Twitter replies in your inbox without giving out your login data?

There's been quite an uproar in the blogosphere about the sale of Twply, a service that would allow you to get email updates every time someone sends you a reply on Twitter. The issue is that Twply asked users for their Twitter login data to get their services, and then stored this information.

This would not be that much of a problem, if Twply hadn't been sold for $1200 on Sitepoint. A lot of people considered this quite a small price to pay for a lot of private user information.

While the maintainers of Twply have now announced that the sale was for traffic and that the user database is not part of the deal, it *is* a bad plan to give out any login data to a third party. This is why oAuth is getting more and more traction.

All that aside, you can get the same functionality Twply offers without having to give any of your data away. All you need is a Yahoo account.

Step 1: Find the data

What we need is a data feed that contains the tweets people send with @yourname in it. This can be done with Twitter's own search. For example to search for all people answering me you can use http://search.twitter.com/search?q=@codepo8.

Twitter search also has a feed of that data, available at: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=%40codepo8.

Step 2: Set up a Yahoo Alert

You can then use this feed and add it to a Yahoo Alert, which either sends you an email when it changes, notifies you on messenger or even sends you a mobile message. To achieve that, all you need is the following URL:

http://alerts.yahoo.com/edit_feedalert.php
?url=http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=%40codepo8
&done=http://alerts.yahoo.com/myalerts.php

Simply change codepo8 to your twitter name and that's that.

Step 3: There is no step 3

That's all there is. Technically the best solution to this problem would be Twitter providing the replies-as-email functionality themselves, but in the interim this should do the trick.

Chris Heilmann
Yahoo Developer Network