Check your Twitter WordPress plugins

If your WordPress site displays your latest tweets, or uses any kind of unofficial Twitter widget, you should check it supports the new API. You should do this today. If your plugin is not up to date with the new API, it WILL stop working on or shortly after March 5th. I’m not trying to scare you – it is a thing.

Doing a quick search for ‘latest tweets‘ in the WordPress plugin directory the top five results do not support the new Twitter API. Sorting the list by the newest plugins, only one in the first four is compatible. Just this handful will account for thousands of broken sites come next week.

Here’s how to check yours.

How do I know if my Twitter plugin is going to break on March 5th?

1. Was the plugin last updated before August 2012? 

This is a dead give away. Unless the author is psychic (or a time traveller) they will not have been able to develop a compatible plugin before this time.

Check if the plugin can be updated from your WordPress admin area and update it if needed. If the plugin is listed on then check the Last Updated date. If the most recent code modification was pre-August then it definitely won’t be compatible. If it’s newer, dig deeper …


2. Has the plugin ever asked you to log into Twitter?

All new Twitter API functions require authentication (connecting to a Twitter account). This adds complexity to the development of a plugin so many plugins do not ask for authentication, especially those written entirely in JavaScript.

If your plugin doesn’t support authentication then it won’t be compatible. If it does, keep digging …


3. Does the code reference the old API version?

A quick search though any code base should throw up some URLs that look something like this:

That may be broken up into code logic, like:
SomeURL + '/1/' + someStuff ...

Regardless of how it’s buried in code, the /1/ is the smoking gun. The new API will read /1.1/ If you can’t find this version number ask a developer to look deeper for you, If it’s not present then the plugin is not compatible.

The search API has also been consolidated into the main REST API, so any reference to also indicates out of date code.


4. Contact the author

Most developers publishing community plugins want to be identified. If author information isn’t obvious from your admin area or in the directory, then check the code for contacts details. Authors often put their name and email (or Twitter handle) at the top of their files.

Just drop them a line saying how you’ve enjoyed using their work and would like to know if it’s compatible with version 1.1 of the Twitter API. If not, are they planning on releasing an update before March 5th?


Use an official widget if possible


For simple functions that display tweets, Twitter would much rather you use an embedded timeline as opposed to third party software that uses the API. These will obviously be in line with Twitter’s increasingly stringent Display Requirements. (Note “requirements”, not “guidelines”).

So, I recommend using an official widget to avoid getting told off.

However, I know a lot of people will want to keep their existing design when the old API switches off and people will be looking for drop-in replacements.


Use my Latest Tweets widget if you like.

If you choose to ignore Twitter display requirements you may find yourself looking for a drop-in replacement for your current, imminently doomed widget.

I’ve written a Latest Tweets plugin that will continue to work and you’re welcome to have it. It’s available in the WordPress plugin directory here. It may not be exactly what you need and the HTML isn’t customisable, but I’ll be working on that.

If you’re a developer, you can use its underlying library as a starting point for your own compatible plugin.

If you need any help with your Twitter app (WordPress or otherwise) I do consultancy in this area so get in touch and I’ll happily chat to you about your situation..


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