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Twitter Plugin Changes Coming

Posted by on Aug 20, 2010

Well, it seems the gravy train is over, or at least temporarily derailed. I’m not as tekkie as people think I am, so I didn’t know this until I tried to update Twitter Tools the other day, and learned that you now have to go through some interesting steps in trying to get it to work with Twitter; I still haven’t figured it out.

What’s going on? Twitter announced in April that they were going away with what’s called basic authentication because of all the spam and other ways that people were connecting to and abusing Twitter. They’re going to something they call OAuth, which will require all kinds of registration steps, special keys, etc. In other words, this is now a big deal. It’s a big deal because, based on what I’ve read, on August 31st all those things we presently use will be inoperable, unless the folks who developed those things decide to get the information needed to continue their usage.

What does it mean for us? It means that we don’t know if any of the things we presently use will be working after the 31st. Actually, the only one I think we know will be working is TweetMeme, and that’s only because Twitter just bought it. So, we’ll be wondering if any of the other things we use to post to Twitter, have others retweet our stuff to Twitter, use to check out Twitter followers or comments or posts or whatever else, will work the way they do now without more information from us. Twitter wants to move away from people only having to put in a username or password to get information; isn’t that interesting overall? They’re going the route of protecting their interests while Facebook goes the route of finding new ways to erode our privacy.

Actually, I did come across one plugin, but you then have to sign up for an account online that they charge you for, so I’m not even mentioning them. However, this might be the wave of the future, having to pay for access to Twitter through options that aren’t truly associated with Twitter. That also will prove to be interesting.

Either way, I guess we’re all in the same boat if we have Twitter accounts; let’s see what’s in store, and which white knight will ride to the rescue.


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22 Comments »

Interesting. I’ve been having issues with Headway’s auto post to Twitter AND with another plug-in I use. I just switched to having HootSuite do it, but it’s not immediate. Hmmm, I’m sure it will work itself out in the wash. Too many use Twitter to get information out about their sites.

August 20th, 2010 | 9:09 PM
Mitch:

I expect a lot of large sites and the like will work it out; it’s the smaller programs like Twitter Tools where I think we’re going to lose out on.

August 21st, 2010 | 12:02 AM
Brian D. Hawkins:

I sure do have bad timing, I just updated and started using TweetDeck for the first time in months. Looks like I better not get too attached. It’s going to be a shame in the hundreds of sites dependent on Twitter have to shut down.

August 20th, 2010 | 11:56 PM
Mitch:

Truthfully Brian, I’m of the opinion that TweetDeck is going to survive, but we’re all going to have to go to the site and sign up for the privilege to use it, something we haven’t had to do yet. As long as it stays free, I’d do at least that much.

August 21st, 2010 | 12:04 AM

Thanks for the info – I’ve been on vacation and had no idea this change was coming, so if some of my Twitter stuff stopped working after August 31st I wouldn’t have known what was going on. But I do now 🙂

August 21st, 2010 | 7:20 AM
Mitch:

No problem, Klaus. I’m certainly hoping some of this stuff will be addressed before that date, but it never hurts to hedge your bet if you can.

August 21st, 2010 | 8:05 AM

It is pretty simple, you need to create Twiter application and connect with OAuth method and API key

August 21st, 2010 | 8:41 AM
Mitch:

I’m thinking that’s not so simple, Carl. I certainly don’t know how to create an application; do you?

August 21st, 2010 | 8:55 AM
Christopher J. Pilkington:

Mitch, your article is spreading undue panic.

For example, TweetDeck already supports OAuth. So do the majority of legitimate tools. OAuth has been around for quite some time now.

There is no signing up or other nonsense for regular users.

The only registration that needs to occur is for application developers to register an API key.

August 21st, 2010 | 9:01 PM
Mitch:

Chris, I don’t think so. I know OAuth has been around. I’ve been reading about all this stuff a lot over the last 48 hours, before I wrote my post. I had a conversation with the WordPress people and even got email on it. That came about when I updated Twitter Tools, then saw the process I was supposed to go through to get it working on their site. I don’t know if you use Twitter Tools, but what I wrote is exactly what I was told, and what they have when you update and then try to get the program working. And that’s what many of the websites I’ve been visiting have said as well.

As a matter of fact, as you read in the post, I downloaded another Twitter update plugin, only to have it say that as of the 20th it wouldn’t be working anymore and to use this paid system, which I wrote about.

So, I don’t have it wrong based on my research. Now, all these other people might have it wrong, which would make me wrong, but if that’s the case then my present research is still valid.

August 21st, 2010 | 9:07 PM

Good morning, Mitch.

It’s pretty easy to get Twitter Tools working with OAuth on Twitter. You don’t have to develop an app, just name one. Just follow the few steps outlined in the Twitter Tools settings and it can be done in a couple of minutes or so.

I tried naming my new Twitter app “JDTwitterTool” and it said I couldn’t have the word “Twitter” in the name, so I named it “JDTweetTool” and all was well.

Twitter then provides the information you just copy and paste into your Twitter Tools setup.

You need a different app for each blog, so I named my second one “21camTweetTool” and had it set up in a couple of minutes.

There is NO programming or development needed to make this work.

Act on your dream!

JD

August 23rd, 2010 | 9:11 AM
Mitch:

John, it all didn’t make sense initially. My friend Chris, as you see, walked me through the process, and its working fine now. It is still complicated for normal users, which I include myself in, and if I hadn’t had him there to talk (or write) me through it I’d have been totally lost. I’m going to try to write a step by step here eventually to try to help more folks out.

August 23rd, 2010 | 9:53 AM
Christopher J. Pilkington:

Ok, I see what you are saying now. You are talking specifically about WordPress plugins for Twitter. I misunderstood where you were coming from.

You are basically making your site into its own Twitter client, so you need to have a Twitter API key, much as a developer of a Twitter app (like TweetDeck) would have. The API key signs the OAuth requests you’re issuing to Twitter.

In that case, all you should have to do is register an API key at Twitter, and configure it in your plugin. Then that plugin will have a methodolgy to authenticate you as a user.

The reason for this is that Twitter needs to know where to return a user after authenticating, and it does this based on the API key. Desktop/mobile applications don’t need this, because there isn’t a callback. That’s why they come bundled with the same API key.

This does bring up an interesting point though. Open source applications like twirssi distribute their API key within the app. I could technically just put this API key in my app and start using it if I wanted to be antisocial.

But what I said about Twitter applications still stand. If you are just an end user of Twitter, downloading an app to use on your phone or desktop, nothing will change. I surmise also that if you use a blogging service like wordpress.com or Tumblr, the API integration is done for you as well. It’s only if you are creating your own site that you need to fetch your own API key.

August 21st, 2010 | 9:26 PM
Mitch:

Glad our minds came together, Chris. lol

Then you went and wrote all that stuff and lost me. Okay, not totally. I understand about API keys, but the page they sent you to is quite confusing, and one question in particular asks where people can download “your” application; it kicked that one out because it wasn’t on my site.

As for the plugin itself, I just activated it so I could mention other information it says it needs. It needs a Twitter Consumer Key and Twitter Consumer Secret; no idea what those area. It also says it needs an Access Token and an Access Token Secret; nope, clueless.

The thing is that I’m not really the average user. I’m good at technology and know a lot of stuff, though I know your skills are way beyond mine. If I can’t figure this out to help explain it easily, then what to do about all the other people less techie than myself? This is drastically problematic, and I have no clue how to do any of it or then how to explain it. And it seems the WordPress people can’t help me either, even though I’ve had some email conversations with them. This is a sad state of affairs if you ask me.

August 21st, 2010 | 9:36 PM
Christopher J. Pilkington:

Ok, those keys, tokens and secrets:

First, you need to register an app, you do that at http://dev.twitter.com/apps.

Once you’ve done that, if you go back to http://dev.twitter.com/apps you’ll see the app listed. Click on it.

If you scroll down to OAuth 1.0a Settings, you’ll see there your Consumer Key and Consumer Secret.

Next, to get your Access Token and Secret, click on “My Access Token” in the right column of that page.

The Consumer Key and Secret identify your application (in this case, your plugin) to Twitter. The Access Token ans secret identify your personal Twitter account to Twitter for that application. The reason these are separate is that someone could authorize your site to tweet on their behalf, like hootsuite.com does. The Consumer Token and Key are the same for all requests from that application, the Access Token and Secret are different for each user, and users can revoke them at https://twitter.com/settings/connections.

Did this help any?

August 21st, 2010 | 10:28 PM
Mitch:

It helped some except for one thing; none of us is registering an app. Supposedly we’re supposed to register our sites as an app; that part is missing me.

August 21st, 2010 | 10:31 PM
Christopher J. Pilkington:

Yes, that is what you need to do. Your site is technically a unique Twitter client, so it needs to be registered at http://dev.twitter.com/apps.

It doesn’t matter that you’re the only user of this app, it just needs to be registered so that authentication works.

There is no cost to register.

August 21st, 2010 | 11:00 PM
Mitch:

My goodness, I went through and did it, changing the information, and it worked! lol Wow! And I think I might be able to even explain it at some point if I think about it. Thanks; I wish the WP people had been able to tell me this stuff. You da man!

August 21st, 2010 | 11:32 PM
Christopher J. Pilkington:

No problem! Also, the process for Facebook is similar, in case you’re wondering.

August 21st, 2010 | 11:57 PM
Mitch:

Actually, my question would be the process for Facebook “what”? I don’t use any apps for Facebook.

August 22nd, 2010 | 2:13 PM

I’m glad that you posted this. I didn’t realize that Twitter was making changes to everything. Your blog is a good source of news in our industry.

I’m hoping that these changes are not going to be so bad. Spam and misuse are problems with many web services, and as spam technology gets more advanced there are going to have to be improvements to services like Twitter to counteract them.

Of course, with every improvement comes more of a hassle for real users (look at captchas… ahhh!). Here’s to hoping this won’t make everything harder to use for real people!

August 23rd, 2010 | 1:42 PM
Mitch:

You’re right, Keith, and this shows what all that reading does to me. lol Tomorrow’s post will show everyone how to create those applications, however, thanks to Chris.

August 23rd, 2010 | 2:30 PM