Update: As of Sept 3rd, 2010, this code or approach no longer works. Twitter has taken themselves too seriously to disable a working protocol in lieu of complicated oAuth. I am keeping the post intact for amusement and knowledge of xmlhttp works.
Twitter is fun. You can stay in touch with your friends and followers, 140 characters at a time.
Out of curiosity I opened the twitter api documentation today to see if it is possible to build an excel based desktop client to post messages to twitter.
It turns out that, doing this using twitter api is relatively simple. So I went ahead and built an excel sheet using which you can post messages to your twitter account. Interested? Read on
Create a new MS Excel file and make a data entry form like this
You can insert the button using form controls. Go to menu > view > toolbars and select “forms”.
Now select the button control and draw it on your sheet.
Excel will show a dailog asking which macro to run when that button is pressed. Enter the name as “tweetThis” or something cool.
Make sure you adjust the text color of password field same as background. That way your colleague (say hello to her from PHD) cannot look over your shoulder and know your twitter password.
PS: if you are using Excel 2007, form controls will be available in “Developer” tab of ribbon. If you don’t see developer tab, you must turn it on from “excel options”. Press office button and select excel options. I guess the option will be in “Advanced” area.
Create named ranges for your data
(this step is not mandatory)
We need just 3 fields of data to post a message to your twitter account. User name, Password and Message . Select each of the 3 cells and create named ranges for them. Name them something meaningful like “tusername”, “tpasswd” and “tmessage”. To create a name for selected cell, just press menu > insert > name > define (press the create name button in excel 2007)
Now, the fun part, writing macro code to post your message to twitter
The actual code is no geek stuff. We will use XMLHTTP object to do our work.
What is xmlhttp? it is the same object your browser uses to dynamically receive and send data from websites. It is the stuff behind all those cool AJAX powered sites.
First, right click on the “tweet” button you have created and select assign macro option. In the window it would show your macroname (tweetThis). Select it and click on edit button. This will open VBA Editor. Don’t freak out. 🙂
Our code needs to do the following stuff:
- Create an xmlhttp object
- Use twitter API’s post method and post the message
- Get the status and display it in debug window (just so that we would know if something went wrong)
- Close the xmlhttp object
I have written the below code, but I am sure you can write your own looking at how simple it is.
Sub tweetThis() Dim xml, tUsername, tPassword, tStatus, tResult Set xml = CreateObject("MSXML2.XMLHTTP") 'get the username entered by you in named range tusername tUsername = Range("tusername") 'get the password entered by you in
tpasswd tPassword = Range("tpasswd") 'get the message entered by you in
named range tmessage tStatus = Range("tmessage")
xml.Open "POST", "http://" & tUsername & ":" & tPassword & "@twitter.com/statuses/update.xml?status=" & tStatus, False xml.setRequestHeader "Content-Type", "content=text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" xml.Send tResult = xml.responsetext 'you can view Twitter’s response in debug window Debug.Print tResult Set xml = Nothing End Sub
Finally, enter your user name and password and a test message and test your code
If everything is fine, you should be able to tweet from that spreadsheet. Here is a sample message if you don’t know what to tweet:
Wow, http://chandoo.org/wp just posted a cool new way to make your own twitter client
You can easily extend this code to check someones status message, DM or message someone or analyze twitter stream. For processing twitter data you can use DOM parser objects from VBA.
Download Twitter from Excel Application and Play around with the code
Go ahead and download the twitter from excel app and learn by opening the code etc.