I have been working on a new version of RETweet which will be released soon. In that version we are allowing users to create constituents from Twitter users. The amount of information that you get from Twitter about the Tweet and the person that tweeted is very limited. The real name of the Twitter user – and it is not always a real name – is given in one field so it could include the first and last name (this is the most common where it is not a Tweeting business). To make this more useful the application reaches out to a webservice to determine the gender of the person.
The webservice takes the first name and returns gender information and which countries the name appears in. The web service is biased towards European and Western first names but does claim to cover some countries in Asia too.
This could also easily be integrated as a VBA solution so that when you save and close a constituent record, if the gender is unknown the VBA code reaches out to the webservice and populates the code. Here is some sample code that shows you how this is done. This is done using .NET as it is considerably easier to achieve than in the native VBA environment. It would, however, be easy to make a call to a COM visible assembly from the native VBA client to call this method.
' Determines the gender of the person by looking up useing Thomas Bayer's webservice.
Private Sub SetGender(firstName As String, constit as CRecord)
Dim xdoc As XDocument
'Here we retrieve the XML document from the REST web service
xdoc = sendXML("http://www.thomas-bayer.com/restnames/name.groovy?name=" & firstName)
Dim result = xdoc.<restnames>
'if there is an error then the gender cannot be found
If result.Descendants("error").Count > 0 Then
'This is not an ideal check as a name can be both male and female
'but for simplicity we assume this is not the case
If resultresult.<nameinfo>.<male>.FirstOrDefault.Value.ToLower = "true" Then
constit.Fields(ERECORDSFields.RECORDS_fld_GENDER) = "male"
constit.Fields(ERECORDSFields.RECORDS_fld_GENDER) = "female"
'If there is an error due to the web service we catch it here and don't bother the end user.
Private Function sendXML(ByVal uri As String) As XDocument
Dim request As HttpWebRequest
Dim response As HttpWebResponse
Dim reader As XmlReader
request = HttpWebRequest.Create(uri)
response = request.GetResponse()
reader = XmlReader.Create(response.GetResponseStream())
Look out for our new version of RETweet. It will include this and a lot of other new features!