Using PingMe With Twitter

2008-01-06 19:00:00 -0500

We’re big Twitter fans, and for quite some time we’ve wanted to allow PingMe users to interact with our service through Twitter. A number of folks have asked for it and, selfishly, we also wanted this capability for ourselves. Now, if you’re a twittaholic, you can access all mobile PingMe functionality straight through the service you know and love.

On a side note, this feature also introduces an alternate way to use SMS messages with PingMe. Previously, in order to send and receive SMS messages with our users (in a cost-efficient way) PingMe would send reminders through a provider’s sms-to-email gateways. These gateway’s are provided by most (but unfortunately not all) cell carriers, and some people pay an extra fee for the capability. Now that we’ve added support Twitter, you can use their service as a universal transport for SMS or even Instant Messaging.

In this post I’ll step you through the process of using PingMe with Twitter. Various details about how messages to create and update pings in this way are covered in older articles and our help section, so I’m going to stick to just the bits pertinent to Twitter.

To get started I’ll assume you already have a Twitter account, and are logged in to their web site. To be able to send get messages from PingMe on twitter, you have to “follow” the PingMe twitter account, ‘gpm’, like so:

Follow gpm on Twitter

Now that you’ve got your twitter account set up, log in to PingMe and click that “Add target” link under the Targets listing on the right side of the page. There’s not much to do but select ‘Twitter’ from the type drop-down and then enter your username on twitter:

Create Twitter Target

Note that if you skipped the first step, where you follow gpm on Twitter, you’ll get an error in that last step.

Now that you’ve got a Twitter target for your account, you can have your pings sent there just like any other target:

Select Twitter Target

So let’s try creating a ping from Twitter. We’ll use the web interface for our example, but keep in mind that you can do this in all the ways you interact with Twitter – including from your phone or IM. What we are doing is sending a direct message to gpm (‘d gpm …’) that contains a create-ping instruction.

Create Twitter Ping

The syntax is very similar to the format we use for creating remote pings from e-mail and SMS. The ‘5h’ tells ping me “five hours”, the “p:10” tells us to pester you every ten minutes until you respond with ‘done’, and the ‘t:t’ tells us that you want this ping sent to your Twitter targets (click here for info on setting default targets). The only new trick here is the addition of the ‘+’ sign. Since Twitter is conversational, we have to have a way of distinguishing your create messages from your updates, so after the direct message bit, you begin your ping creation with a plus sign.

Updates, as you might have expected, are simpler. The only caveat is that we don’t necessarily know which ping you are trying to update, so we assume it is the most recent one sent to you. You can send an update like this:

Update Twitter Ping

That message will update the most recent ping sent to you to be sent again in 30 minutes.

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