We get a lot of support questions via Twitter which, believe it or not, we love. It forces people to ask questions succinctly, and it forces us to answer succinctly. We think it’s a pretty great way to answer questions.
But the part we don’t love is trying to use the Twitter website, or a third-party web service like “ExactTarget SocialEngage”, ugh that name, to answer these questions. There’s just something inherently slow and inefficient about using the web for rapid-fire, high-volume tasks like answering support questions.
So, we built Burnside, a Tweet-to-Email Gateway.
Tweets go into a regular mailbox. When we reply, they go back out as tweets. Since multiple people can work out of the same IMAP box, it’s fast and efficient. And as an added bonus, as we archive tweets one by one, we’re building our own searchable index of tweets in Mail. Try searching for anything older than a week on the Twitter website!
(And what about the 140 character limit? We also wrote a plugin for Apple Mail that displays a character count in the Mac OS X Mail window.)
Burnside is notable for another reason: it’s a unique Panic foray into open source. Usually we keep these things to ourselves, but why?
We’ve just put Burnside up on GitHub for anyone to tweak and install.
FAIR WARNING: Burnside is for system administrators only. This is not a consumer app, and it requires significant configuration and understanding of your mail server.
Burnside works great for us, and we hope it can prove useful for others out there.