Twitter for Minimalists

CSSing our way to a slightly better Twitter.com experience

 

I love Twitter.app (Tweetie for Mac). With the exception of a few posts from my phone, I'd bet 95% of all of my interactions with Twitter over the past few years have been through that application. It's fast. Supports multiple accounts effortlessly. And is, perhaps most importantly, streamlined and clean.

Suffice to say: I grew to love Twitter because of Tweetie, somewhat in spite of twitter.com.

Try as I might, I don't enjoy using twitter.com. There are parts of it I adore, but to speak in generalities, it's too busy. Too complex. Too far away. Twitter for me is useful only when it's close and quick. So when Twitter.app's death-knell was rung recently,1 I began to try and figure out how to love twitter.com.

Fluid

For years, my go-to solution for daily-use web applications has been Fluid. I have Fluid instances of gmail, Google Calendar, Workflowy and a host of other web-only applications. Generally, it works really well. The webapps load quickly via Spotlight like any other application, and you can quickly CMD-TAB into them without hunting through browser tabs.

Of course you can dump twitter.com into a Fluid instance but it feels pretty kludgy. Twitter buddy Max Fenton whipped together a set of simple CSS rules removing a lot of the kludge. We went back and forth a couple times and the end result is pleasing. Twitter.com in a Fluid instance, with this set of user styles applied is actually usable. And I dare say it's almost worthy of replacing Twitter.app, were we forced to abandon it.

Here's the gist of the CSS:

To use it:

  • download Fluid
  • make a twitter.com instance
  • go to window > user styles
  • add a new style, pattern: *twitter.com*
  • paste in the CSS from above

Icon

To give your Fluid instance an 'official' Twitter icon, simply do the following:

  • grab Twitter's logo
  • open it in Preview
  • CMD-A to select all, CMD-C to copy it
  • highlight your Twitter instance in Finder
  • CMD-I to see the application's info panel
  • click the top-left icon in the info panel, CMD-V to paste the logo

Issues

Unfortunately, the biggest failure of this solution is that multiple accounts are still woefully difficult to handle; the sign-out/sign-in dance is the only solution. But as Twitter moves to further consolidate their experience to optimize around revenue maximization, twitter.com will be the only guaranteed way to get access to the service's latest features.

The biggest benefit of minimal twitter.com in a Fluid instance over Twitter.app is that you get the updated and far-superior @connect tab showing all interactions, not just mentions. Twitter's @connect work has been just fantastic. I hope they continue to polish and optimize the data flowing into that space.

Fork

This is hardly a perfect solution, but for those of us Twitter.app lovers wondering what we'll have to use next,2 this simple hack might be a bridge worth testing.

And, if you don't like the styling, fork it and make your own!

Noted:
  1. Twitter Reportedly Discontinuing Development of Its Mac Client
  2. Tweetbot's new client might work for some people — but I suspect its days are numbered at best. Jumping one sinking ship to another slightly less sinking ship isn't a very attractive option.

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