BirdFood: Smarter RSS Feed for Twitter with Yahoo! Pipes

I’ve become quite a Twitter junkie.  I don’t use one of them new-fandangled Twitter clients; I read the RSS in Thunderbird.  Twitter’s RSS feeds are, however, well, shite.  The biggest annoyance is that links aren’t linked.

I’d also heard a lot of good things about Yahoo! Pipes, so today I decided to put two-and-two together and give the tubes a run for their money.

Here’s a list of things that are better about this version of the RSS feed:

  • Links are expanded out to their titles, italicized and linked
  • User names at the beginning of the update are linked
  • @nicks are linked
  • #tags are linked to the appropriate search

Now, for instance, instead of this:

mbites: The FT on the @andyburnham story http://tinyurl.com/73hpcw

I get this:

mbites: The FT on the @andyburnham story FT.com | Tech Blog | UK culture minister “kidnapped” in online protest at net ratings plan

This makes the world a better place for those of us reading Twitter via RSS.

As for Pipes? Well, naturally a bit of well-placed Perl would have done the task more quickly, but this did give me a chance to play with, you know A Cloud Solution.  I’m supposed to be into that now.  Pipes is mostly really groovy.  It has a couple of limitations in logical flow, mostly in the interplay between text and items in a feed, that make things a bit clunky.  And there’s a bug in the regular expression implementation that means that only one URL, or tag, or reply gets expanded properly (you can set it to do global substitution, but then it only replaces the value with the first, rather than the appropriate captured value).  Any ambitious reader who cares to find a work-around will have praise heaped upon them in an update.  

For now, the rest of you can get the goods here:

http://pipes.yahoo.com/scotchi

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