If you've been a user of FriendFeed for the past few months, you've probably noticed how slow the importing of tweets has been. But something changed a couple days ago - tweets started showing up almost instaneously in feeds, after they were posted on Twitter. That's because FriendFeed is testing a new type of backend feed that Twitter is developing.
This new feed is interesting because up until now, FriendFeed has been one of the few services with access to Twitter's XMPP feed. Some have called the XMPP feed the “fire hose,” because it sends out a massive amount of data quickly, as opposed to importing a feed by way of RSS, which is limited and slow. But XMPP has been anything but fast these past few months, so a new solution was needed.
This new feed is still experimental, but here's what we know: It's HTTP-based, and, at least for FriendFeed, it will replace the XMPP feed. Twitter is using FriendFeed as a testing ground for it, but eventually, if it works, it should be opened to other services. “Hopefully we can identify what works and what doesn't. Whatever we determine from this test, will inform how we move forward,” Twitter's Jason Goldman tells me.
And it has been a bit glitchy so far. When FriendFeed first implemented it on Wednesday, it was nearly instaneous - FriendFeed co-founder Paul Buchheit sent out a tweet and one second later it was on FriendFeed. But in subsequent days, the feed slowed down quite a bit, sometimes taking as much as 20 minutes for a tweet to come though. It was a bug that Twitter believes it has fixed, according to Buchheit.
Twitter is an important part of FriendFeed, as tweets make up a high percentage of content on the site. Of course, Twitter is becoming an important part of a lot of services, so hopefully this HTTP-based feed will one day mean near-instantaneous tweet access for all.
[photo: flickr/uwe hermann]