Thursday, November 25, 2010

Twitter and TDI - Part 3

A while back, I wrote myself a Twitter connector for Tivoli Directory Integrator. I was bored one weekend and it seemed like an interesting exercise. After all, it was a good opportunity to find out about Twitter's migration to OAuth.

I didn't want a complicated Twitter connector. It only had to perform a handful of functions:
  • Send a tweet
  • Iterate through my tweets
  • Iterate through my friends' tweets
  • Iterate through the public timeline
  • Iterate through a specific person's tweets (other than mine)

I didn't want to bother with direct messaging or retweeting or geo-location or anything fancy. After all, my intention was to show how I could get TDI respond to events posted on Twitter and repond to other events by posting an update on Twitter. (In short, use Twitter as a less-enterprise like MQ system!)

I'm glad to say that the experiment worked and I provide it to the populace at large to take a look at. For a sneak preview, here's the main connector:

In the example above, I'm processing Twitter Object Types of "Tweets: Other" and looking at Stephen Fry's tweets. The Consumer Key/Secret and Access Key/Secret are not displayed for obvious reasons! Indeed, obtaining the key/secret combinations is a little fiddly though there is plenty of documentation out there to help you obtain that info from Twitter.

Running an AL with the connector in iterator mode pointed at "stephenfry" results in the following work entries being dumped in my log:

CTGDIS087I Iterating.
CTGDIS003I *** Start dumping Entry
    Operation: generic
    Entry attributes:
        date (replace):    'Thu Nov 25 09:24:58 GMT 2010'
        tweet (replace):    'Damnably chilly on the Sherlock Holmes set this morning. Frost forming on the supporting artists' moustaches...'
CTGDIS004I *** Finished dumping Entry
CTGDIS003I *** Start dumping Entry
    Operation: generic
    Entry attributes:
        date (replace):    'Thu Nov 25 07:06:52 GMT 2010'
        tweet (replace):    'Lordy. 260 all out. Knew we shouldn't write Australia off. A wounded wallaby us a dangerous thing.  Ho hum. Business as usual. #theashes'
CTGDIS004I *** Finished dumping Entry
CTGDIS003I *** Start dumping Entry
    Operation: generic
    Entry attributes:
        date (replace):    'Wed Nov 24 17:40:50 GMT 2010'
        tweet (replace):    '@AWOLTom Already have...'
CTGDIS004I *** Finished dumping Entry
CTGDIS003I *** Start dumping Entry
    Operation: generic
    Entry attributes:
        date (replace):    'Wed Nov 24 16:55:24 GMT 2010'
        tweet (replace):    'The fine is taken care of, but there is a fighting fund @TwJokeTrialFund http://bit.ly/cTK2Li A fiver from you to help the appeal?'
CTGDIS004I *** Finished dumping Entry


Wow, you may be thinking. But why would I want to do that?

Indeed. I guess, as I have alluded to in this blog before, you could have your assembly lines "tweet" upon component failure so that an out-of-hours support person can respond. After all, tweets can easily be delivered to smartphones at no cost to the organisation.

Alternatively, you could remotely control assembly lines using this mechanism. Just think, I could tweet "Start HR Feed" to my personal twitter-stream and I could have an assembly line iterating through my twitter-stream just waiting for the instruction to start processing that feed! (NOTE: I wouldn't necessarily advocate that this is a great way of managing your production schedule!)

The connector and supporting JAR files can be retrieved from here:
NOTE: jtwitter.jar and signpost-core.1.2.1.1.jar are open source code provided elsewhere on the net. I've added these versions here as they are known to work with my connector.

Drop the twitterConnector.jar into TDI_HOME/jars/connectors. Drop the other JARs into TDI/HOME/jars/3rdparty.


If you need help getting your keys/secrets, I may be able to sort you out, though you will probably appreciate figuring it out for yourself in the long run.

For those interested in the underlying code, it is really very simple. A bind to Twitter using OAuth can be achieved in two lines of code:

// Make an oauth client
OAuthSignpostClient oauthClient = new OAuthSignpostClient(
            this.twitterConsumerKey,
            this.twitterConsumerSecret,
            this.twitterAccessKey,
            this.twitterAccessSecret
);

// Make a Twitter object
this.twitterBind = new Twitter(this.twitterUser, oauthClient);


Sending a tweet is a single line of code:

this.twitterBind.setStatus(tweet);

And iterating through tweets is a matter of invoking one of four methods, like this:

this.tweetList = this.twitterBind.getUserTimeline(this.twitterUser);

You can look through TwitterConnector.java to get a feel for the full source code.

I've had fun building the connector and it can certainly ease the pain of putting together Assembly Lines that need to make calls to Twitter by having such a neat interface. I hope you have fun too.
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