New Method to Auto-Tweet Map Updates

Giving away our age here, but back in 2013 we wrote a blog post reviewing various services that automate the Tweeting of RSS items. The use case here is: when there's a map update (“Jetsons was added Carl's Shrimp Shack”) we want that update to be Tweeted to Twitter. We needed a service that periodically checks the RSS feed for us and does the Tweeting without us having to worry.

Our review was in-depth and gorgeously written, and it found problems with all the services except for one. IFTTT was the clear winner: simple interface, no dumb limitations.

Fast forward 23 years to today, and now IFTTT has imposed a dumb limitation. Previously, they had a rate limit of 100 Tweets per day. That was not a big problem for us. We hit that limit maybe once a week, sometimes more and sometimes less. But we usually hit it later in the day, and 100 updates in a day is a lot - who's reading all those? Haven't you had enough for the day? So it didn't bother us too much. Granted, you would expect the alert email they send to say something like, “You've hit the limit of 100 per day, if you want to increase your daily rate, pay us!.” But they didn't say that. There wasn't a paid option for a higher tier (or at least, it wasn't presented to us obviously - we didn't really dig).

So! Pinball Map Ryan was on vacation last week, and was kind of doing a new routine ya know? So wasn't closely monitoring the map and stuff? But he did notice that for 3 days in a row he was getting the “You've hit the limit” emails, at like 7am each time. After the third one he read the email closer and saw that they changed the daily allotment to 25 per day! Still no option to pay for better service. Just an unannounced service cut.

Friends - this is why we try not to rely on third party services. We make our own shirts, our own hand sanitizers, host our own map tile server, host our own podcast, et cetera and so on. Because when you rely too heavily on someone else's service, that service has a good chance of unexpectedly changing.

So we hereby officially rescind our recommendation of IFTTT as a cool service that rocks. Now it is a bad service that sucks. Plus their user interface has gotten progressively worse over the years.

But Pinball Map, what is your new solution to this important thing?

We are now using our own script and hosting it on our own server. The script is a simple python script, based on this twitterbot. We have a cron that runs the script regularly, and the script checks for new items in the feed. If there's a new item (e.g. a map update), it Tweets the Title and Link of that RSS item. Simple!

If you want another managed solution, we've heard that Microsoft Flow is good. Not sure about its dumb limitations.

Thank you for reading this and we hope you stay safe out there.