Some views on the Corebird Twitter client

February 20, 2017

I mentioned recently that my Fedora 25 version of choqok doesn't support some of the latest Twitter features, like quoted tweets (and this causes me to wind up with a bit of a Rube Goldberg environment to deal with it). In a comment, Georg Sauthoff suggested taking a look at Corebird, which is a (or the) native Gtk+ Twitter client. I've now done so and I have some views as a result, both good and bad.

The good first. Corebird is the best Linux client I've run into for quickly checking in on Twitter and skimming my feed; it comes quite close to the Tweetbot experience, which is my gold standard here. A lot of this is that Corebird understands and supports modern Twitter and does a lot directly in itself; you can see quoted tweets, you can see all of the images attached to a tweet and view them full sized with a click, and Corebird will even play at least some animations and videos. All of this is good for quickly skimming over things because you don't have to go outside the client.

Corebird doesn't quite have all of the aspects of the experience nailed in the way that Tweetbot does, especially in the handling of chains of tweets. Tweetbot shows you the current tweet in the middle, past tweets (tweets it was a reply to) above it, and future tweets (tweets that replied to it) below, and you can jump around to other tweets. Corebird shows only past tweets and shows them below, in reverse chronological order, which kind of irritates me; it should be above with the oldest tweet at the top. And you can't jump around.

However, for me Corebird is not what I want to use to actively follow Twitter on an ongoing basis, and I say this for two reasons. The first is that I tried to do it and it seems to have given me a headache (I'm not sure why, but I suspect something about font rendering and UI design). The second is that it's missing a number of features that I want for this, partly because I've found that the user interface for this matters a lot to me. Things that Corebird is missing for me include:

  • no unread versus read marker.
  • you can't have multiple accounts in a single tabbed window; you need either separate windows, one for each account, or to switch back and forth.
  • it doesn't minimize to (my) system tray the way Choqok does; instead you have to keep it running, which means keeping multiple windows iconified and eating up screen space with their icons.
  • it doesn't unobtrusively show a new message count, so I basically have to check periodically to see if there's more stuff to look at.

(With multiple accounts you don't want to quit out of Corebird on a regular basis, because when it starts up only one of those accounts will be open (in one window), and you'll get to open up windows for all of the other ones.)

Corebird will put up notifications if you want it to, but they're big obtrusive things. I don't want big obtrusive notifications about new unread Twitter messages; I just want to know if there are any and if so, roughly how many. Choqok's little count in its tray icon is ideal for this; I can glance over to get an idea if I want to check in yet or not. I also wish Corebird would scroll the timeline with keys, not just the mouse scrollwheel.

I'm probably going to keep Corebird around because it's good for checking in quickly and skimming things, and there's plenty of time when it's good for me to not actively follow Twitter (to put it one way, following Twitter is a great time sink). I'm definitely glad that I checked it out and that Georg Sauthoff mentioned it to me. But I'm going to keep using Choqok as my primary client because for my particular tastes, it works better.

PS: It turns out that Choqok 1.6 will support at least some of these new Twitter features, and it's on the way some time for Fedora. Probably not before Fedora 26, though, because of dependency issues (unless I want to build a number of packages myself, which I may decide to).

Written on 20 February 2017.
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