There are a large number of websites that offer Twitter text to image type services and – although I don’t have a need to use any of them myself – I don’t like many of them at all. After a long look around, it seems that most of them plaster branding all over the image or, even worse, link back to their own website. There was no single service that I was comfortable using.
Edit: With recent changes to the Twitter API, this code will no longer work in its current form. Like us on Facebook to be advised of when the new code is available.
Note: This service is very experimental. You may get errors until we iron the bugs out.
After a play myself, I’ve decided to include a ‘Twitter Image’ service at a soon-to-be-released website that contains a suite of Twitter tools.
Why use Twitter Images?
The nature of text to image functionality was popularised years ago when users of bulletin boards would use Perl to add a dynamic image signature below their posts. The bulletin boards didn’t (and still won’t) allow any kind of dynamic code to be executed so savvy users would render an image under each post that itself would be dynamically created in real time.
Modern day, the image signature is still quite popular, but thanks to the image manipulation tools offered by PHP and DG2, we’re now seeing more relevant information than we used to. They’re still used in bulletin boards… but have also become popular in email signatures. By referencing an external image, dynamic and current information will always be rendered in an email message – regardless of its age.
I had a look at what other people were doing and tried to work out what I could do that would offer more of a service. It seems pretty clear that many of the existing services are a little sub-par. I want to offer a limitless supply of images, fonts, sizes, colors and sources. By sources, I want people to be able to render their latest Tweet, their latest Blog Post, or just a general signature message that they can change at any time.
The service will be available at Twytter.net sometime soon (at the moment the site redirects to a news website).
Using the typical sizes offered by others, I’ve created a ‘proof-of-concept’ image that I’ll use for load testing purposes. Referencing the image couldn’t be easier; simply use http://twitter-image.internoetics.com/YourTwitterHandle.png, where YourTwitterHandle is your own Twitter username (without the ‘@’). The image is slightly smaller than actual size because of the width of the post container on this site.
So, the image of
http://twitter-image.internoetics.com/flightorg.png will render as:
Because I haven’t enabled any custom functionality yet, what you see is what you get. I know the image isn’t crash hot… but because the entire image is dynamically generated, the number of available templates and styles that I’ll be able to provide in the future is infinite.
Caching & Formatting
Because I’ve created the above for testing purposes, I’m caching the results on my end for a few hours. However, this does mean the image will be delivered to you very quickly. IP address limiting/throttling doesn’t apply at this stage (as I’ve done before for the creation of a new set of results).
In terms of formatting, the text in the image will render based on the length of the text string. For example, If your tweet is only a few words long, it’ll center and won’t word wrap. If it’s longer, the start point for the text will change so that the text block will always be neatly positioned in the middle of the image.
Blog Post to Image
In a few days Ill provide a tool that will render your last blog post in a small image (perfect in email signatures).
Make sure you subscribe to the mailing list if you want the code to operate any of these tools on your own server!
If you liked this article, you may also like:
- Skype Status (Text or Image) with WordPress Shortcode
- The favicon and WordPress Link Icon Shortcode (and an Online Image to Icon Converter)
- [Shortcode] Examples 
- Automate WordPress Posts to Twitter (with hastags, truncation and a short URL)
- Add Thumbnail Image (Links) from a YouTube RSS Feed to WordPress with Shortcode