17 August 2011

Caching your Twitter feed on your website in PHP

Instead of reinventing the wheel I'm going to copy the script found at css-tricks.com (click here)
function getTwitterStatus($userid){
$url = "http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/$userid.xml?count=1";

$xml = simplexml_load_file($url) or die("could not connect");

       foreach($xml->status as $status){
       $text = $status->text;
       echo $text;

//my user id kenrick1991

I'm leaving the original author's Twitter ID in there, but obviously you'll change this to yours.

This function will retrieve the most recent Tweet from your feed (see the "count=1" variable in the URL). But it will request this every time the page loads.

The most simple caching strategy is to write your Twitter status to disk, and when your page loads check the timestamp of the file against the value returned by time(). If it exceeds whatever threshold you deem appropriate you can reload the feed from the web.

Rather than boring you with code that demonstrates the use of file_exists(), filemtime(), and file_get_contents() I'll save you a Google search by highlighting the way to serialize and deserialize a simplexml object so that it is suitable for writing to disk (or database).

Here's a routine to dump the Twitter simplexml object to disk:

private function updateCache() {
        $xml = $this->xml->asXML();
        $handle = fopen($this->cacheFile,'w');
        fwrite($handle, $xml);

And here is how to retrieve it:

$xmlCache = file_get_contents($this->cacheFile);
$this->xml = simplexml_load_string($xmlCache);

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