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09 22 2008
Please Enjoy

Typetweets Notes

If you’re a Typesites subscriber, or noticed some of the links popping up around the intertubes, you probably have already seen Typetweets. For those of you who haven’t, it’s a quick look at typographic discussions happening across Twitter. If you’re looking for more info on that, check out the launch post.

Since it went live last week, I’ve received some questions about it and thought I’d take the time to answer them here. Feel free to ask more in the comments or share your thoughts as well, feedback is greatly appreciated.

“On which […] keywords did you search twitter?”

As of right now, there are eleven of them. Seems Twitter has a very strange limit for this, unless I’m mistaken. I’m working on creating a way to include more terms in the near future, however. For giggles, here are the current terms:

For the first few days it was live, Typetweets was one of the initial terms. Obviously this is hardly an extensive list, and if you have suggestions I’d love to hear them. There is a caveat that makes things a bit difficult however, if the term has any other uses, we end up pulling in tweets that don’t have anything to do with typography. For example, there is apparently a hotel or something named Clarendon that people like to discuss, a lot.

A term that I’m hesitant to include as well is font as it’s used so frequently, and by so many people, that it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. But I’m sure I’ll turn it on and off intermittently at times. Oh, the power…

“Will there be a filter function?”

Highly likely, there’s quite a few Helvetica haters out there who surely don’t want to read about people watching the Helvetica film.

“Do you mind sharing what’s under the hood?”

It’s a relatively simple thing in theory, but playing nice with Twitter’s servers complicates things a little. Essentially, this is what happens:

  1. A cron job runs a PHP script every five minutes.
  2. The PHP script sends a query out to Twitter, and gets the tweets back as data.
  3. The data gets parsed through a decent bit of Regex to make it more useful.
  4. The result is stored as a file on my server, so that when people view Typetweets, I’m not using any of Twitter’s servers to supply the data.
  5. A bit of Javascript parses the data when you load the page and you enjoy reading.

“I’m ruined! How am I supposed to get any work done if there are 100 tweets to check out on typography?!”

That I cannot help you with unfortunately.


I hope that answers a few people’s questions, but feel free to ask more. There’s no timeline for updates to Typetweets, but I already have a few upgrades figured out and just need to find time to add them, as well as some updates to the Typesites design. Reviews will also resume this week.

Over to you folks.



  1. This is a really cool idea. I’ve already wasted countless hours refreshing the page. It’s interesting to see how many people are aware and actively discuss typography, whereas to a newcomer to the community (such as myself), it seems like a fairly close-knit group.

    Looking forward to improvements in the future (hopefully the limit on search queries can be increased!), and congratulations on the launch.

  2. Any chance of using/releasing the scripts for other purposes? Really cool by the way, nice job Kyle.

  3. Its a brilliant idea, one that could be used for so many purposes!

    I’ve looked at it off and on for the last few days just to chuckle at some of the oh-so-strange things people use Typography references for.

  4. RSS, please?

  5. I have been refreshing it about every 5 minutes for the last 2 days. Very clean layout. I love being able to watch the content update with typography related ideas. I have also been tweeting your site every now and then. I love it, totally addicted! Good job. (I also have to make sure I include a typography something in there so I can stay in the top two lines.)