Twitter has had phenomenal growth and reaches millions of people daily. From the outside looking in, it seems they were able to accomplish this while not following the traditional path of getting everything exactly right. Particularly recently, Twitter has a high rate of downtime and a high response time. Combined with the “Older Tweets are not available…” message, I looked into some of the free Twitter alternative services that you could host on your own server like Status.net and Sharetronix.
Twitter is far from the only micro-blogging platform available. It just happens to be the biggest and like the problems with IM in the 90’s, your friends (mostly) need to be on the same network for maximum benefit. Sites like Twitter and Yammer host the microblogging network for you but Status.Net and Sharetronix can be run from your own server and give you control over the configuration.
Status.net is an open-source micro-blogging platform. It’s used by Motorola, the Mozilla Foundation, and other enterprise networks while powering the Twitter alternative, Identi.ca. They also offer a hosted version for an annual subscription. Status.net was easy to setup. You download the package, upload it to your server, and then configure it with the information for a database you’ve already created.
With the information in place, the install goes through quickly.
Once setup, you can dive into the Administration of the network to customize the look and behavior of your microblogging site, locking it down or opening it up.
While many of the microblogging platforms have an API comparable to Twitter’s to allow easily modifying an app to work with your service, Status.net has a dedicated desktop application for Mac, Linux, and Windows.
Sharetronix is an open-source microblogging platform with a touted 8 Step installer. It followed the same sort of setup where you use a MySQL database and plug in the db information into the configuration. It was easy to follow and also allows more involved things like using Facebook Connect or Sign In With Twitter to access the network.
You can customize Sharetronix just like Status.net although I found the Status.net screens to be easier to follow. Sharetronix does allow you to create custom themes though which would be great for a business wanting to depend on and take ownership of their updates.
Then you’ll have your site fully up and running with more options than Twitter and hopefully better up-time. The only problem is getting people into your network.
Sharetronix had a mobile version worth mentioning because that helps counter the “twitter apps vs no Sharetronix apps” argument although it too has a comparable API for easy modification. The only gotcha to the mobile version I ran into was if you use Sign in with Twitter for your account, you’ll need to visit the normal desktop version of the site to sign in using your Twitter credentials and then switch back to the mobile version. Sharetronix is also supposed to allow LDAP integration but I didn’t explore that topic any further.
Check out Sharetronix as another option for your microblogging platform.