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Tweet-SQL: Interacting with Twitter through SQL Server

Twitter has gotten so popular, even SQL Server is getting in on the act. Confused? Don't be. Check out this new tool for leveraging Twitter in the database.

Nobody needs to be persuaded that Twitter is one of the biggest success stories to come out of the Web 2.0 world so far. Its usefulness varies widely depending on the person using it -- some find it a great way to stay on top of many trending subjects at once, while others use it as an adjunct to email or other person-to-person communications.

And yet, others have ambitions to connect it to other services, write interfaces and syndication systems for it, or perhaps devise as-yet unheralded new ways to consume it (or provide it with data for consumption).

If you're a SQL Server programmer looking for a fast way to make your databases talk to Twitter, consider Tweet-SQL version 3, a third-party (not endorsed or created by Twitter) set of Microsoft SQL Server 2005/2008 stored procedures and CLR assemblies that encapsulate just about all of Twitter's APIs.

Installing and configuring Tweet-SQL is normally done through a GUI. You choose the database and SQL Server and Twitter user accounts you want to use with your particular installation. Likewise, the same GUI is used to remove Tweet-SQL, so it's relatively easy to clean up if you find it's not what you need.

Tweet-SQL's stored procedures all begin with tweet_, so there's little chance of a namespace collision with existing stored procedures. That said, you can always install Tweet-SQL into its own database and work with it from there if you want to minimize the chances of a collision. The internal settings for Tweet-SQL can also be modified either by way of the GUI or via commands issued through its internal stored procedures, so they can be changed within a program or through administrative action.

Many common things that people do with Twitter, but which aren't part of Twitter's native API set, are also supported. For example, the tweet_util_tweetShrink stored procedure abbreviates text in common ways (e.g. "2" for "two", "too", and "to") and even returns a value that lets you know how many characters were shaved off.

A free download lets you try out Tweet-SQL for 30 days. As of this writing, the full version is £25 (about $40 U.S.), though pricing may change. The licensing for the package lets you run it on up to two machines—like one server and one end-user machine—but you're not restricted to using just one Twitter account.

Note that right now there is no automatic tracking of Twitter's API rate limit through Tweet-SQL, so whatever you create using Tweet-SQL, keep these restrictions in mind.

Serdar Yegulalp has been writing about computers and information technology for more than 15 years for a variety of publications, including InformationWeek and Windows Magazine.

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