InstaGIS adds Twitter tracking support

Our core developers have been busy this month, or at least pretending they are. Whatever’s the case, it’s time to announce a new release. Our release 13.2.0 brings a lot of sweet new features to the table.

What’s New

As you might have already noticed, we are all about social networks. We love social networks, not only because we are power users of almost any social network that crosses our paths, but also because they keep robust and well documented APIs that we developers love to play with. And, of course, because social stuff and geolocation tag along really well, so any social info we can append to our already feature rich maps will render them ever richer.

With release 13.2.0 comes a long expected feature that took several weeks to build. We are now capable of connecting to  Twitter’s Stream API to capture and print geolocated tweets. By default, asking the app to print latest tweets will bring the 500 most recent tweest for your viewport.

Most of our examples happen in San Francisco, see?

Most of our examples happen in San Francisco, see?

But we also know that your mileage might vary, so we added a few options to customize the outcome of your twitter capture: first, you are able to query for tweets in a given boundary, polygon or geofence. Your viewport shouldn’t always be the surface you want to monitor, right? Second, we added the feature to query the twitter firehose for a particular term or expression. For this matter, searching for #Giants is the same than searching for giants, meaning the search is case insensitive and searching for a hashtag will bring also tweets that mention the hashed term alone.

What’s Next

As I said, we spent several weeks brewing this new feature. We’re still tuning the engine to display faster, more relevant results, but we also had to wait until we had gathered enough information to display a meaningful collection of past tweets. See, anyone can query Twitter’s API for a given term, but Twitter will respond with a (very) limited amount of tweets, and you’re not free to search past tweets beyond a few days. To achieve that, we were on our own, so we had to design a system to store several million tweets (which eventually grew to billions, by the way) while keeping optimized indexes so you could search by place and term without having to wait for hours.

We are very proud to be the first gis web tool to add twitter search to its core features, but being the first and the best are no excuse to stop besting ourselves.

So that’s it, dear folks. Keep expecting the unexpected and of course go, login to your account (or create one right away!) and play with out twitter toys at will.