Thursday, March 17, 2011

TTYtter: a turbo-charged console Twitter client

I finally got around to updating to a real Twitter client again. Twitter now requires that applications use OAuth authentication instead of a standard username/password login, rendering my old command-line Twitter programs obsolete.

But then I found the awesome Perl-based TTYtter. First, unlike a lot of Perl-based applications, you don't have to recursively install lots of other modules to get TTYtter to work. I just installed the single file Perl script, and it worked. The OAuth set-up is clearly described and easy. The benefits of this program are huge! It supports the new-fangled retweets, favoriting, direct-messaging, tracking arbitrary keywords, and searching (I visit a lot less often). It can retrieve the entire thread for any given Twitter post. If your version of Lynx or cURL supports SSL, TTYtter can use SSL encryption on your Twitter traffic.

There is one Perl module that I would recommend you install though... Term::ReadLine::TTYtter fixes the readline behavior AND gives a cool dynamically-updating character count for what you have typed at the prompt

TTYtter supports Growl notifications, so you can set it up to inform you when you get a direct message or just when there is a new update of any kind. It is highly configurable.

Mac users: Make a file called ".ttytterrc" in your home directory containing just this one line:

urlopen=open -g %U

and then when you use the /url command, TTYtter will open the corresponding URL in your default browser. The "-g" switch opens the page in the background, keeping your Terminal window in the foreground.

One downside to the high degree of configurability is that there is a lot to learn to fully exploit the powers of TTYtter. (I run the program with the following set of command-line switches: ttytter -ssl -readline -notifytype=growl -notifies=dm,reply -notifyquiet -timestamp -filter="/spn\.tw/||/\#FF/".) But the documentation is well-written, and what you get is worth the learning curve.