authentication in feed crawling)
First off, create an imaginary friend named, say, “@replies”. This is where your secret @replies RSS is fed to. Then set up a cron job that invokes
tw2ff replies replies.rss and upload the file
replies.rss to a secret location, preferably only fetchable via HTTPS. Now you can add a service to the above said imaginary friend and set the secret location. There are a couple of options to choose what kind of replies should be included to the feed:
--include-protected. The default is both off. Specify them as needed. In addition, by the way, I highly recommend adding your favstar feed to the imaginary friend so you can see more as to how others are reacting to you. Currently there is no support in
tw2ff for your tweets RT’d, but I’ll implement it some way in near future.
Okay, you’re done with @replies and now, you can pull protected tweets into your FriendFeed timeline the same way by importing a feed produced by
tw2ff protected. Please be doubly sure that you won’t leak the feed out to public.
I much prefer FriendFeed likes to Twitter favorites because they are visible to others, naturally including the one whose post is favorited. That makes it easier to share topics not just with your friends but across the much wider friends-of-friends community. Recently Twitter introduced the RT feature to help people share their attentions, but I don’t think it would have been needed if favorites had been implemented and featured properly.
Let’s get back to the subject. I use “likes” a lot in FriendFeed and whenever I “like” a tweet I want to “favorite” it on Twitter at the same time, and vice versa. That’s exactly what
tw2ff favorites does. It looks into the recently liked entries for tweets, and the ones not yet favorited are favorited on Twitter. Likewise, it searches the recent entries on your FriendFeed timeline for your favorited tweets, and the ones not yet liked are liked on FriendFeed. All you need to do it make it a cron job. Problem solved!
- Support for RT’s
- Switching Twitter client access to OAuth
- Utilizing Twitter’s streaming API and eliminate the time lag of @replies/protected tweet feeds
- Switching FriendFeed client access to v2 API
- (You add one)
With the help of
tw2ff as described above, I can live just with FriendFeed without the need for always keeping another window for Twitter. FriendFeed quite shines when it stands as the one-stop portal for sharing what you and your friends are up to. Empower your FriendFeed life with