What do you do when a favorite web application goes away? That’s what some 4000 users of TwitApps
are wondering, now that the Twitter-to-email tool is being dropped by
its developer. Sure, the code is going open source — inevitably, a new
tool will come along — but what alternatives to TwitApps are out there
When Christine Datillo tweeted,
“One of my
favorite apps - Twitapps is shutting down. This kept me off twitter
24/7. I was emailed all replies. Anyone know of substitute?”
I suggested the first solution that leapt to mind:
“You could grab RSS for @’s to you (via Twitter Search), run RSS feed through Feedburner, then subscribe yourself by email.”
Chris wondered about the time lag,
quite rightly, and I think we
can improve on that original suggestion. But, first, let's just go over how to get
from Twitter to RSS to email:
Step 1: Get the RSS feed for your Twitter @ replies
Go to http://search.twitter.com and enter @username (your Twitter username with an @ sign in front of it — in my case, for example, that would be @rjleaman) as the search term.
On the search results page, look for the standard little orange RSS
icon and “Feed for this query” link in the upper right. That link is
the URL for this particular RSS feed. It will give you all the Twitter
tweets that include your username with the @ sign in front of it — all
the public Twitter messages that mention you by username or are
addressed to you directly.
(If you’re new to RSS, here’s our introduction to RSS feeds and feedreaders that you may find useful.)
Step 2: Subscribe to RSS feed by email
Using a feedreader like Google Reader or Bloglines might be the most
efficient way for you to keep on top of Twitter in real time, frankly.
But if you really do need to get your Twitter @replies by email, any RSS-to-email service will do that for you.
Feedburner is one option — see how to get started with Feedburner
— as I suggested to Christine, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the
best choice for what should be a simple monitoring task. There are a
few hoops to jump through to “burn” your feed, and Feedburner only
sends out emails once every 24 hours.
A few good free RSS-to-email services
Here are a couple of free RSS-to-email services that don’t require
the set-up that Feedburner does — all you have to do is enter the RSS
feed and your email address —and I'm sure you've got a few favorites of your own to add to this very short list:
only does daily emails at the moment, but I hear rumors that they may
be testing real-time feeds. Stay tuned for an update if anything more
comes up on this.
is a new one, still in beta, and I’m not sure yet how often it sends
emails — I’ve just this minute started testing it — but again, I’ll
update with more info when we see how it works out.
The piick of the bunch for getting Twitter replies via RSS and email, because of the frequency issue, looks like PeekFeed. It lets you choose how often you want to get your email updates — by the minute, hour or day.
Do be aware that Twitter's own API limits may restrict how often a search can be queried. But, let's face it, if you're checking for @ replies every few minutes through the day, your productivity is not likely going to be seriously hampered by a Twitter client humming away on your desktop, or a browser window open to Twitter.com!
So what do I do, to try to make sure to catch "important" conversations on Twitter?
A couple times a day I'll check my feedreader, where I've got a few keyword searches as RSS subscriptions, including the username search I've suggestsed above. And the less "urgent" search results RSS feeds, however — those of more general interest that I'll catch up to at leisure, like news alerts — get delivered by email and shuffled into neat folders by GMail's handy filter system. At the moment, yes, PeekFeed is my choice for an easy, free RSS-to-email
service — but if there’s one thing we’ve learned with social
media tools popping up and shutting down so quickly in the past year or
so, it’s the importance of having a backup plan for any web
application you've come to rely on!
What RSS-to-email service can you recommend, for Twitter users who want an alternative to TwitApps?