Introducing Twitterformats


Update: Since Twitter has announced annotations, you will be able to use annotations for Twitterformats. I've thus stopped maintaining the site and – blush – actually let the domain expire. So don't go there! :)

You delete a tweet and it appears in strikethrough in your followers' timelines…

…It's your birthday so your Twitter client notifies your followers…

…You wonder whether you should wear your red shirt or white shirt to your party, so you run a poll, right in your Twitter client, using nothing but tweets, and then share the pie chart of the results with your followers…

…Jenny's organizing a yoga meet-up and wants to know whether you'll attend. She sends you an invite, you agree to go, and your Twitter client automatically adds it to your calendar application. All using nothing but tweets…

…You notice a typo in your latest tweet so you change it and your followers are notified…

This is not some future Twitter scenario based on Twitter adding features to Twitter and the Twitter API.

You can do it all today with Twitterformats.

How it came about

I initially thought up Twitterformats at the end of May when I was trying to arrange to see a movie with my friend Paul. I couldn't help thinking how much better the experience would have been if Twitter understood the meaning of my tweets; if it understood that I was asking Paul if he wanted to see a certain movie with me at a certain time; if it wasn't just 140 dumb characters. (This led me to draft the first Twitterformat, tRendezvous – which is also the first Twitterformat to use URLs and Microformats.)

So I got the Twitterformats domain, thought about it some more, and then promptly proceeded to sit on for about six months as life and other projects got in the way. In those six months, I kept feeling the need to extend Twitter in various ways. So, once I had submitted 'Avit to Apple, I finally decided to create the Twitterformats site, and to put a little effort into it to do it right. I wanted to make sure that Twitterformats supported a decentralized workflow for new proposals and implementations and could be run by the community. It took me a little over a week to create the site and write up the initial batch of Twitterformat proposals and the various guides and that's what I'm launching today.

What are Twitterformats?

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

Twitterformats are community-contributed and implemented in an entirely decentralized manner and do not require input or effort from Twitter itself. They are a dynamic, organic alternative to waiting for Twitter to add a feature to its API.

Twitterformats empower the community, and Twitter client authors, to expand Twitter – its vocabulary, features, and expressiveness – in an organic, evolutionary manner.

Take a look at some of the currently-proposed Twitterformats mentioned above to get a feeling for how they work: (See note above.)

If you want to see more, look through the full list of currently-proposed Twitterformats.

Get Started

To get started, read through the summary on the Twitterformats home page.

To find out how the decentralized proposal and implementation system works through pingbacks, read the Proposal Ping and Implementation Ping sections.

If you want to author Twitterformats proposals, check out the Syntax Guide, Naming Convention Guide, and the Proposal Template.

For other information, including how Twitterformats relate to Microformats and other similar technologies, check out the Twitterformats Frequently Asked Questions.

Get Involved!

Like individual Twitterformats themselves, the Twitterformats project will live or die based on whether it is adopted by the community and Twitter client authors. And that's a good thing! So, if you want to see Twitterformats blossom, get involved!

Take a look at the currently-proposed Twitterformats, start using them in your tweets, contact your favorite Twitter client authors and ask them to implement your favorite Twitterformats, suggest new Twitterformats, and join the Twitterformats Mailing List – let's get this baby off the ground and usher in a new chapter in the story of Twitter; a chapter where the community begins to evolve Twitter in new and exciting ways!

Here's to Twitterformats and a more open, dynamic, expressive, and fun Twitter!

I can't wait for your involvement and feedback and I can't wait to see the wonderful things you will do with Twitterformats.