Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service where users send and receive very small text-based posts. The short length of these messages and the simplicity of the service causes the message traffic to be labeled descriptively as tweets. However, even a very simple messaging service requires programming these days, and that is where this very accessible book comes in.
This book is an introduction to build web applications via the Twitter API. This book has three main parts: an overview of the Twitter social issues; background information on the languages and environment you need to create your applications; and finally code for sample applications that will get you started. Anyone familiar with computer programming and web applications should be able to just read the PHP scripts used to create the sample applications and understand how the underlying syntax works.
The reader needs a basic understanding of how applications are built and hosted on the Web. However, strangely enough, you don't need to be a professional programmer. The XHTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL code necessary for building the example applications will be provided and explained.
Chapter 1, "Hello Twitter", is not your usual intro chapter on a basic Hello Twitter program. Instead it is a chapter on the culture and social aspects of Twitter. Anyone can pick up this chapter and understand what Twitter is and where it is coming from in a social and historical context.
Chapter 2, "Twitter Applications", reviews third-party Twitter apps. The purpose, however, is not to present you with a directory of the world's best Twitter applications. Instead, the purpose of this list is to show you some of the things that can be done with a web application using the Twitter API. These applications may provide some inspiration for your own projects.
Chapter 3, "Web Programming Basics", provides an overview of the basic knowledge and tools needed to create the applications described later in the book. Although the Twitter API can be used to create desktop and mobile applications as well, this book focuses on the web platform built with PHP and MySQL.
Chapter 4, "Meet the Twitter API", introduces you to the building blocks for your future application - the ways that you can send commands in Twitter. This chapter describes these specific request methods available through the Twitter API. Each section, presents one of the 40 existing API methods and explain what is needed to get data from Twitter using that method. These 40 methods are grouped into seven categories: Publishing, Information Stream, Follow Network, Communication, Member Account, API Administration, and Search.
Chapter 5, "Meet the Output", takes a close look at the information Twitter sends to you in response to your requests for data. It goes hand in hand with the previous chapter on commands.
Chapter 6, "Application Setup", shows what you might find under the hood of those Twitter applications mentioned in chapter two by having you build one of your own. In this chapter, you prepare your web environment to run a suite of sample web applications built to illustrate different interactions with the API. The setup includes establishing a Twitter account, creating tables in a MySQL database, and making a directory for included files. Chapters 7 and 8 contain descriptions of the applications and automated tasks
Chapter 7, "Sample Applications", is where you examine the sample web applications that can serve as a base for your own projects. There are seven of them that all illustrate a different aspect of the use of the Twitter API. Detailed code is included.
Chapter 8, "Automated Tasks", examines the code that performs the behind-the-scenes operations that give the tools their functionality. As in the previous chapter, the descriptions of the code in this chapter build on each other. The first application will be discussed in more detail than the later ones because they share a lot of code structure and logic.
The appendix provides a basic look at the Twitter API, listing the method path, whether it requires authentication, if it is charged against your rate limit, the HTTP method type, and any required and optional parameters.
This first book (as far as I know) on the Twitter API is a very good one, and highly recommended for those of you who are interested in writing your own applications.