Real-Time Twitpic Images Coming from Chile

When news breaks such as today's massive earthquake in Chile, one of the first places where images show up from the scene is on Twitpic, a popular image-posting service for Twitter users. You can find links to these images on Twitter search by including "twitpic" as one of your search terms, but that's not as useful as seeing thumbnails of the actual images. You have to click each link to see what it contains.

To make it easier to see the images being posted about Chile, I wrote a Java application this morning that uses the Twitter and Twitpic APIs to download thumbnails and display them in reverse chronological order. Each thumbnail can be clicked to open the photo on Twitpic's site.

The application produces a web page and RSS feed, updated every two minutes.

The application is a mashup that does the following:

  1. Downloads a search feed of "twitpic chile" from Twitter in Atom format.
  2. Extracts Twitpic URLs from tweets in that feed.
  3. Calls the Twitpic API to get the thumbnail of each photo as a JPEG image.
  4. Saves the thumbnail to a directory on my server.
  5. Produces a web page and feed of the saved thumbnails, sorted using the creation time of its file.

I'll be releasing it under the GPL when it's done. This application includes support for PubSubHubbub, so subscribers can see new photos show up in real time with clients such as Google Reader.


I've been having trouble getting the application to run without hanging the server, presumably due to connection issues when calling one or both APIs, I turned it off while I look into it.

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