How did I come up with TweepML? (part 1 of 4)

The Seattle 2.0 has always been known as a great place to find things related to startup. We had a list of startups and sites, a list of bloggers, a list of events, so it became obvious that we should have a list of entrepreneurs and startups on Twitter. On June of 2009 we launched the Seattle Startup Twitter Directory. You can read John Cook’s blog post about it. People really loved it, particularly the feature where you could enter your Twitter username and we would tell you who you were not following on that list and allowed you to follow them very easily.

Less than a day after we launched that I thought about creating an OPML of that list so people could use it. As I was implementing the OPML to that list I realized OPML was not a great format to represent Twitter users (or people in general). OPML has attributes and elements that had nothing to do with Twitter and it wasn’t much extensible. So it wasn’t that hard to come up in my mind with the TweepML concept.

The first thing I did was to ask Damon Cortesi and Adam Loving, two Seattle-based entrepreneurs who built successful Twitter services, if they knew anything like that. No, they didn’t. I wrote a draft and send it to them, incorporated some feedback and started coding it. As a side note, Damon is the one that came up with the “TweepML” name and the talk was like this:

Me: Hey Damon, do you know any OPML format for lists of Twitter users?
Damon: Not really.
Me: What you think about creating one?
Damon: You mean like a TweepML format?
Me: [Me buying the domain on eNom] That’s a great name. I just bought the domain.
Damon: Damn, you’re fast.

At the time, I thought the format was the end product. Create a TweepML spec, put on the web and tell people about it. That was the plan. It became obvious that I had to “test” the format, so I wrote a C# library to create and manipulate TweepML and Damon created a Ruby library. Then it became clear you had to show how TweepML could be used and that’s how I came up with the service.

I launched the service on Wednesday, September 9 after a few weeks of testing. And then, something really big happened… [to be continued on part 2 of 4]

Marcelo Calbucci

Marcelo Calbucci

I'm a technologist, founder, geek, author, and a runner.