Wednesday, October 1, 2008

OraTweet - Tweeting on the Enterprise

Update: You can now download the OraTweet package at !

How It All Began:
Although I didn't come up with the whole micro-blogging concept, I did realize the potential it had in the enterprise when I first stumbled upon Twitter. Instead of just writing on this blog, a forum, or in Twitter something like, "Man, someone should write an enterprise twitter," I went to work using Oracle APEX which is an amazing rapid web application development tool that allowed me to focus on the real issue: create a micro-blogging messaging system. Since APEX sits right on top of our great flagship (Oracle RDBMS + mod_plsql = FTW!) it allowed me to use my pl/sql ninja skills.

It took me literally one weekend to have the bare bone architecture up and running.
As I posted here before I used a loaded JAVA/PLSQL XMPP library based on smack api to support IM messaging right from the Oracle JVM and created OraTweetBot as an IM listener. Hooking OraTweet to our internal IM system works flawlessly since we are using open source XMPP protocols. User adoption is also a plus since users can use their existing IM clients to interact with OraTweet. OraTweet also has the option of sending and getting updates from Twitter with PL/SQL, thus giving the user the option to post to the world or just internally.

From the beginning I got great feedback from our own Web 2.0 AppsLab adoption team and got some great pointers on corporate adoption. Since this is a side project I let OraTweet sit for a few weeks without much advertisement while I was doing improvements (and my actual work!). But Meg Bear and the Fusion Talent Management Products team stumbled over OraTweet while looking for a solution to bridge the communication gap within their global team. They contacted me, and we worked together on some improvements and launched a pilot.
At this point Carl Backstrom from the APEX team offered to help me. Now thanks to him we have a working API, and we have plans to deploy OraTweet globally once it is ready. Having this API lets OraTweet work as a global messaging system allowing third parties and platforms such as OpenSocial interact with OraTweet users.

After one week of alpha/beta life and not much internal advertisement OraTweeters numbers went from a dozen to the hundreds and is still growing, which shows that there is a hidden demand for internal communication tools like this. I like the fact that OraTweet flattens enterprise hierarchies and opens communication between all levels.

Now the best part is that I'm planning to release OraTweet for free as an APEX package once all the beta wrinkles are out. It works great next to the other free packages such as ARIA, which is our internal employee directory.

What I envision as I release OraTweet is seeing companies, universities, and organizations running their own OraTweet instance, allowing them to keep their information private yet strengthening their own internal communities. It should be the same way we do email and instant messaging: We manage our own information, which allows us to broadcast messages safely in our own microcosm.

PS Screenshots coming soon!

Update 1 - Screenshot 1

Update 2 - Latest Screenshot

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