The dearth of native Twitter clients for PowerPC Macs


The latest round of “Kill the third-party client,” which Twitter officially calls updating the API, has practically neutralised all native Twitter clients for the PowerPC platform. Up until a few weeks ago, if you still used a PowerPC Mac (even as a very secondary machine), you could hunt the Web for the last working PPC version of Twitter clients such as Echofon, YoruFukurou, Itsy, and you would have been able to use such clients without any problem. I was a fan of Itsy, in particular, because of its small footprint. Using it on my 12-inch PowerBook G4 was really a pleasure.

However, the last update to the Twitter API (1.1) simply requires too much work for a developer to even consider releasing an update for the PowerPC platform. Even Hahlo, a Web-based client, has stopped working, and in a great farewell post, the developer of Hahlo writes:

When [Twitter] originally announced the plans for the v1.0 API retirement I investigated ‘upgrading’ Hahlo to use v1.1 of the API, but the changeover would have required much more than a simple find ‘1.0’ replace with ‘1.1’. An extensive reworking of the code was something I just simply didn’t have time for…

What now?

As far as I know, the only two third-party clients still working on PowerPC Macs are the text-based command-line TTYtter[1] and the Web-based Dabr. Then, of course, one could use Twitter’s own website, or their recently acquired and overhauled TweetDeck (at least the Web-based version, since the native client requires at least Mac OS X 10.6 to run), but it’s impractical to be using Twitter in a browser tab, and on older G3 and G4 machines, even loading Twitter’s site is a daunting task, and the general performance (of the site, of the browser, and of the Mac itself) suffers noticeably.

I understand it’s naïve and quaint to complain that things don’t work anymore on a platform that has seen little to no development since Apple completed the transition to Intel processors and architecture. At the same time I find quite ridiculous that someone with a machine such as the quad-core 2.5 GHz Power Mac G5, which is still rather powerful, can’t use a third-party native Twitter client just because Twitter has become increasingly capricious in pursuit of their own interests.

What I ended up doing

I still use three PowerPC Macs on a frequent basis: a Power Mac G4 Cube with Mac OS X 10.4.11, a 12-inch 1 GHz PowerBook G4, and a 17-inch 1.33 GHz PowerBook G4, both with Mac OS X 10.5.8. Before Twitter updated their API to 1.1, on the Cube I had concocted a lightweight solution using a combination of Hahlo and Steven Frank’s WebDesktop app (a sort of simplified browser to layer a webpage over the Mac desktop — see its page on Google Project Hosting), and you can see the result on this old article I wrote in 2010 (scroll to the end of the article). On the other, more powerful Macs running Leopard, as I said, I was a very happy Itsy user.

For my PowerBook G4s, I ended up ‘creating’ a TweetDeck app by mixing Fluid with the Web-based TweetDeck application.

Fortunately I still had around an old version of Fluid (0.9.6) that works on PowerPC Macs, so, after signing up for a TweetDeck account (which is handy, since you can manage multiple Twitter accounts if you have them), I fired up Fluid and in the Create a Site Specific Browser window that appears I filled the fields as follows:

Fluid window

Once Fluid created the app based on the TweetDeck website, I logged into my account and everything appeared just fine. Then I needed to find a proper icon for the app. I browsed Google Images a bit, then found this one, which I downloaded. In Fluid (or rather, in the newly created TweetDeck app), I entered the General pane in the Preferences and pressed the Change button near ‘Application icon’:

Fluid general prefs

I selected the previously downloaded icon file, and now on my PowerBooks running Leopard I basically have a working TweetDeck ‘app’ with a decent icon. It’s quite responsive, all things considered, and it’s a good-enough solution. The good thing is that, since TweetDeck is owned by Twitter, it’ll probably survive future API changes and whatnot. The bad thing is that it’s not a third-party solution.

TweetDeck PPC

I have tried to do something similar for my Power Mac Cube with Mac OS X Tiger, using WebDesktop instead of Fluid (which doesn’t work under Tiger), but for some reason the TweetDeck Web interface didn’t load, so at the moment I’m using Dabr in a browser window.



  • 1. However, Cameron Kaiser (developer of TTYtter), after expressing his disapproval of Twitter’s recent practices, told me via “Keep in mind I probably won’t do much more with TTYtter. It’s sort of on life support until I decide to pull the plug finally.”


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