In search of THE twitter protocol to RULE them all

Here I am at the first WarbleCamp (a barcamp style twitter unconference) in the heart of the Guardian’s offices in Kings Cross.


I’ve always been interested in protocols and find them really coool, useful & helpful. So for my first warblecamp session I decided to call out for a discussion on creating a twitter:// protocol – why do I see this as important, and what does it mean ?


Here is my use case for how a standard twitter protocol would work. A web page would have a link embedded within the HTML such as an @username or a call to action page which might be a petition site wanting you to tweet a link with a fixed hashtag.

The normal flow of events are that the link would POST the message to ; firstly you would be required to authenticate on and then you would be forwarded on to your twitter page, with the message appearing in the posting box.

A pre-requisite in this would be to encode the message in the url which would take on the form :<encoded message>

Wouldn’t it be great IF – there was one single twitter:// protocol that would communicate with an application on my computer, that i’ve already authenticated and i’m happy/comfortable using.

This would mean app developers would need to adopt the protocol with their own apps behaviour, but it woud allow all kinds of interaction with clients and quick / easy interaction with twitter platform, not matter if you are on a desktop or a mobile.

Here is a quick flow of how I think it might work.


The biggest challenge I believe is at step 3 where the user has to set / select which registered application to use, could this be a system preference, could it be sniffed out with javascript, the user needs control over it, but it would/should act a bit like browser selectors, maybe its all driven via something like @anywhere and the choice of apps are shown via javascript links … lots of ideas and questions, but I’d like app developers and twitter developers interested in seeing this happen to engage in a conversation to see if we can make this happen.

Message me on twitter @ketan to continue this discussion OR reply to the post below, and lets see if we can make this happen. I will expand some further ideas on the flow above in a future post.

Thanks @raffi for talking through this idea with me at WarbleCamp this morning !

Tags: , , ,

3 Responses to “In search of THE twitter protocol to RULE them all”

  1. Also check
    You could register “twitter” protocol to be used with an web api, at least for prototyping the thing on Firefox.

  2. But do we need double-slash after colon? even Tim Berners-Lee regrets it, see

    • Ket says:

      Yes I agree, we could probably remove it.

      I see a few things that are necessary:

      A list of some common actions the protocol will need to handle, we could experiment with the mozilla registration, and perhaps set up a little test to see how that works, if we have some solid structure may well use it as a basis to move forward with.

      My key challenge I see here is that the desktop will need to know what a registered, preferred client is, on macs, some app like Choosy might work, OR if the application when installed can register with the browser, how would this work on a PC and how would it work across multiple browsers.

      I’m no desktop developer – but there must be a way that skype has done this .. I think its an exciting prospect.

Leave a Reply