Developing MetroTwit: how you know when you’re on to something…

MetroTwit

For over a month now, I have been working with two Aussie developers (David Golden and Winston Pang) on my first WPF software project, MetroTwit. Although we’ve kept much of our work to ourselves, an interesting event occurred yesterday that amused us and made us extremely eager to show off what we’ve been able to achieve with just a couple hours a night.

Recently, I have been inviting a small number of people to try out an early version of MetroTwit which is undeniably buggy but showed off enough to give people an idea of where we’re going to gather reactions and feedback.

To make sure this was manageable (since we wanted to focus on features and not bug fixes), we added a primitive authorization check to prevent it from accidentally spreading. Although we know some people have been keeping a close eye on MetroTwit, we underestimated just how desperate they were.

Yesterday while we were looking over the Twitter feed for “MetroTwit”, we noticed a link to a blog who claimed “exclusive” images of MetroTwit. And lo and behold, he actually figured out our private download site URL (it wasn’t very hard to guess) and put in the effort to bypass our authorization check so he could play with it. By the looks of his enthusiasm, I like to think he’s impressed. :)

We’ve made a lot of progress since those builds and are very close to a wider technical bug-bash beta before our public release. If you’re interested in checking it out (without having to crack it), sign up below and we’ll ping you as soon as it’s ready. I look forward to hearing what you all think.

Update: Registration to technical beta now closed.

62 insightful thoughts

  1. I used Tweetdeck for a bit but I find Twitterfox so much more convenient, even though I had Tweetdeck pinned. Probably because of lack of things like an indicator. I’m looking forward to this 😀

  2. Have heard that J Allard is searching for a new job 😉

    On a more serious note: have you “hand-made” all the UI elements or are you using an API? It does look very usable!

  3. This looks great! However, the only concern for me is the XP style square X. I find the rectangular close window button so much easier to use on 7/Vista Systems, is there any way you can make the X box on metro twit a big larger than the restore and minimize buttons in order to reflect the UI changes in Vista/7?

  4. Long: One problem all WPF twitter apps share (all WPF apps really): The list scroll, it’s not smooth and you lose visual track when scrolling bit height items (like twits). This is because the ListItem control does no allow partial scroll of an item.

    Did you look into this problem?

    1. No.. its not that easy. You get smooth scrolling at the cost of increased memory usage as data virtualisation is disabled. You’ll see 5-10x increase in memory (so from ~100mb to 500mb-1gb) in a social media client style app because every update is sitting in ram, rather than just the ones on screen.

    2. You need to implement your own scrolling logic to allow the partial scrolling of items. It is frustratingly annoying implementing UI Virtualization along with IScrollInfo

      Good luck though.

  5. Should I use WPF (Expression Blend) or Flash to code for a new Facebook client I’m hoping to develop called “Pheonix”?

  6. My only question is why not port it to a full trust Silverlight OOB app? You get “free” OSX support that way and a smaller runtime (5.7mb vs 24mb).

    1. It largely depends, it’s lacking a few things, but with Silverlight4 it’s gotten a lot closer to parity with WPF on the more widely used features. It still has egregious omissions like having to use the Silverlight toolkit for something as simple as a WrapPanel, but WPF and Silverlight really learn from eachother.

      For example SL got Commands from WPF and WPF got the VSM from Silverlight. It’s a trade off, but only in very specific scenarios. And debugging Silverlight is a PITA compared to WPF.

  7. I’m on the beta-bash list, and I don’t even use twitter!

    Any way to just get in there without a twitter account? I don’t really want one but I have a few twitter feeds that interest me and this app would be cool to follow them with.

  8. Did you actually do any programming yourself? Or is it another one of those things when you try and take the credit for the brains of others by just doing a bit of graphic design…?

  9. Ironically I’ve been trying to make a MetroUI Twitter client ever since I saw it with Zune Software…just that school got in the way (even though now I’m a graduate). One thing that I thing you should add is … somewhere put what the trending topics are. I’m not in the beta (unfortunately, I really do want to try it out) so I don’t know if you have it there. Here’s the idea I had (just a mock of what I was thinking): http://s53.photobucket.com/albums/g48/Sub-Zedox/?action=view&current=mock_skyytweet.png&newest=1

    1. Trending Topics are meaningless for most people, I guess. – Except you’re a groupie of Justin Bieber and want to see his name on p1 almost each time when you check your tweets. 😉

      If MetroTwit gets a feature like that some day, please make it optional.

  10. Great initiatives, I had a sneak pic of your application at MeuWindows’s blog and it’s impressive. So far it looks like a promising application (not many are working with WPF) and it’s worth adding to my bookmarks.

    Thanks.

  11. Looks good Long.

    Although Twitter is just another time waster social network. But I guess it is useful for you marketing folk. I only use twitter occasionally so don’t need anything like this. =/

  12. Currently testing the beta, i’m sold!

    Will there be any options to reduce the number of columns to only one (like twhirl) ?

    1. This is already possible by clicking on the blue square with with the white number in it at the right side above each column.

    2. I saw that while playing with it, thank you :).

      There is a minimum size which i found a little to wide dor a single column. I hope that the team will allow us to reduce the size even more.

      Keep up the good work, even though the application is not finished , it has already replace twhirl for me.
      I only keep twhirl for url shortening and favorite.

  13. I liked the UI control of the application. I would ask on a post was created as the controls.
    If you have some places where I can find.. would be of great help!
    Thank you!

  14. How can you people live with such a huge Twitter client? Maybe you guys don’t keep it open 24/7 like I do… I prefer Blu on the PC and Tweetie on the Mac. They’re small enough to just shove in a corner and leave open. Blu fits in well with my desktop gadgets, and Tweetie sits in the top right corner. Never do I close them.

    Honestly, I’d NEVER be able to live with having such a huge Twitter client. Oh well, personal preference.

    1. Developping Metrotwit is the title.
      Downlod Technical Beta is the link to the program.

      Beta is an important information.It is also used on “Beta feedback form” which is self explanatory.

      You can criticize a released program, but a beta?

      Oh well, like you said.

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