Wednesday, December 23, 2009

TwitterFeed, the API, and the Perils of Poor Documentation

I have been trying to use TwitterFeed to post to my Facebook and Twitter statuses, setting my URL shortener to, which I like because of the analytics it provides.  However due to my own short attention span, I didn't bother to read how the third-party API works and fed it my password instead of the API key (below), thinking all the while how weird it was that TwitterFeed would store my password and display it in cleartext on the screen (at least they gave me a "hide this" option).

When I saw that my posts continued using TinyURL, I disabled the TwitterFeed service and did some research, where I found out that your API Key is not the same as your password.  As one of the more technically- and detailed-oriented people I know, I should have realized this, so shame on me for that.  However shame on TwitterFeed for not taking the two hours to create an inline explanation of what an API key is (or the two days to create robust inline linking to all of the URL shortener services API key pages so that the user could get their key without ever leaving the TwitterFeed site).  If I was this close to dropping their service with my top Computer Science program degree and career spent in IT, imagine how many ordinary users who encounter this puzzle must simply decide the service is not worth the effort.  Even worse, a simple search on their support forum shows that many others have complained about the same problem and even gotten replies from TwitterFeed employees, so what are they waiting for to fix the problem?

(the TwitterFeed URL shortener settings)

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