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Using Excel (the real one) to read Twitter

You can use Microsoft Excel to read your Tweets, incoming and outgoing.

by Office Watch

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Yesterday we talked about SpreadTweet, a program that looks like Excel but really lets you to read and send tweets without being caught by your boss.

Excel itself can be used to read incoming Tweets and your own updates. It’s even easier to hide from your ‘superiors’ because it’s just another worksheet and it will work on systems that don’t allow extra programs to be installed.

Here’s how in Excel 2007; the same features are available in Excel 2003.

Incoming tweets

To view tweet messages sent to you …

First, open up your Twitter home page after login; the one that shows all the incoming tweets from the people your follow. Look down the right-hand column for the ‘RSS feed’ link, copy that link – it will look something like this http://twitter.com/statuses/friends_timeline/nnnnn.rss - with numbers replacing the ‘n’.

Start from a blank worksheet, go to the Data tab and click on the ‘from Web’ button. Paste the link into the web address:

Excel 2007 - Web Query with Twitter RSS image from Using Excel (the real one) to read Twitter at Office-Watch.com

As you can see, Excel has recognized the RSS feed as an XML file. Let Excel choose all the feed (ie leave the yellow/black arrow at top left).

Click on Import and wait. Excel will alert you that “the XML source does not refer to a schema” – click OK, then place the results where you wish. We’ve put them in a new worksheet.

Excel 2007 - Web Query with Twitter RSS raw results image from Using Excel (the real one) to read Twitter at Office-Watch.com

There are many columns from the RSS feed you don’t need to see or they are duplicates (like guid and link4). Right-click on those columns and choose ‘Hide’. We leave only ‘description3’, ‘pubdate’ and ‘guid’.

To keep it readable, select the ‘description3’ column and choose ‘Wrap Text’ so you can see an entire tweet.

You can format the incoming columns in any way you like.

Your updates

Twitter also has an RSS feed of the tweets you have sent.

Use the same steps as for incoming tweets (above) using the RSS feed from your updates Twitter page. The RSS feed is on the right-hand column and looks like http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/nnnnnn.rss with numbers replacing the ‘n’.

The columns are the same as for incoming tweets. Hide and format the columns as you see fit.

Refresh and configuring

To automatically refresh the worksheet return to the Data tab and click Connections. The two connections (incoming and my updates) will be listed with standard names. Click one of the connections and choose Properties.

Excel 2007 - Connection properties for Twitter RSS image from Using Excel (the real one) to read Twitter at Office-Watch.com

Set the refresh for whatever time you’d like and check the box to connect and update the worksheet when you open the worksheet.

To make the connections clearer, rename the connection and put in a few words of description.

Note: the two RSS feeds can also be accessed with your username instead of the numbers eg http://twitter.com/statuses/friends_timeline/Myusername.rss and http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/MyUserName.rss

In the end you have two worksheets; one for messages sent to you and other for tweets you’ve sent.

Excel 2007 - Two Twitter worksheets image from Using Excel (the real one) to read Twitter at Office-Watch.com

Sending

There’s no direct way to send tweets or direct messages – but I suspect it’s only a matter of time before someone cuts some VBA for Excel code to do just that.  Let us know if you make or find that code.

 

SpreadTweet can do things that Excel can’t. The fake Excel parses each tweet so that user names and web links are clickable.

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Article posted: Thursday, 23 April 2009

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