How To

How to Refresh a Twitter Feed Automatically

One of the great things about Twitter is the ability to keep abreast of what’s happening. Whether it’s local news, influential tweeters or buddies, you can quickly get a snapshot of what’s going on that matters to you.

I’ve written before about how to get breaking news on Twitter, but the approach I discussed there requires the user’s intervention. Many Twitter clients, in fact, force you to interact with the on-screen client in order to get the tweets you want delivered. Even when the tweets are pushed to your client by Twitter, they often require a touch or mouse click to become visible.

Twitter does include APIs, though, that developers can use to push messages and create a real-time, live stream of auto-refreshed tweets. The streaming APIs, for example, use a persistent HTTP connection and parse, filter and aggregate before storing the results to a data store.

Developers can then get their apps to auto-refresh or just notify the user that tweet events have occurred, as is the case with many Android apps.

Auto-refresh can be used to leave Twitter running on a PC-connected TV, for example, without involvement from you. You can then just glance at the screen.

Here’s how to stream and auto-refresh your Twitter feed using the Chrome or Firefox desktop browsers, or stream a keyword feed using social network management tool HootSuite’s live Twitter feed tool.

Note: Falcon Pro is an Android app that allows auto-refresh streaming. It’s currently unavailable to new users because it has reached Twitter’s 100,000-user-token limit. However, existing token owners can still download and auto-refresh feeds on Android devices with it.

Chrome Browser: Refresh for Twitter

Step 1: Install the Chrome browser on your desktop by browsing to Google’s Chrome Web page and choosing the Download Chrome link. Follow the prompts to install the browser.

Step 2: Open a new tab in Chrome and select the Web Store link in the lower right corner. Enter the search term “Refresh for Twitter” in the Search the Store search box. Then scroll down to the Refresh for Twitter extension that will appear on the results page. Follow the prompts to install the extension.

Step 3: Open your Twitter timeline in a new tab and the timeline will refresh automatically.

Tip: Check for enabled extensions in Chrome by clicking on the Settings icon and choosing Extensions.

Firefox Browser: Auto-Refresh Twitter

Step 1: Install the Firefox browser on your desktop by browsing to the Mozilla Firefox download page and choosing the Download link. Follow the prompts to install the browser.

Step 2: Browse to the Mozilla Firefox Add-Ons Web page and perform a search for “Auto-Refresh Twitter.” Then click on the Auto-Refresh Twitter link and follow the prompts to install the add-on.

Step 3: Open your Twitter timeline in a new tab and the timeline will refresh automatically.

HootFeed Tool

Step 1: Browse to the HootFeed Web page using any desktop browser and enter your email address and keywords.

Tip: Selecting the Customize button allows you to add your brand identity and change layout options including header background, tweets background, hyperlink, header text and tweets text. This is good for creating event-based Twitter display streams, like at a trade show, for example.

Step 2: Click on the Launch button and the Twitter keyword search will auto-refresh on the next page.

Step 3: Press the F11 function key on a PC to maximize the browser and its HootFeed content to full screen.

Tip: Pressing F11 again reverts the screen back to a normal window.

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Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.

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