@updt_me: Subscribe to RSS feeds via Twitter

After HashPix, I have been working on yet another side-project – this one is called @updt_me.

What

@updtme is an RSS reader via Twitter. The idea is pretty simple – tell @updtme what sites/blogs/feeds/whatever you want to follow and @updt_me will send you a DM whenever a new post/article/news is available. Simple, isn’t it? :)

How

First things first, follow @updt_me on Twitter. We’ll need this to send you a DM.

Next, send a tweet mentioning the handle, a keyword (“START”) and a URL – either the feed URL or simply the site URL. Like this:

@updt_me START feeds.feedburner.com/42quirks

or this:

@updt_me START blog.42quirks.com

If you send us a regular URL, then we check whether the site has auto-discovery links for RSS/Atom within the `` tag. If it does, then we correctly identify the feed, subscribe you to it and we’ll send you a confirmation DM as follows:

Got it! We’ll DM you when http://feeds.feedburner.com/42quirks updates next! :)

That’s it, that’s all you have to do! Now, whenever the feed has a new post, you’ll receive a DM with the link and the title of the post! (Hence, the need to follow, BTW.)

Wait, how do I stop these updates from being sent?

Stopping updates is equally easy – just replace the keyword “START” in the above examples with the keyword “STOP” and the updates will stop! :)

Why?

Well, I don’t use Twitter frequently but I do have a Twitter app on my phone. My RSS reader slowly grew into a mammoth pile of feeds that I eventually stopped caring about. My source of news these days, is aggregators and forums like Reddit and HN. However, I do pay attention to my DMs on twitter.

Then I thought, why not get updates delivered directly to my DM inbox? That way, I’ll be able to read new posts, as they are published! YAY!

I scoured the internet hoping someone would have already built it. I found the reverse option, i.e. tweeting your OWN posts to a variety of platforms was available in plenty. Twitter was being widely used as a broadcast medium. There weren’t any (at least, any that I could find) applications that allowed you to subscribe via twitter.

Okay, what’s YOUR angle?

Experience. Practice. Helps me understand programming and development better. :)

Wait, I know! You plan to monetize by selling/sharing/exchanging/renting my data!

Erm, firstly, what data? You twitter handle? But isn’t that known to the world, anyway? o_O

Secondly, your subscriptions are private and are known to only to you! Yes, the application does store your twitter handle and your subscription in a DB. HOWEVER, that’s so that it knows what feeds to fetch and who to send it to. But then, anyone who reads your tweets would know that anyway, right? So…

Okay, can I subscribe to feeds privately?

Uh, not yet. It is in the pipeline, though. I’m currently choosing between making it a web-based form and extracting via DM – heavily leaning toward the latter to keep the ecosystem consistent. If you have a preference, let me know.

For the record, this is my list of #TODOs at the moment…

TODO

  1. A browser-based interface to manage your subscriptions - This would become yet another online feed reader, so I’m trying to avoid it.
  2. Multiple delivery endpoints, e.g. @-mentions, Facebook, App.net, SMS, Mail – wait, that last one’s already done.
  3. Subscriptions via DM rather than mentions. - So you can follow a feed without the world knowing about it… wink wink nudge nudge
  4. Folders/Tags for your feed (using hashtags maybe?
  5. Manage feed delivery frequency
  6. More keywords: “LIST”, “SEARCH”, “TRAFFIC”,
  7. Extract it into a library so that anyone who wants to, can create their own @updt_me instance.

If you have any other ideas for @updt_me, do let me know! Criticism, feedback, appreciation, abuses, brickbats, bouquets, pointers, mallocs – everything is welcome. You can reach me quicker by tweeting me [@shrikant][6].