Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Building a Twitter clone : Live Framework

with 3 comments

In a recent blog entry I chastised (rather rudely I must admit) Mary-Jo Foley for her assertion that:

Microsoft could simply do a Twitter clone … and reap similar results


My point was that it doesn’t matter whether or not Microsoft could build a service with the same features, Twitter have already stolen a march because they got there first and already have the all-important footfall which is only going to increase thanks to the network effect.

Nonetheless I’ve been considering how one could build a near-Twitter-clone because it maps very well onto a technology that has been interesting me of late. That particular technology, the Live Framework (currently in beta), in concert with Windows Live Messenger collectively contain all the necessary pieces required to build a Twitter clone as I’ll explain.

Live Messenger has the notion of a personal status message (PSM) that is very similar to the notion of a tweet in that it is a short textual message that a user sets and is stored in a data centre somewhere. A user’s PSM is accessible using the Live Framework as ably demonstrated by Scott Lovegrove in his blog entry LiveFX + Windows Live ID Client SDK = Safer Program.

Whilst Live Messenger enables a user to have a personal status message it doesn’t store a history of them which is basically the whole premise of Twitter and that is where the ability to access the PSM via the Live Framework comes in. It would be eminently possible for a 3rd party application to implement a resource script that copied each new occurrence of a PSM to a data store somewhere within Live Mesh. That 3rd party application then accesses that data store (for which it has been delegated the authority to do) and aggregates all of the users’ PSMs on a website in exactly the same way that Twitter does.

The notion of “following” someone is already built-in – we simply follow our Live Messenger buddies. Given that Twitter currently has approximately 7million members where Windows Live has over half a billion this is one area where Microsoft already have the advantage.

I’m not saying all this would be straightforward but neither would it be the most complex service ever implemented either. If anyone wants to pay me and some friends to build it then get in touch 🙂


P.S. I wrote a blog entry Microsoft Presence. A rival to Twitter? back in September 2007 where I reasoned that Microsoft could build a Twitter-compete using Live Messenger. They didn’t do that and now its reall rather too lat!


Written by Jamiet

April 4, 2009 at 10:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Now this I certainly agree with! With Messenger and Windows Liveavailable to all Windows Phones -the ability to blog via phone or PC is also present! People/friends will be able to follow your thoughts, along with any blog entries (for a larger amount of information). One can follow as you "Live" through Windows live perhaps….no? alright then


    April 4, 2009 at 5:19 pm

  2. Great idea! Unfortunately a solution using the existing LiveFX feature set is less than ideal.It would be best if you didn’t have to poll the heck out of Profiles. Subscribing to change notifications would be preferable, however you can’t currently subscribe to the profiles feed or to individual profiles.Even if you successfully poll the heck out of the feed without running into the throttling limits, you can still miss rapid-fire updates. Resource script triggers would be a great way to catch all updates, however Update triggers aren’t currently persisted in the mesh. And, triggers currently can only be associated with individual entries, not an entire feed. Furthermore, Profiles and Contacts are special in that they are external stores and therefore aren’t currently able to persist even Delete triggers, unlike other LiveFX resource types which currently persist Delete triggers. See my triggers blog post for details.My ideal feature set for this Twitter clone scenario would involve the ability to store reusable resource scripts at the /Scripts URL and then reference these scripts from multiple persistent triggers on *feeds*, not just on entries. External stores such as Profiles and Contacts would then need to support these persistent feed triggers.


    April 4, 2009 at 7:35 pm

  3. Oran,As usual you cut through the trees so we can see the wood. Yeah, it seems that all the pieces are not "quite" there yet in LiveFX.-Jamie


    May 12, 2009 at 8:12 am

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