I found myself in need of an efficient way to download entire Twitter timelines to Excel in order to conduct a thematic analysis of Twitter topics for our research. I decided to share what I discovered. Here’s how to do it:
1. Go to http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/userid.xml?count=x
2. Replace “userid” with your Twitter username
3. You’ll also need to replace the “x” at the end with your total number of tweets which can be found on your home page. This will download all of the tweets in your user timeline.
4. If you’d like to download your friend timeline (i.e., not just all of your tweets, but the tweets of everyone you are following), then replace “user_timeline” with “friends_timeline.”
5. A dialogue box will appear that will ask for your Twitter username and password. Once you’ve entered your username and password, you will have a page of output in xml format. Save this file by going to File->Save As in your browser. I recommend using FIrefox because Safari doesn’t do a good job of saving xml files.
Mac Users: Here’s the bad news, you will need to use Excel in windows in order to import this file. I was unable to find a way to get Mac Excel to import the xml file correctly. If you know how, please post in the comments.
6. Open a worksheet in Excel and click on Data->XML->Import then choose the file you saved during the previous step.
7. Excel will show a dialog box that reads “The specified XML source does not refer to a schema. Excel will create a schema based on the XML source data.” Click “OK”
8. Excel will then produce another dialogue box that asks where you want to put the data. Select “XML list in existing worksheet” and click “OK.”
9. Voila! You will now have an Excel file that contains all of your tweets. Because Twitter is by no means a static medium, you may want to download tweets from time to time. In order to download new Tweets since your last download, find the id# of the last Tweet you downloaded (should be the third column in your Excel file) and input it into the ID field of this url:
Update 10-26-09: Currently, Twitter will only return 200 tweets at a time. If you want to download more than 200 tweets, you can download them incrementally by “page” with the link: http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/userid.xml?page=x (the most recent updates are on page “1”). This application downloads your user timeline automatically: http://johannburkard.de/blog/programming/java/backup-twitter-tweets-with-twitterbackup.html
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