Break stuff. Now.

Then Birdfeed Happened

Getting stuff from Twitter without being on Twitter

June 11, 2018

Twitter is a great platform to get live information at the touch of your fingertips. However, it's also addictive and at the same time creepy. I left the platform after years of use, settling with old-school Atom/RSS feeds from blogs and news sites. It was fine at first but I eventually missed the feel of live information that's just one refresh away. I wanted to get information from Twitter without being on Twitter. So I created Birdfeed.

Birdfeed is an app as well as an open-source project that allows anyone to get an Atom-formatted feed of a Twitter user's public timeline or a specific search term without being on Twitter. What this means is that you can just pop in a Birdfeed-formatted url and you get a feed as if you followed them on Twitter. And it's all free.

Before everything happened, I came came across twitrss.me which does the exact same thing. Unfortunately, the feed it generates does not render well on my feed reader. And even though it is open-source, it is written in Perl. I don not do Perl. So instead of contributing some tweaks, I thought that it would be faster to reimplement it in Node.js.

And so I did.

Under the hood, all it does is screen-scrape the publicly-available, no-script version of https://twitter.com/. I did not use the official Twitter API because it needs an API key. And to get an API key, you need a Twitter account which defeats the whole purpose of this exercise. Hosting was the last hurdle. I eventually settled with Now for this and for future open-source projects.

So go ahead and try it. I recommend subscribing to @SwiftOnSecurity and @IAmDevloper for a bunch of random, developer-related laughs.