Browser Add-ons, HootBar, HootSuite, Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, Twitter, TwitterBar

TwitterBar is now HootBar

Update: TwitterBar for Firefox was sold to HootSuite and renamed HootBar in March of 2011. TwitterBar for Chrome was discontinued in October of 2012.

My Firefox add-on TwitterBar, the world’s most popular Twitter client for Firefox’s URL bar, has been acquired by HootSuite and has been renamed “HootBar.”

HootBar users now have access to great HootSuite features like the Hootlet: instead of typing “–post” at the end of your tweet, if you type “–hoot”, you can schedule your tweet for later, send your message to networks besides Twitter (like Facebook or LinkedIn), and track stats for link clicks.

The rebranded version of TwitterBar is still awaiting approval by Mozilla, but you can install it manually here. More information on the TwitterBar-to-HootBar change is available at HootSuite’s “TwitterBar to HootBar” transition page.

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Browser Add-ons, Life, Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, Programming, TwitterBar

Making Add-on/User Communication Less Annoying

Update: TwitterBar for Firefox was sold to HootSuite and renamed HootBar in March of 2011. TwitterBar for Chrome was discontinued in October of 2012.

When a new user downloads TwitterBar, there are a number of things I want them to know or questions I want to ask them. So what is the best method to communicate with an add-on user?

The solution I’ve been using for a while is to pop up a dialog like this:

There are several problems with this approach, all of which I decided to ignore when I implemented it:

  • It steals the user’s focus.
  • It’s annoying.
  • The user might click cancel without reading it just to get rid of it.
  • It’s annoying.
  • The user might immediately (but accidentally) click elsewhere, hiding the dialog behind another window, never to be seen again.
  • It’s annoying.
  • It’s extra code and work to pop up a special dialog like this.
  • It’s annoying.

Back when there was only one dialog, I decided that these were acceptable faults. However, since then, I’ve come up with a few more questions I want to ask users, so now instead of one annoying dialog, there are three or four annoying dialogs – a new one appearing each time you restart Firefox.

Predictably (or so it should have been), users don’t like to be assaulted with new dialogs each time they start their browser. Most likely, they’re starting their browser for some purpose other than using my add-on, so my add-on shouldn’t steal their attention. As one user so elegantly put it,

“I really love the TwitterBar, but after the most recent TwitterBar update, I noticed I kept getting these annoying as hell pop-ups from TwitterBar about TwitterBar. After the third one (while I was in the middle of doing something and became distracted with this pop-up dialog box TwitterBar tip of the day), I uninstalled it. If you want to keep your clients, don’t constantly tap them on the shoulder.

I had already been working on redesigning these add-on/user interactions when I got that email, so the user’s message reinforced what I had suspected: I was alienating my userbase.

Here’s the new scheme I’ve settled on for now:

It’s a notification bar, much like the one that appears when Firefox blocks a popup. It has these positive qualities:

  • It doesn’t steal focus or interrupt the user.
  • It’s not in-your-face, so it’s less likely (I assume) to be dismissed without thought.
  • It can’t be lost behind another window.
  • The amount of code to implement it is less, and it’s more in tune with the browser interface.
  • It’s not as annoying.

I’d love your feedback on this change. Is it enough? Should I stop bothering users altogether and just let them discover their way around the add-on? I’m open to all ideas.

(If you’d like to try a version of TwitterBar with this new notification method, you can download it here. Although, if you’ve already seen the old dialog-style version of these notifications, you won’t see the new-style ones anyway.)

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Browser Add-ons, Mozilla Firefox, Twitter, TwitterBar

TwitterBar 2.9 Available: Post to Multiple Twitter Accounts

Update: TwitterBar for Firefox was sold to HootSuite and renamed HootBar in March of 2011. TwitterBar for Chrome was discontinued in October of 2012.

Version 2.9 of TwitterBar for Firefox was made available on Mozilla Add-ons today, and it has a very cool new feature: you can now use TwitterBar with more than one Twitter account.

To post to a specific account, just type your message like this:

I am posting to my other account. –@other_account –post

If you haven’t yet authorized TwitterBar for @other_account, you’ll be walked through the authorization process.

If you’ve authorized more than one account, and you don’t specify which account you want to post to, you’ll be given a list of choices:

You can manage your accounts from the TwitterBar options (just type “–options”).

Finally, to authorize a new account without posting to it, just type “–account” in the URL bar.

To install this new version of TwitterBar, download it from Mozilla Add-ons.

The next obvious step is the ability to post to multiple accounts simultaneously, and the next version of TwitterBar will offer than feature. If you’d like to beta-test that update, e-mail me and let me know.

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Browser Add-ons, Contest, Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, TwitterBar

TwitterBar is a winner!

Update: TwitterBar for Firefox was sold to HootSuite and renamed HootBar in March of 2011. TwitterBar for Chrome was discontinued in October of 2012.

(And so are you, for using it!)

It was announced today that TwitterBar is one of the ten winners of the Mozilla Mobile Add-on Challenge:

“After reviewing a multitude of submissions and much debate around many worthy contenders, the judges from the AMO and Mobile teams have chosen ten (10) of the best (innovative, useful, compatible) Firefox mobile add-ons. We’re very pleased to announce our winners (and thrilled to start using their add-ons soon) and award them each with a brand new Nokia N900.”

I was really pleased with how the mobile version of TwitterBar turned out; I slimmed down the interface (which was already pretty slim), and I found a great Twitter bird icon that I modified to allow TwitterBar to have its own branding separate from Twitter:

I’m planning on eventually using this same icon in the Firefox version of TwitterBar too so that there’s consistent branding across the Mobile, Firefox, and Chrome versions of TwitterBar. What do you think?

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Browser Add-ons, Google Chrome, TwitterBar

TwitterBar for Google Chrome

Update: TwitterBar for Firefox was sold to HootSuite and renamed HootBar in March of 2011. TwitterBar for Chrome was discontinued in October of 2012.

If you’re using Google Chrome, and you’re running the developer version that allows extensions to be installed, you can now install TwitterBar for Google Chrome.

After you’ve installed it, just click on the Twitter icon in the toolbar bar, type your message, and press Enter to post your message to Twitter. (You’ll have to authorize TwitterBar the first time you tweet, but it only takes a second.)

If your message gets too long (Twitter only allows 140 characters), the happy blue Twitter bird will turn into an angry red Twitter cardinal.

Let me know what you think; I tried to keep as much of the functionality from the Firefox version as possible.

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Browser Add-ons, Twitter, TwitterBar

TwitterBar 2.4, Now With 2% Longer Tweets

Update: TwitterBar for Firefox was sold to HootSuite and renamed HootBar in March of 2011. TwitterBar for Chrome was discontinued in October of 2012.

TwitterBar 2.4 was released this morning, and the main change is that it now integrates the URL shortening service tweak.tk. The URLs that .tk generates are the shortest you can get, weighing in at 15 characters; TwitterBar’s previous URL shortener, is.gd, generated 18-character URLs.

What does this mean? Well, now when you post a URL to Twitter with TwitterBar, you have 125 characters for your message instead of 122. So feel free to toss an extra LOL or BRB in there; you’ve got plenty of room.

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Browser Add-ons, Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, OAuth, Twitter, TwitterBar

TwitterBar updated with OAuth, shorter URLs

Update: TwitterBar for Firefox was sold to HootSuite and renamed HootBar in March of 2011. TwitterBar for Chrome was discontinued in October of 2012.

Everyone’s favorite tool for posting to Twitter from your Firefox address bar (TwitterBar) has been updated to version 2.0. Changes in this version include:

  • URL shortening
    • Long URLs are now shortened by http://is.gd/ before being sent to Twitter. is.gd offers the shortest URLs around, so you have more room in your tweet for your words. (TwitterBar’s character counter takes into account the fact that all of your URLs will only be 18 characters long when they’re posted, so you always know exactly how much room you have left to tweet.)
  • Support for OAuth.
    • OAuth is basically a way to allow applications (like TwitterBar) to act on your behalf (update your status) without having to disclose your Twitter password to the application. So it’s safer for you, since you don’t have to worry about malicious programmers stealing your usernames and passwords, since you never gave them out. After you upgrade to this version of TwitterBar, you’ll have to authorize it once, but then you’ll never have to do it again.
  • Bug fixes and code cleanup
    • These are good!

You can download TwitterBar from Mozilla Add-ons (for free!), or you can wait for Firefox to automatically notify you of the update. (By the way, if you want to connect with me on Twitter, I’m @cfinke.)

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AutoAuth, Browser Add-ons, Mozilla, Mozilla Add-ons, Mozilla Fennec, Mozilla Firefox, Slashdotter, TwitterBar, YouTube Comment Snob

Four More Fennec Add-ons

Update: TwitterBar for Firefox was sold to HootSuite and renamed HootBar in March of 2011. TwitterBar for Chrome was discontinued in October of 2012.

Note: AutoAuth is now being developed by Steffan Schlein. If you would like to leave feedback, pleaseĀ create an issue on GitHub.

I got some great feedback after I updated URL Fixer to be compatible with Fennec, Mozilla’s mobile browser, and I’m happy to announce that I’ve been able to add Fennec compatibility to four more add-ons:

So far, I’ve found it pretty easy to port add-ons to Fennec, with the following caveats:

  • You can’t install add-ons in Fennec by opening them from your computer; I wrote a script to copy the add-on directly into the Fennec profile, much like an add-on IV drip – straight into the bloodstream!
  • There’s no easy access to the error console , but you can open it manually if you grab the address from Firefox.
  • No DOM Inspector. For now, just browse the source.

It seems that all of these issues could be solved with a “Fennec Add-on Development” extension; maybe that will be my next project, unless easier solutions already exist.

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