Back Up Your Tweets To Your Own Domain With Tweet Nest

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Despite being an enthusiastic Twitter user, there are some things that irritate me about the service. One of them is how all of my tweets seem to fall down a huge black hole once you get to a certain point. There is no search function that allows you to search back through all of your tweets from say last year so if you want to find a particular link that you tweeted last Christmas for example, then you’re pretty much screwed.

That’s why, if you have your own domain, you should seriously consider using a script called Tweet Nest.  This allows you to import all of your existing tweets to your domain up to a limit of 3,200.   Then from that point on, you can backup every new tweet you make so you will end up having a fully searchable, fully indexable customisable record of them all on your site.

Setting it up isn’t too difficult but it isn’t exactly that easy either.   So I will do my best to try and explain it in an easy-to-follow manner.

What You Will Need

According to the Tweet Nest website, as well as a Twitter account and your own paid domain, you also need the following :

Tweet Nest is programmed in PHP and requires a MySQL database to work. It’s been tested in LAMP environments, i.e. Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP. It may work on other types of servers, but you’ll have to figure that out for yourself. The minimum requirements of Tweet Nest are:

  • PHP 5.2 or higher with cURL enabled (or 5.1 with the PECL JSON module installed in addition)
  • MySQL 4.1 or higher

If you have absolutely no idea what all that means (I have to admit to being a bit baffled myself) then ask your web hosting company if they have all that.   If they don’t know either, then maybe you should consider changing your web hosting company.

Once your domain is all set up to handle the requirements specified above, then move onto step 2.

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Move The Installation Files Over To Your Domain

Download the files from the Tweet Nest website and unzip them.   But you MUST keep the folder structure inside the zip folder intact.  Failure to do that will mean the whole thing won’t work.

Now you have to move it over to your domain using your favourite FTP client.   Decide on where you want your tweet nest to go (I decided on – keeping it simple!) and move the files to that location.

Next, go to that location on your website, and assuming everything is working as planned, you will now see a big signup form to set everything else up.

The Easy Basics

Type in your Twitter username, choose your timezone and specify the path to your tweet nest installation.

The Database

OK, here’s where it gets tricky and I only managed this because my web hosting company made it all so easy for me.  You have to make a new MySQL database on your domain.  I can’t explain to you how to make one as each web host has different ways you can make such a database.  My web host had a two-click automated solution which was really simple but some other web hosts may not provide that service and so you would have to make one from scratch.   If you don’t know how to make one, I’m sure you know a 10 year old kid somewhere who does know!

When it is set up, enter the database username, password and name.   You can leave the table prefix at its default setting.   No need to mess around with things that don’t need to be changed.

The Rest

Now for the final stretch.  Specify a password for when you are loading your tweets, specify whether you want a “follow me” button to appear on your page and also enable or disable Smartypants.   This rather nifty feature is, according to its website :

a free web publishing plug-in for Movable Type, Blosxom, and BBEdit that easily translates plain ASCII punctuation characters into “smart” typographic punctuation HTML entities.

In other words, it turns crappy looking typing into smart looking typing.  Well worth keeping, in my opinion.

If you have managed to fill out all the fields, click “submit and set up” and watch it do its magic.

Watch Your Tweets Get Pulled In

Assuming you have configured it correctly, you will now see it start to import all your previous tweets (up to the Twitter-imposed maximum of 3,200) so how long this part takes depends on how many tweets you have.  For me, it only took 5 minutes so it was quite fast.  Just leave it to do its thing.   When it’s done, go to your tweet nest URL that you set up at the beginning and you should see all your tweets sitting there, all in order and organised.  Here’s mine.

Let’s quickly go over some of the benefits of doing this :

ALL Your Tweets Are Fully Searchable & Indexable For All Time

You can search all your tweets right back to the beginning and search engines like Google will pick up your tweet archive and index them all.   Which means that when you make a tweet, it will be preserved for ever.

View Media In Your Tweets As Thumbnails For Easier Searching

Are you looking for that photo that you tweeted about a while back on TwitPic?   Then find it easily by scanning the media thumbnails on your tweet nest.

Customize Your Tweetnest Page

I haven’t got around to customizing my page yet with various backgrounds and different colours, but since the page is hosted on your own domain, you can do whatever you want to it.   Add different colours, insert backgrounds, tables, headers, you name it.   The sky’s the limit.   To give you some ideas, here’s the tweet nest of the tweet nest developer.

So if you have a domain, why not give this a try and see how you like it?   Then come back and let us know in the comments where your tweet nest is so we can take a look!

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