Mm Computers

update is status/update.json. Read the API, and you'll notice that it supports four different output formats, all of which are a pain to parse within a script, unfortunately. One of those is json, and it re-occurs here as the update-receiving URL address.

If you've already worked with Web sites from the command line, you know there are lots of illegal characters that cannot be included in URLs and, by extension, on command lines of utilities that interact with the Web, such as curl. As a result, one of the tasks of our send.twitter.update script will be to make all of the necessary substitutions before sending the new status message to the Twitter server.

On a lightweight service like Twitter, I think it's probably crazy to go through too many hoops to ensure security, so I actually will be including the account name and password in the script. Given some of the suggested applications we'll explore later, it makes sense to create a new Twitter account just for the command-line updates, in which case, a shared password isn't that big a problem anyway.

Here's a first stab at a simple stu (sent twitter update) script:

#!/bin/sh user="DaveTaylor" pass="--mypw-- " curl="/usr/bin/curl"

$curl --basic --user "$user:$pass" --data-ascii \ "status=~echo [email protected] | tr 1 1 '+'"" \ ""

exit 0

In use, simply type in the script name and desired status update:

$ stu Writing makes me sleepy

{"user":{"name":"Dave Taylor","description":"Blogger, entrepreneur, public ^speaker, dad!","screen_name":"DaveTaylor","profile_image_url": ^"http:\/\/\/twitter_production\/profile_images\ ^735534842\/dticon_normal.gif","location":"Boulder, ^Colorado","url":"http:\A/\/","id":9973392, ^"protected":false},"created_at":"Sat Jan 12 21:31:37 +8888 ^2008","truncated":false,"text":"Writing makes me


Eek. That's a scary output, isn't it? So, before wrapping up this column, I strongly suggest that immediately after the invocation of curl, you append >& /dev/null, so you can discard the output. If you want to be fancy, check $? to see whether it's nonzero, but let's talk about that level of improvement in the next column.■

Dave Taylor is a 26-year veteran of UNIX, creator of The Elm Mail System, and most recently author of both the best-selling Wicked Cool Shell Scripts and Teach Yourself Unix in 24 Hours, among his 16 technical books. His main Web site is at, and he also offers up tech support at Follow him on Twitter if you'd like:

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