I have confirmed a problem with xAuth/OAUth that I believe resides
within Twitter OAuth implementation that has been a thorn in our side
for a while. I say *believe* because I do not claim to know for sure,
thus this post.

I assume no one at Twitter will be inclined to do me any favours, but
please answer for the sake of the users in general, and other
developers in here that do a better job of not publicly expressing
their opinions of what Twitter has been doing to its ecosystem.

If a user's desktop time is off by a significant margin, say 30m, we
have confirmed that a valid username/password via an xAuth request
will fail. This has been very painful to track down since those
working on Nambu tend to have the desktop time set correctly, and only
a handful users complain legitimately, with credibility. This tweet
started us on to a solution: http://twitter.com/imhassan/status/14639986090.
It is not affecting just Nambu.

I cant find anything in the OAuth specs to suggest this comparison to
the actual time should take place, so I assume Twitter is just going
ahead and comparing the submitted timestamp to the actual time, and
rejecting the request (for perhaps a good reason), or it is a bug. We
are getting a 401 on a valid request with an inaccurate timestamp.

This issue is hinted at here: http://weblog.bluedonkey.org/?p=959.

Anyway, we are putting a workaround in place, so if no one at Twitter
responds, no worries, Nambu will work going forward. Other developers,
be aware that this issue exists. This is very annoying to me because
users with inaccurate time settings have tried to verify their
accounts in Nambu, failed, and then use the official Twitter
application for OSX (aka Tweetie), which works because it is still on
HTTP Basic authentication, and declared Nambu to be broken.

Twitter, please clarify which part of the process is indeed broken,
and what you expect to see regarding timestamps on your end. I assume
that by the time Twitter for OSX is updated to use xAuth you will have
put a solution in place for this, or will at some point soon afterward
as users complain. It would be nice if you outlined that solution for
the rest of us when the time comes, so perhaps we can improve on what
we have come up with.

I apologize in advance if I missed something obvious in the docs
somewhere. I am not an expert on OAuth by any means, and have not
studied this issue per se. I have only been trying to resolve the
issue for us to move on to something more important. Our OAuth
implementation works fine otherwise. Well, as well as the rest of the
Twitter API "works", anyway.

Cheers.

--ejw

Eric Woodward
Email: e...@nambu.com

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