The 140 Character Twitter Web App Challenge

Wehn I  started using Twitter a couple of weeks ago, I was intrigued with the 140 characters limit imposed by Twitter for each post (aka a tweet ) on Twitter. Of course, there was a lot of creative usage of the limited space for status updates by users of Twitter.  But I wondered if anybody had ever tried to write a complete program in the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter? A quick google search found only a few references to short programs, one of which was a complete wiki in 222 characters of Perl listed as part of  a competition for the shortest wikis :

So I posted this as a question on Twitter :

Can anyone code a complete Web app in 140 Chars? Well close enuf:See this Wiki written in 4 lines/222 chars of Perl! ”

A fellow Twitter User – Marek Foss picked this up and retweeted it as a challenge here :

There was not much of a reaction so we sort of forgot about it for a while. Yesterday however, Marek and I exchanged a couple of messages and decided to revive it. Marek posted it as a challenge at his blog :

He also managed to create a 140 character application in Perl that keeps a log of messages posted by any user – sort of like Twitter.  You can see it live here

and download the source code here.

Pretty neat !

He also emailed Mashable and they picked up on this interesting story and posted this entry on their blog:

There have subsequently been a few submissions from talented programmers all over the world. So keep them coming and the best application will be picked within 2 weeks.

Incidentally, one of the inspirations for my original post was also the fact that many years ago in my graduate Comp Sci classes, I had learnt and mastered the programming language APL (stands for A Programming Language). It is arguably one of the most arcane and cryptic progamming language ever invented –  it uses every last ASCII symbol as a shorthand for some very powerful Arrray operations, and if I remember we even had a special APL keyboard. Here are a few sample APL program (from Wikipedia):


And here is another one :


The first one is a Pick 6 (from 1–40) lottery random number generator, complete with
guaranteeing no repeated numbers, and sorting the results in ascending order. (in just 5 characters !)

And the second one finds all prime numbers from 1 to R (in just 17 characters !)

Anyway, I actually wrote a complete program to play Backgammon (of all games) in APL (of all languages) !
While I can no longer code in APL there is a small but active community of APL users out there. Maybe this contest will bring them out into the open ?

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