This article was published on December 14, 2009

Twitter Formats, a way to truly evolve Twitter.

Twitter Formats, a way to truly evolve Twitter.
Jamie Riddell
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Jamie Riddell

Jamie Riddell is the Co-Founder and CEO of Digital Tomorrow Today where he works to identify the coming digital changes and translates them Jamie Riddell is the Co-Founder and CEO of Digital Tomorrow Today where he works to identify the coming digital changes and translates them into actionable strategies for today's market.

Picture 12Web development guru Aral Balkan has announced a particularly interesting project that may just have some serious potential. Potential to make Twitter a whole lot more useful, but also more complicated…

So what are Twitter Formats?

Balkan’s description: Twitterformats are decentralized, community-driven, human-readable/writable, machine-parseable, lightweight client-side APIs that extend Twitter to solve practical problems.

For the less technically minded, it’s a way for you to insert syntax, words, letters into your tweets which in turn tells your Twitter client to perform a certain action.

So for example:

Add tDelete to your tweet.

The tDelete Twitterformat (e.g., /del last) informs your followers that you have deleted the referenced tweet (in preceding the example, your last tweet). Twitter clients that implement tDelete can alert users in realtime that a tweet has been deleted and display deleted tweets differently (e.g., in strikethrough).

or my personal favourite tContinuation in your tweet.

The tContinuation Twitterformat (e.g., /cont This is a continuation of the previous tweet.) makes it clear that either the current tweet will be continued in the next tweet (“to be continued”, if used at the end of a tweet) or that the current tweet is a continuation of the previous tweet (“continued”, if used at the start of a tweet). Twitter clients that implement tContinuation can display a message on tweets that are “to be continued” to alert users that there is more to come and “continued” tweets may be combined to display as a single tweet.

The other suggestions include tinserttstrike and treplace with others expected as the site grows.

There are plenty more out there, the ambition is to have Twitter client developers like Seesmic, Tweetdeck, Tweetie and of course, itself, to integrate Twitter Formats and make it possible for users to perform actions via any Twitter client.

If you wish to make a suggestion for a new Twitter Format you are asked to submit a proposal ‘ping’ which offers the chance to include the name and rationale for the request.

Each ping is checked and then added to the proposed formats section where any user can review and vote. Visiting users are asked to send a request to their preferred Twitter client of any format change they believe can enhance the service. It is hoped that in time ‘people power’ will help guide twitter client development and ultimately the direction from Twitter HQ.

With such a new idea no implementations [of suggested format enhancements by Twitter clients] have been achieved but if the idea takes off, client developers and twitter themselves may benefit from connecting with this community.

Sound like something you’d be interested in seeing take off? Visit Twitter Formats but also I highly recommend you read Balkan’s announcement about the project, it will address some of the most immediately concerns, particularly in regard to complication.

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