Category Archives: twitter

Nocturn Is a Cross Platform Twitter App With a Clean Design

twitter logoNocturn is a simple desktop Twitter app for Mac and Linux built using React, Electron and JavaScript. I know what you’re thinking: “Not another electron app!?” but this one is at least a bit different to the usual web wrapping schtick. For, unlike Anatine which we wrote about at the end of July, Nocturn is not a frame around […]

This post, Nocturn Is a Cross Platform Twitter App With a Clean Design, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Where’d Gwibber Go in Ubuntu 13.04? And What’s Friends?

Gwibber needs little in-way of introduction. The social networking client has been a default app in Ubuntu since 10.04, but was popular with users long before then too.

But anyone booting into the new-fangled Ubuntu 13.04 desktop later this month will notice that it’s missing; Gwibber does not come pre-installed on Ubuntu any longer.

So what’s going on?

Making Friends with Gwibber

To best understand we have to go back a few months to the launch/announcement of Ubuntu Touch. its unveiling created a storm of interest and opportunity for existing and new Ubuntu developers, not least because it promoted the use of a new, flexible ‘toolkit’ for developing apps – Qt/QML.

Gwibber had been in need of some due love and attention for a while, so its developer, Ken VanDine, took the opportunity to rewrite the app using these newly recommended technologies.

And so this was born:

Friends Apps Full View

Friends-App – The Next Generation Gwibber

But an app is nothing without its data. Alongside the rewritten, recoded and revamped ‘client’, work was also happening on the ‘backend’ to make it leaner, more performant and more reliable than that used by Gwibber in the past.

This new backend, dubbed ‘Friends’, fetches, delivers, and dispatches data to and from the app itself. You can’t see it, but it’s an integral part of the process.

Status Updating in Friends

Supports Many Social Networks – Including Facebook

A Fresh Start

With Friends (the backend) up and running, the Qml Gwibber hooked up to it, and users starting to test it, things began to get a bit confusing for the developers – as Ken explained to me:

“With the rewrite of the gwibber client to QML and the new friends backend, I still saw lots of comments online about gwibber and past experiences.  And as users started filing bugs against the client, it was difficult to distinguish which code base the user was using.”

The solution? A new name.

“Considering it was a completely new code base, even new branding with the awesome new logo, we felt it made sense to start off with a new LP project as well.  And now we have friends-app”

Friends App – So Far

So what’s the ‘new’ client like? It’s okay. It’s clearly not a finished piece of work by any stretch, but the features and functions included all work as they should.

Ken suggests that we view it as being somewhere between a ‘preview’ and a ‘stable’ release, erring against the latter because of a lack of wider testing.

On to how the app runs.

As this is an app made for touch there are features like inline-replying, large action buttons, and ‘drag to refresh’:

Pull To Refresh

Pull To Refresh

Unlike Gwibber past there is now only one column called ‘Timeline’. This displays all statuses, mentions, tweets, etc in on vertical list.

If you think that sounds confusing – and it can be – each status is badged with the network it came from and, for things like mentions, avatars are badged to differentiate them from the rest of the stream:

Replying to a Mention

All Updates, Mentions, Etc Appear in One Column

Ken hopes to re-introduce multi-column views at a later date. ‘Most likely something along the lines of automatically detecting the best layout based on form-factor,‘ he explains.

For portrait/single column users a “tabbed view” will also be introduced, letting you swipe through columns.

“I’ve played with these concepts a bit already, and it is pretty easy to implement in QML and the Ubuntu SDK,’ Ken says, ’I just didn’t want to rush and re-factor all that right as we were landing it in 13.04.”

The client and its new backend don’t support as many services as older versions did but all of the main networks are covered, including Facebook:

inline replying in friends-app

inline replying in friends-app

The compose window lets you choose which network an update is posted to:


Status Updating in Friends

Notable features missing at present, but pegged for inclusion in later versions:

  • Username autocomplete
  • Status management (deleting a tweet, etc)
  • Twitter searching/filtering
  • Locations
  • Rich media views 

Going Forward

While sexy new Friends client isn’t included in Ubuntu (due to some last minute dependency security issues) all is not lost for social-fiends.

Firstly, Friends is available to install straight from the Ubuntu Software Center, so it’s still pretty much at your fingertips.

Click to Install Friends in Ubuntu 13.04

Secondly, Unity has a social lens installed by default in Raring. While you can’t tweet from it you can view statuses, mentions, messages, etc.

Unity Lens Friends

Unity Lens Friends

Where’d Gwibber Go in Ubuntu 13.04? And What’s Friends? OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

Hands on With New Linux Twitter App ‘Birdie’

Twitter App Birdie Explained

Twitter clients for Linux. Once upon there were a swathe of them. Like Mogwai fed after midnight, newer ones seemed to appear with crazy frequency.

But then Twitter got arrogant. It wanted to control the ‘app’ experience had by its users. It made it harder and harder for third-party developers to engage with its API, and started limiting the number of ‘calls’ – i.e. fetching tweets – third-party apps could make to it.

Apps that slid past the limits would simply stop working. For all its users.

The end result of these ‘rule changes’ has seen many Twitter app developers unable to keep pace. The swathe dried up; abandoned clients dried out; and for Linux Twitter fans the options became fewer and scarcer.

Of course, we weren’t left entirely without options. There are some great Linux apps still around – Polly and Gwibber being two of the most popular. But choices never hurt, right?

Basic Birdie

As an avid Tweeter I was pretty pleased to learn of a new desktop twitter app in development – Birdie.

While the app is still more a hungry chick than bird in full plume (i.e.: don’t expect bells and whistles) the app does show a lot of promise.

So far Birdie covers all of the basics one would expect of a twitter client. It can tweet; retweet; favourite; send/receive private messages; view profiles, and follow/unfollow accounts. It even integrates nicely into the Ubuntu desktop, supporting notifications, Unity Launcher badges and quicklists, and the Ubuntu Messaging Menu.


Birdie eschews the ‘multi-column’ layout used by other Linux Twitter apps (Gwibber, Polly, Turpial, gFeedline) in favour of a single-column view that’s more akin to the Twitter mobile website/apps. This has both it’s advantages and disadvantages. The main plus being less noise.

The Birdie Compose Box

Snaring Birdie

If you’re twitching to try the Birdie out then you can. A ‘Stable’ PPA is maintained for Ubuntu 12.04, 12.10 and 13.04. But before you add it remember that jumping on an app during early development does come with a cost: advanced features are lacking, stability is a little wayward, and it may eat your tweets.

For example, Birdie’s “stable PPA” release is missing multiple-account support, searching, and the ability to preview conversations or media in the app. All elements that help define a ‘good’ Twitter app from a ‘great’ one.

But as I said at the outset, it’s early days. So far, Birdie is worth keeping an eye out for.

Birdie in the Ubuntu Messaging Menu

Install Birdie in Ubuntu 12.04, 12.10 or 13.04

Birdie is development software. It will crash, it will have bugs, and it will eat your tweets. You install it at your own risk.

To install Birdie you’ll first need to add the following PPA to your Software Sources. The quickest way to do this in Ubuntu is to open a Terminal and enter the following code:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:birdie-team/stable

Next run the following command to update your sources and install the app:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install birdie

Once done you can launch Birdie from the Unity Dash. During first run you’ll be asked to add an account. Follow the on-screen prompts to get started. Initial sync takes a little while, so do be patient.

Twitter Core App Cancelled for Ubuntu Touch

Tweets displayed on Ubuntu Touch

Tweets displayed on Ubuntu Touch

Canonical today through software engineer Robert Bruce Park confirmed plans to cancel the Twitter app for Ubuntu Touch.

The Twitter App was one of the core apps targeted for colloborative development with the community contributors playing a equal role.

Robert Park had this to say on the Ubuntu Phone mailing list:

“So far, Twitter Core App has been cancelled due to negotiations with Twitter. So, disappointingly, official twitter app will be a browser pointed at”

Mr. Park had in previous conversations on the mailing list highlighted the fact that users who would eventually be buying the first Ubuntu Phones would react poorly to the lack of a official Twitter or Facebook app and that it was pretty critical that Canonical buy the rights to use the Twitter brand on the upcoming platform.

It is unclear how failed negotiations will impact the overall Ubuntu Touch UI considering that displaying the amount of tweets received was a hallmark feature of the new crisp UI.