Snitter Alpha

Snitter is "Snook's Twitter": an Adobe AIR-powered application for twittering. If you haven't heard of Twitter, they are the bastards who beat me in the Blog category of last years SXSW Web Awards fine folks who build an interesting little app best described as 'micro-blogging'. Twitter allows you to send messages of up to 140 characters. You can follow what other people are doing and they can follow what you are doing.

It's a neat little app and it's been handy and fun to follow what other people are up to. However, I've never been overly impressed by the web site. It seemed inefficient and problematic. To fill the void, there have been plenty of desktop applications built to make it easier to twitter, most notably Twitterific. It being a Mac program, and I being a Windows user, have rarely been able to take advantage of it.

There are plenty of people who've built Adobe AIR-powered applications for twittering but they still never had the features I wanted. So, I built my own. This gave me an opportunity to get what I was looking for while getting a chance to check out Adobe AIR.

While the application is still only in "alpha" release (ie: it'll likely throw random error messages and some things may be an annoyance), I felt that it's close enough to get more people trying it out.

Head on over to the official Snitter page and grab yourself a copy. You'll need the latest version of the AIR runtime if you haven't installed it already. Feel free to email me any comments and suggestions or add them as a comment to this post.

Published September 04, 2007
Categorized as Adobe AIR
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35 Comments · RSS feed
pablasso said on September 04, 2007

"Snook's Twitter = Snitter" LOL

I hope AIR for Linux comes soon

Jeff Croft said on September 04, 2007

Nice to see some Web Standards-oriented developers paying attention to AIR!

ses5909 said on September 04, 2007

Niiicee! Downloading now.

Randy said on September 04, 2007

No screenshot?! :)

Jonathan Snook said on September 04, 2007

@Randy: okay, screenshot added on Snitter page!

Chris Harrison said on September 04, 2007

Nicely done. Like you, I haven't been too thrilled with the existing Twitter AIR apps... I'm digging' Snitter. Nicely done. If I encounter any problems with it, I will definitely let you know.

Nils said on September 04, 2007

Finally, I can thank you. Great app. Been following it all the way back when it was still in 0.1 ;-) Seriously, though, I love it.

Lewis said on September 04, 2007

Any chance we'll get a write up of your views on AIR? I've been dying to play with it, but not sure whether it'll catch on. It seems you only get all the fancy effects if you use their development software.

Vertexity said on September 04, 2007

Nice! This definitely has me wanting to actually use my Twitter account more. Cool app Snook.

Riddle said on September 04, 2007

Wow, this is a very nice app for the 1st time AIR development, respect! Now, the criticism. :D

* The scrollbars are ugly as hell. I've seen many other AIR apps and they use Adobe's defaults from Flash.
* The same thing with text field - I can't use advanced navigation and select text using keyboard (Ctrl, Shift for example). Selection is weird - blue background? My system defaults aren't blue.
* Many of controls are too small to be easily clicked
* After load, twitts do the animation twice. It makes the list flicker oddly.

I'd check whether the lack of native window frame around app doesn't spoil the behavior of UI controls.

Travis Cline said on September 04, 2007

I'm still more than doubting AIR. I think Adobe's commitment/respect of gnu/linux users and open source is more than an open question.

David said on September 04, 2007

Super-cool app Snook. Never a letdown.

Scott Johnson said on September 04, 2007

Very slick! Not sure I want to have yet another runtime environment loaded up on the ol' PC, though.

Steve Fleischer said on September 04, 2007

This is a great app! Would love to be able to customize the colour scheme (hint, hint) - a dark Vista-like would be ideal. Keep up the excellent work.

Matt Grayson said on September 05, 2007

@Jonathan: nice app!

@Riddle: according to Mike Chambers, the current UI controls are temporary for the alpha release. So, while I haven't seen anything for sure, there's hope that we'll get native (or at least nicer looking) scrollbars, etc. when AIR 1.0 is released.

Matt Grayson said on September 05, 2007

@Jonathan: was browsing the source and noticed that you used the AIR URLLoader class as opposed to jQuery's ajax methods - any particular reason?

Chris Harrison said on September 05, 2007

A couple of issues I've noticed:
1. If you close the app and then reopen it, it doesn't remember username and password.
2. You can't use a scroll-wheel to scroll through tweets.
3. I assume a settings pane is planned? Would be nice to be able to set a refresh rate...

Otherwise, so far so good :)

Jonathan Snook said on September 05, 2007

@Lewis: indeed, I'll have a write up about AIR shortly.

Re: ugly controls and lack of scroll-wheel are unfortunately due to Adobe AIR and I have no control over it. I seriously hope this gets fixed in the next version.

@Steve Fleischer: yup, custom colour schemes are in the works. I've built the app to make skinning really easy but haven't decided if I want prebuilt choices (easy) or allow users to import their own (harder).

@Matt Grayson: the very first thing I tried was jQuery but was getting errors. At the time I thought it was do to incompatibility or some cross-domain security issue but in retrospect, the error was probably something else entirely. I had already switched the code over by that point and never bothered to switch back. I may do it anyways to see if it solves an error I've been running into.

@Chris Harrison: indeed, a settings pane is most definitely planned. It'll have the ability to turn sound on and off, change refresh time, and change colour schemes. The scroll-wheel as mentioned is an AIR issue and I'm anticipating the new version of AIR will solve that. The username/password stuff will likely go in at the same time the settings pane goes in.

Thanks all for the positive comments!

Dean said on September 05, 2007

Nice stuff Jonathon, look forward to playing around with Snitter when I get a chance.

I noticed from the screenshot that you're returning the "from twitteriffic" and "from web" etc with peoples tweets. Do you mind if I ask how you're retrieving that, is it from the API, or some other magic that you're performing ;)

Scott Nelle said on September 05, 2007

Looks good, Jonathan. My sister's dog is named Snitter, after a character in the plague dogs.

Jonathan Snook said on September 05, 2007

@Dean: it's in the API. No magic here. :) Now to get Snitter added to that list.

Andy Kant said on September 05, 2007

If you're going to go Windows, go C#/.NET imo ;-)

Kevin Hoyt said on September 05, 2007

@ Jonathan: Awesome to see more HTML-based AIR applications. Nice work! If you want access to the weekly private AIR builds, please let me know. We have some great new features rolled into the next public beta if you're inclined to wait.

@Riddle: Yes, the UI control skins are only temporary. An update to the appearance is (currently) scheduled for the next beta. The same goes for text controls/appearance, which were bare bones placeholders in AIR Beta 1.

@ Chris Harrison: Scroll wheel support is also planned for the next public AIR beta drop.

@ Travis Cline: It'd be great to hear more constructive feedback from the Linux community. Please feel free to contact me directly. That being said, our latest build for Flash Player, which now includes hardware acceleration for H.264 video playback, and is now only a week old, was released for Windows, Mac and Linux at the same time. We've committed to AIR on Linux as well, though for the 1.0, this will be staggered. We'll have other great Linux news coming from our MAX conference in early October as well.

Kevin Hoyt
Platform Evangelist
Adobe Systems, Inc.

Josh said on September 05, 2007

Amazing, I'm downloading it now. I've been looking for a replacement for the other PC twitter apps because, like you, I've found them to lack certain things.

Chris Harrison said on September 06, 2007

Adobe FTW! Nice to see more and more Adobe employees engaging in discussions like these. I can't wait for the next AIR beta!

Dean said on September 06, 2007

@Jonathon thanks, probably should have just checked myself, looks as though its been added to the api since the last time I inspected the feeds

Chris Harrison said on September 11, 2007

Thought you'd like to know: posts from Snitter are showing up as coming from Snitter on Twitter now... Keep up the great work Jonathan!

Leandro Ardissone said on September 11, 2007

Great, Jonathan!
Works fantastic, I'm waiting for new features :)

Shaal said on September 11, 2007

Snook's twitter lol:P Twitter's site yes has some problems, not with the func's though but the site itself, and it hells my Firefox like does. Waiting for the success of your personal Twitter:)

Paul said on September 13, 2007

You called Twitter bastards. That's so unsportsmanlike. And awesome!

Jenny said on September 13, 2007

Wow. Beautiful comments formatting. You are my design god now. :)
Just dropping by from TBE to check out your comments that I read about in a post.

William said on September 17, 2007

Well the reason Twitter is problematic is because they built it on Rails.

reza said on September 18, 2007


John said on September 19, 2007

Nice Work. A great little application.

Starfeeder said on September 19, 2007

Cool :) just installed it and tweetin

I'm a flash developer hoping to make a smooth transition into AIR deving

Sorry, comments are closed for this post. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to send them to me directly.