Social Media

Twitter recommits to openness with relaunched embeddable timelines


Twitter has been going through a transition of late. As the company matures it has been placing a stronger emphasis on revenue generation, much to the chagrin of developers many of whom have accused the company of shutting down its previously open ecosystem.

But today Twitter has effectively recommitted itself to openness and released an updated embeddable timeline service providing site owners and web developers with access to Twitter content across the web.

Like embeddable tweets, which allow website owners to place individual tweets into their sites, Twitter’s embeddable timeline allows site owners to place a real-time stream of tweets into their pages.

Re-tweeting the widget

This is an update of Twitter’s previous embeddable widget, which was (to be honest), not the prettiest and was severely limited in the options available. The old widget maker, which you can see below, has been taken offline. This new system has been designed to provide users with a greater ability to interact with tweets directly from third party sites. Twitter also says that the new system has been designed to work with modern browsers and mobile browsers (we can confirm it’s responsive).

Twitter’s defunct widget maker;

Twitter's old widget set up
Twitter’s old public widget set-up. Now removed from the site.
Twitter's old widget
Twitter’s old widget maker showing default settings.

You can see the new embeddable timeline below which comes in four flavors – you can create embeddable widgets for users’ timelines, users’ favourites, users’ Twitter lists, or any search term. Previously Twitter allowed users to create widgets anonymously, without having to log in; now widgets can only be created when logged in and are associated with users’ accounts.

“When you browse websites that have embedded a Twitter timeline, you can now interact with it in the same way you do on Expand Tweets to see photos, media, and more. Start a conversation from the Tweet box, follow users that you discover, and reply to, retweet, or favorite Tweets directly from the page.”

Creating a Twitter Widget

Twitter Widgets are all created through the “Configure a Widget” page, which is available on your profile. Once logged in you can create widgets that show tweets from individual users, their favourites, and their lists. You actually have fewer options with the new widget creator than before; with the old system you could select various background and foreground colours, now you only have the option to change link colours. This is probably down to Twitter’s recent efforts to maintain the authority of its brand.

You do have the added option to “Opt-out of tailoring Twitter” when embedding tweets – this basically customizes the tweets shown according to a user’s preferences.

The final tweet

While this is basically a re-styling of Twitter’s older embeddable timeline system (with a few fewer options) the fact that it has been redeveloped and released to the public shows that the open Twitter which some developers have lamented isn’t gone.

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).