Track is Back! Steve Gillmor Rejoices

Twitter TrackerOne of the major reasons I joined Twitter over a year ago was the ability to easily subscribe to Tweets, based on search terms I sent over my cell phone or IM client.  Due to scaling issues and load on Twitter as they grew, Twitter removed that ability shortly after Scoble and I visited them last year.  Twitter called it “Track”.

It was simple functionality.  I send “track keyword” to 40404 on my mobile phone, and immediately any Tweet with that keyword would be sent straight to my mobile phone (or IM client if I had it set correctly in my preferences).  It was very useful.  For instance, if I wanted to know every happening at the time going on at Sundance here in Utah, I would simply “track sundance” and all those Tweets would be delivered to me, as they happened.  I could do the same with my name, my brand, or my favorite technologies.

Twitter may have removed that functionality last year, but just over a week ago, they finally released API methods to make the real-time searching of keywords and search terms available again via their limited streaming APIs available in Alpha right now.  The API method is conveniently called “track”.  On June 12, John Kalucki, developer behind the real-time streaming APIs Twitter is now providing developers described it on the Twitter developers mailing list as such:

“The /track resource allows searching the Firehose stream for a list of keywords. This resource may be a useful adjunct to the Twitter Search API. While the predicates are less powerful than the SearchAPI, results are streamed continuously and with low-latency. For common keywords, a more complete set of results can be delivered than is possible by polling the Search API. Consult the Streaming API documentation for limits and details: http://apiwiki.twitter.com/Streaming-API-Documentation.”

Put in simple terms, developers now have access to take a list of keywords for a specific Twitter user, and have Twitter deliver any Tweet that meets those search terms in real-time back to the developer’s app.  That means Push notifications via iPhone applications on the new iPhone 3.0 firmware are now possible, any company utilizing SMS can easily deliver terms via SMS again, and more.

Because the Streaming APIs are in limited Alpha, only certain developers will be allowed access, but I fully expect to see this integrated in the near future.  I expect to see this especially as the code solidifies and moves out of Alpha, into apps such as TweetDeck, Tweetie, and Seesmic Desktop.  Twitter users everywhere can rejoice, as their most requested and most favorite feature taken from Twitter has just been found.

Twitter Tracker logo courtesy NBC Tonight Show.

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14 thoughts on “Track is Back! Steve Gillmor Rejoices

  1. I know it has been requested “longer” because it has been inactive for longer.

    However, I don't gauge my metrics on Steve Gillmor. He is very peculiar about these issues. When the “Replies recipe” was altered, Steve was actually applauding it because it was closer to what HE wanted.

    Yes, I remember when Track was pulled because of scaling issues. I also remember when Scoble (and Gillmor) bolted for Friendfeed, Scoble primarily because IM was disabled.

    Point being, when Track was initially disabled there was a ho-hum for many people, and a very small core of vocal critics. Had Twitter owned Summize at the time that happened, you would not have seen the Trending Topics consumed for three days with #bringbacktrack. There was not that groundswell.

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  2. […] There is currently a API in development that makes will make it possible to track time with twitter : “The track resource allows searching the Firehose stream for a list of keywords. This resource may be a useful adjunct to the Twitter Search API. While the predicates are less powerful than the SearchAPI, results are streamed continuously and with low-latency. For common keywords, a more complete set of results can be delivered than is possible by polling the Search API,” an entry on Twitter’s mailing list describing the feature reads, as pointed out by the Stay N’ Alive blog. […]

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  3. I know it has been requested “longer” because it has been inactive for longer.

    However, I don't gauge my metrics on Steve Gillmor. He is very peculiar about these issues. When the “Replies recipe” was altered, Steve was actually applauding it because it was closer to what HE wanted.

    Yes, I remember when Track was pulled because of scaling issues. I also remember when Scoble (and Gillmor) bolted for Friendfeed, Scoble primarily because IM was disabled.

    Point being, when Track was initially disabled there was a ho-hum for many people, and a very small core of vocal critics. Had Twitter owned Summize at the time that happened, you would not have seen the Trending Topics consumed for three days with #bringbacktrack. There was not that groundswell.

    Like

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