Bye for now, Twitterrific


My studio setup - April 2010

Morrick’s headquarters

In the photo above, you can see my studio setup as of April 2010 (click to enlarge). It hasn’t changed much since then (now I have replaced that Mighty Mouse with a Magic Mouse, and passed the Mighty to the Cube), but the reason I’m posting this photo is to talk about an aspect of my software — rather than hardware — setup.

As you can see, the PowerMac G4 Cube attached to the acrylic 22-inch Cinema Display is my ‘wingman’ and I mostly use it for displaying content I want to keep track of, but at the same time don’t want in my way on my main Mac and workspace. On the Cube, then, the main applications that stay always open are Safari, Mail, NetNewsWire and Twitterrific, with the latter two practically in the foreground all the time.

I use Twitterrific on the Cube for reading tweets and Tweetie for Mac on the MacBook Pro for writing them. You may find this strange, but I think that Twitterrific is really a great client for reading, while the user interface for writing tweets feels more uncomfortable to me: the window down there is too cramped, the font too small.

Or rather I should say I used to take advantage of Twitterrific for reading tweets on my Cube. Yesterday, in fact, I noticed a strange behaviour when I logged into Twitter from Twitterrific: authorisation errors, and a mystifying warning about Twitter being “rate limiting” causing Twitterrific to manage a limited number of refreshes per hour, and so on. I expressed my puzzlement on Twitter, and a quick check on their website gave me the answer: two new minor upgrades, 3.2.3 and 3.2.4, were issued while I was away (I was still on 3.2.2):

Twitterrific for Mac v 3.2.4
August 2010

Bug Fixes

  • Removed rate limiting check for OAuth
  • Fixed OAuth problems with favoriting and deleting tweets

Twitterrific for Mac v 3.2.3
August 2010

Bug Fixes

  • Updated to use OAuth

So I proceeded to download and install version 3.2.4. But upon launch nothing happened. I checked and re-checked, then, following a hunch, I asked on Twitter: Has Twitterrific 3.2.4 ceased support for Mac OS X 10.4? Because I downloaded it, launched it and nothing happens.

And my hunch was right, because a few moments after, the guys at the Iconfactory replied: Twitter’s Oauth libraries require 10.5 or later to function unfortunately. You’ll need to update the OS or use the web. :-(

OAuth is a new authentication protocol Twitter officially launched yesterday. It is better and more secure (read more about it in this post on the official Twitter blog), but that also means that now there aren’t any more third-party Twitter clients for Mac OS X 10.4 users. Well, as a matter of fact there is still one, TTYtter, written by the excellent Cameron Kaiser (yes, the same developer behind Classilla). But although I greatly appreciate Kaiser’s efforts, I would like a GUI-based Twitter client for Mac OS X 10.4, and TTYtter is text-based.

Looking for solutions, on Twitter I received a few tips, like trying to see if there are some Firefox Twitter addons I could use to replace the Twitterrific experience on my Cube. But I don’t want to install Firefox on the Cube, because it still feels sluggish to me and I really prefer going on with a minimal software installation to keep the Cube snappy and responsive (the only browsers installed are Safari 4.1.1 and Plainview). I could try to install Mac OS X 10.5 on the Cube — there are workarounds to bypass Leopard’s G4 at 867 MHz CPU requirement — but again I don’t want to slow down the whole system just to take advantage of a single application.

So my temporary solution has been to use Steven Frank’s WebDesktop and the Web-based Twitter client Hahlo 4. WebDesktop is a nice, lightweight application, although apparently Steven doesn’t develop it anymore (the latest version is from 2006 and can still be downloaded from this page at VersionTracker). Its apt description: [WebDesktop] is a fully functional web browser that overlays your Mac OS X desktop. It can be configured to periodically refresh, which may be useful for displaying things like stock tickers, web cams, or other frequently updated news pages. Well, I used it in combination with Hahlo and it works fine enough:


Like Twitterrific, it’s good for reading tweets, and replies to me appear in a different colour (not all mentions, though). I really wish I could customise the layout colours to give it a dark theme like Twitterrific, which is great for my eyes. Hahlo has the advantage of showing more information than Twitterrific, such as retweets, clickable “In reply to” buttons, etc. All in all, I think it’s a decent replacement, but the truth is that for my setup Twitterrific was just perfect, and I’ll really miss it. Also, it’s sad that Mac OS X 10.4 has been left without GUI-based Twitter clients.

The Author

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  1. Nice trick!
    Try also the G4 optimized builds of Namoroka (Firefox) plus Echofon or another Twitter extension, just to see how much slow is Firefox on a “base” G4 system.

  2. Switched to TweetDeck, it’s Adobe Air-based and seems to work on Tiger with no problems. I will check your solution too ;)

    Twidget (a twitter widget for dashboard) has been updated to 2.5.1 and it is currently working. No one of the other widgets I have found so long it working anymore. Not to mention what I am reading about OAuth in opensource forums… :(

    • Michele: I didn’t even consider those clients that rely on Adobe AIR technology, simply because I don’t want to install an additional software layer to be able to use an application. But hey, if it works for you, it’s all good. Have you also read my post about Buzzbird, yes?


  3. Really bummed about losing Twitterific for 10.4 too. Glad you found this info, confirming that fact, I’ve been looking everywhere to see if there was a version that would still work with it. Had the same thing as you, clicking the new 324 version and nothing happening. Frustrating as I agree with you that it was the best thing for reading tweets. Do you have to use the webdesktop app to make Hahlo work?

    • Sarah: No, WebDesktop is not mandatory. Hahlo is a web-based client, it’s like using Twitter from the Web, but with a much more functional interface (in fact it looks quite nice on the iPhone/iPod touch as well). I simply chose WebDesktop because it’s a very light Web browser and has a quite handy refresh feature, but you could open a new window in your preferred browser and use Hahlo from there.

      Also, thanks to a friend, I discovered that there’s still a graphical Twitter client that works under Mac OS X 10.4: Buzzbird. Read my post about it to know more, if you want.


  4. I tried the Tweetdeck + AIR bundle: it works but it’s not very responsive on my G4 1,25 GHz mac mini so I can figure that on a 450MHz Cube can only be worst.
    The right solution would be a G4 upgrade card + OS X 10.5 but I understand that it’s not very affordable :-/

    • Brando: Actually, as I wrote in this post, there’s another GUI-based Twitter client working under Mac OS X 10.4 — Buzzbird. Though I must say that after a week of using the WebDesktop+Hahlo solution, it’s working quite nicely and isn’t impacting the CPU at all.

  5. I tried Buzzbird but I find it a little buggy and slow (maybe because is XUL based and still in beta). Hahlo is a lighter and aesthetically better solution: I’ll try it with Webdesktop too (Fluid is, again, 10.5 minimun :-/)

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