Birth of another Twitter client
March 30, 2009
I have decided to build the one thing I know the world doesn’t need: Another Twitter client!!
There must be hundreds out there already, and dozens of them very good. However, after trying out quite a few of them, I’m not really pleased. A quick roundup of the ones I know of:
- Twitterific is the best so far, but it displays ads every hour (unless you pay), and I can’t really get used to the overlay-style interface. Plus, it often reports communication errors for no reason.
- TwitterPod is actually OK, but very wierd…! It features a completely useless “QC” mode, where tweets flicker by, intertwined with user mugshots and psychedelic colorized patterns (but of course, you don’t have to use that mode). Actually, I can’t really remember why I stopped using TwitterPod. Probably just because it is wierd and Japanese and alien. It didn’t really have a cool feel to it.
- The web-based interface (nah)
- All the AIR-based clients: No, I don’t want AIR on my Mac right now. Maybe some day when I run out of more interesting stuff to play with.
- All the Android/iPhone/Windows Mobile based ones: No, I want it here on my laptop
So there you have it, nothing is good enough right now. But what would be good?
Here are my thoughts so far about the client I want to build:
- Open source. I can’t be bothered to do it all myself.
- Runs on my Mac. If someone wants to port it, great.
- I want an easy way to track “conversations” between me and some other dude (there probably a funky term in Twitterish for this).
- When I add a tweet, I expect it to appear in my timeline, or what it’s called, immediately. It should not wait for the next batch of updates.
- Builtin support for quickly searching for people to follow, using first-, last- or username.
- Easy way to create all sorts of filters. Most simple method would be to show only the tweets of one followee.
- It should be easy to mute and unmute friends. The name of a muted friends appears in red when others address him.
- Every tweet should be colorcoded. Each friend should get a “lease” on a particular color. The lease should expire after some period of inactivity.
- Fancy visualization: A large canvas (optinally full-screen) on which tweets are clustered by relationship. Ie. when they respond to each other, they form a little group of tweets with arrows showing response directionality. Each tweet should fade in color as it ages.
I will probably be writing the client in Ruby using RubyCocoa.
I am not fooling myself here. I know that someone else has probably covered the features mentioned above in a client much cooler than I could ever come up with. There must be hundreds of alternatives listed on this page alone.
However, there does seem to be a lack of decent open-source Twitter clients. At least ones that are not based on AIR.
Oh well, let’s just see when I get around to actually coding this. I have all sorts of half-baked ideas these days, but way too little spare time to realize any of them.
Drop me a comment if how have an idea for a killer feature to include.
Pre-publish update: OK, so I found one more client that almost discouraged me from writing my own: Lounge.
It looks very nice and IMO is easier to use than Twitterific because it uses a regular window instead of an overlayed one (or whatever it’s called). However, Lounge is an early beta so some features are incomplete or simply missing. For example Growl integration is pretty basic and the Vanity category doesn’t seem to work(?).
One feature that could have been great is the ability to display pictures from Twitpic inline. However, only thumbnails are shown, so you need to launch your webbrowser anyway. Pretty useless then…
Also, it’s closed source – in fact the beta expires on July 1, which makes me a bit suspicious…what then, will I have to buy it?
So in conclusion, it looks quite promising, but I still need to write my own client 😉