In December, the server that hosted Twitual suffered a catastrophic disk failure. We were only able to recover a few older files at that time, but key pieces needed to get the service running again were missing. While we do have a prototype for a new version of Twitual in development, it is not yet in a fully usable state.
However, just last night, we discovered an old development copy of the code which was much more up-to-date than the pieces that we had attempted to recover from the corrupted disk. While it was still quite a bit older than was was running on the site at the time of the crash, we have been able to integrate it with current Twitter API libraries, and our quick patches appear to be working.
Because this recovered base code was written to an older version of the Twitter API, the code to handle API request limits is no longer correct. As a result, you may see situations where you get a list of friends, but zero followers, or vice versa. If this happens, wait about 15 minutes or so, then try again.
You thought we were dead, didn’t you? Just another abandoned ghost service, floating along in the Internet like a mysteriously vacant boat in the Bermuda Triangle. Nope! Still here!
If you haven’t heard already, there’s a new prototype in the works (no, really — you can check out the Twitual prototype). It is very bare-bones at the moment (duh, it’s a prototype), but you should get the general idea of where things are going. My next steps are to add in functionality to let you drill into people’s details, add some real UI/design, improve handling of errors, and restructure the underlying code a bit.
Things might have been further along before now, except that I had been running into some technical problems. I won’t bore you with the details here, but I posted about it on my personal blog: Dealing with UTF in node.js
After the initial public announcement of Twitual, things took off pretty well. Unfortunately, we discovered a sporadic bug that was causing us to sometimes get into a never-ending loop requesting information from Twitter, and resulting in “Twitter Overload” errors on our site. We’ve identified and corrected that problem, so if you were having trouble before, please feel free to try again.
We know that some of you were frustrated by the 5,000 combined followers/friends cap that was in place. We are raising the limit to 10,000 now. After we give some more time for the service to shake down, we’ll try raising that up some more, and hopefully one day we can eliminate it completely.
And yes, it’s obvious that we need some slick-looking, AJAX progress bars to display while Twitual is fetching and processing all the follower/friend information. That will come in time, as will some other niceties.
Thanks to everybody who has tried Twitual so far. Make sure you follow @twitual on Twitter to keep up with the latest news. Keep spreading the word!