Again, this is for one my current projects: my mate Phil’s digital DJ tips site…

OK – so there’s loads of plugin’s out there that do this kind of thing but I’m not after anything fancy (or bloated), I’m happy to code this into the theme files with a bit of PHP and well – it’s something slightly new to learn …

Primary requirements:

  • We want this thing to use the SimplePie feed parser and cacheing system, as already included with a standard WordPress install. This will copy the latest tweets into WordPress and avoid running-off to bother Twitter every time our WP site gets a visit. This will also make the thing more robust as Twitter does occasionally… fail.
  • A raw Twitter feed will include your user name at the beginning of each tweet. This unnecessary when the blog and tweets are from the same person/identity/brand so we’ll need to remove that.
  • We need the SimplePie cache to expire fairly regularly – not enough to bust Twitter’s balls with extra requests – but enough to keep the tweets fresh
  • We may want to trim the tweets (yes even less than 140 characters!) so they fit on one line without having the set an explicit width or css “overflow:hidden;”. [This is a graphic design call here as I like backgrounds fills to match the variable length of text (inline) rather than be fixed-width with trailing whitespace of block level element – makes each tweet look like the unique thing it is.]
  • Once this is done it goes into a simple carousel to rotate through the last x tweets.

The code comes in a couple of pieces:

The main engine: get the twitter feed – pack it up and process it.

I put the following into an include file to keep it all wrapped together for easy access. This code mostly based on the excellent WordPress codex article “Function Reference/fetch feed“. The String replace reference came from the classic tizag PHP guide and the shorten to the nearest whole word came from somewhere else

    <?php
    // Get RSS Feed(s)
    include_once(ABSPATH . WPINC . '/feed.php');

<pre><code>// Get a SimplePie feed object from the specified feed source. CHANGE THE USER ID BELOW!
$rss = fetch_feed('http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/126881491.rss');
if (!is_wp_error( $rss ) ) : // Checks that the object is created correctly
    // Figure out how many total items there are, but limit it to 5.
    $maxitems = $rss-&amp;gt;get_item_quantity(5);

    // Build an array of all the items, starting with element 0 (first element).
    $rss_items = $rss-&amp;gt;get_items(0, $maxitems);
endif;

// shorten string function
function short_str( $str, $len, $cut = true ) {
    if ( strlen( $str ) &amp;lt;= $len ) return $str;

    return ( $cut ? substr( $str, 0, $len ) : substr( $str, 0, strrpos( substr( $str, 0, $len ), ' ' ) ) ) . '...';
}
?&amp;gt;
</code></pre>

&lt;div id=&quot;djt-twitter-feed&quot;&gt;&lt;!-- djt classes and ID to be replaced by something that is useful to you --&gt;
    &lt;ul id=&quot;djt-tweets&quot; class=&quot;jcarousel-skin&quot;&gt;
        &lt;?php if ($maxitems == 0) echo '&lt;li&gt;No tweets!&lt;/li&gt;';
        else
        // Loop through each feed item and display each item as a hyperlink.
        foreach ( $rss_items as $item ) : ?&gt;
        &lt;li class=&quot;cfn&quot;&gt;
            &lt;span&gt;&lt;a href='&lt;?php echo $item-&gt;get_permalink(); //or hardcode link to Twitter homepage ?&gt;'
            title='&lt;?php echo 'Posted '.$item-&gt;get_date('j F Y | g:i a'); ?&gt;'&gt;
            &lt;?php //get tweets (but remove twitter ID before displaying)
                $djt_twitter_tweet = $item-&gt;get_title();
                $djt_twitter_tweet = str_replace(&quot;YourTwitterUsername: &quot;, &quot;&quot;, $djt_twitter_tweet) ;
                echo short_str( $djt_twitter_tweet , 140, false) //OK - not actually doing any shortening with this line now ;
            ?&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/span&gt;
        &lt;/li&gt;
        &lt;?php endforeach; ?&gt;
    &lt;/ul&gt;
&lt;/div&gt;

Set the cache expiry in functions.php

// Alter expiry lenght on feeds (set in seconds)
add_filter( 'wp_feed_cache_transient_lifetime', create_function('$a', 'return 480;') );

Finally make it pretty with jCarousel

The idea was to have one tweet visible at a time – scrolling/rotating through the list. Grab your copy of jCarousel (it’s much bigger than jCarousel lite but by the time I’d figured out the trouble with my wp_head() it was time to leave well enough alone. To be revisited when there’s some time to optimize.) I’ll not go into the CSS – that’s there online.

    &lt;!-- jCarousel --&gt;
    &lt;script type=&quot;text/javascript&quot;&gt;

<pre><code>function mycarousel_initCallback(carousel) { };

jQuery(document).ready(function() {
    jQuery('#djt-tweets').jcarousel({
        auto: 8,
        wrap: 'last',
        vertical: false,
        scroll: 1,
        animation: 0,
        initCallback: mycarousel_initCallback
    });
});
&amp;lt;/script&amp;gt;
</code></pre>