Twitter Tools and Widgets


We all know about twitter, the online social networking/IRC thing. (got its own wiki now too). Well it’s been around for a while now (it’s been operational since March 2006). So with something as mature as this you would expect an extension of the API onto the desktop and generally outside the browser.

And so there are a range of desktop tools that allow you to access Twitter outside of the browser. What are they like? Some good some not so good. Is there a perfect one? Sadly there isn’t. They all lack in some point or another. Here’s a short overview:


  • Twadget


    Windows Vista – Sidebar gadget by Rod Begbie

    Now this sidebar isn’t too bad, shows the letter count left, the person, and the tweet (twitter terminology explained by Ben Buchanan). But the amount of room for the tweet text and number of them it can display at once does mean that it suffers from the same problem as Twitgit, bad use of desktop space.


  • Chitter

    MAC OS X plugin for iChat by ROFL Software

    Basically Chitter is accessing the Jabber configuration seamlessly, no real improvements over any other IM application. Not bad but it has been surpassed by other applications. However to be fair it is within iChat, so it has that as a limited environment.

  • TwitterAdium

    MAC OSX plugin for Adium by Jesse Newland

    Basically an addon a Adium, nothing really special as you can access twitter from Gtalk (Jabber) anyway. So this is no real enhancement.

  • Twitterrific


    MAC OSX by Iconfactory

    This is a very professionally produced standalone application. Nice features, you can reduce the size of the window down to the current tweet (message). Switch from friends to public messages. It displays the tweeters avatar. But it fails in the basic concept that the twitter web site has. On the web site you can see the last 40 tweets, and hence you don’t have to pay attention to the screen not to miss something, you just glace at in every few hours to get an update. With Twitterrific all you see of the stream of twitters is the time and the person’s name not the tweet text as your would expect.

  • Twitgit


    MAC OSX Dashboard Widget by Ben Ward

    This application is limited, it’s not that functionally flash, you can only see a few tweets at a time, which can be frustrating, but you can scroll down to see them all if you wish. But Ben does get it. Twitgit displays the time, the person and the tweets all at once on the screen next to the other tweets. However it’s very limited in its use of desktop real estate, a little better consideration of the design and it could be a killer little dashboard widget.

  • Twidget


    MAC OSX Dashboard Widget by Aquabox

    Very limited functionality, just allows you to update twitter. It has no download of the stream from twitter at all. For me the whole point of twitter is the stream and seeing what others are doing.

  • TwitterPost


    MAC OSX by RAILhead Design

    Not as well designed an interface as Twitterrific. However it does have a better layout for the functionality it has. But again it displays from the stream only the persons name and when the twitter occurred in the list format, not the twitter itself. So you have to be watching all the time or you will miss some tweets. Nice feature in that it gives you a letter count.

Overall no one tool seems to get it, so that puts me back on the Twitter web interface,; luckily they seem to be having daily interface updates on the web site.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,


  1. Thanks for the feedback, Gary.

    We’re thinking about adding another view mode to Twitterrific — something that shows the entire tweet in a scrollable list. Not an easy thing to implement, but would be helpful for viewing “conversations”.

    In the meantime, use the arrow keys to quickly scan through the list of tweets. That combined with the tab key lets you quickly navigate and post.


  2. HI Gary, thanks for the kind words about Twitgit.

    “However it’s very limited in desktop real estate”

    Could I just clarify what you mean here? I want to do at least one more set of feature enhancements before I call Twitgit ‘1.0’ and screen usage is one such thing I’d like to make more flexible.

    Is your problem that the widget is too large, or too small? Is it that you can’t resize it, or is it that perhaps the spacing around the ‘twitter’ button at the base is disproportionately large?

    In what I hope will be a solution to all those, I hope to make the widget resizable, and offer a mini-mode toggle as well, with a smaller posting box/button for those who like their widgets lean.

    — I also want to sort out the maddening issues with the widget locking up (fixable by hitting Cmd+R to refresh the Widget) and the horrendous memory leak (resolved only by closing and recreating the widget).

  3. @Ben – the space for widgets is usually restrictive as it is. The spacing issue with Twitgit is the extra white space that is at the bottom of the widget faceplate, where the button is. What you need to do is have a look at the compact nature of twitterrific and do something similar in concept.

    One solution – if the button was on the side next to the input field then you could have more tweets on the page. Being able to resize the widget faceplate would be good.

    It’s also a little hard scroll down the tweets sometimes, I suspect this is when it locks up. Yes I noticed memory issue. Thanks for the fix.

    @Craig – yes you got it, the thing I have found that makes Twitter popular is that it doesn’t need your constant attention like a IRC room, you can leave it and come back later and catch up in a minute or so. The ability to scan all the conversions rapidly on one screen is the key.

  4. Is this the same Gary Barber that worked as a Realtor in Dallas in 2000-2002??

  5. @Naima – Sorry you have the wrong person, I have heard of this other Gary Barber in Dallas (Texas, I assume). But all I have is string of queries on him, nothing more.

Comments are now closed, move along, nothing to see here.