In my last review, I covered a Firefox extension for Twitter called Echofon. I decided to look for Twitter applications (both desktop and Firefox extensions), because of an interest in the NBA free agency period rumors surrounding LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others. To better keep an eye out on the latest “information,” I followed a bunch of NBA insiders and waited for the next juicy nugget. In this article, I’ll be discussing a different Firefox extension, called Twitbin.
Unlike Echofon, which places an icon in your Firefox status bar then pops up notification bubbles whenever your Timeline receives a new Tweet, Twitbin actually places the entire interface right in a handy Firefox sidebar, which you can keep visible permanently, or hide it when you want to get some serious work done.
First, Twitbin is really nice looking. The individual Tweets are easily separated with a classy, instant message theme, with each in its own little bubble (see the first screenshot). In that simple-looking interface is a lot of power. By click the little icon immediately below each poster’s picture, you’ll get a drop-down menu that allows you to add the post to your favorites, follow or unfollow the poster, report as spam & block the poster, and retweet the post, with or without comments.
In the second tab, you’ll see all the posts that were replies to Tweets you had made. There is a third tab for direct messages, and another for your favorite Tweets. You can also view a public stream in its own tab, as well as Twitter lists and searches.
Twitbin isn’t just for viewing your Timeline. You can post to your own Twitter account, and Twitbin makes it simple to post a picture to the Pikchur image sharing website. Similarly, if you’re on a website and you want to link to a URL you found, right-click the URL and down near the bottom of the pop-up menu you’ll see the “Tweet This!” option. Click that, and Twitbin automatically sends the URL to your status update area, after passing it through the http://j.mp/ URL shortening service. The one drawback to Twitbin’s implementation of URL shortening is that if you type a full URL into the status update box, you don’t get the same service.
Still, Twitbin, by and large, is a nice extension. It doesn’t offer the same notification bubbles as does Echofon (and most desktop applications, for that matter), but the idea is that if you aren’t using it, you want it out of the way… completely. And if you have the sidebar visible, then you don’t need the notification bubbles. At least I assume that’s the reasoning. It’s a nice mix, though. It has the feel of a desktop application, only trapped in a web sidebar, so it’s not going to get hidden like a second application could, but you can easily move it out of the way to avoid distraction. Good stuff.
About the only thing I don’t like is that in addition to Twitbin, there is also Twitbin Pro. I’m not sure what extra features Twitbin Pro brings to the table, other than “no ads” being a selling point. Yes, Twitbin has ads. Refreshing your messages generally brings one at the top of your Timeline. Currently I’m looking at one from the Wall Street Journal. Refreshing the Timeline again changes the top Tweet to one from the New York Times. They aren’t incredibly annoying, but I never like free programs with built-in advertising. I’d rather have fewer features in the free version and more advanced options in the pro version. But that’s just me. I can’t complain too much. The ads aren’t obnoxious (I may even click on one, once in a while!), and Twitbin is free, after all. In spite of the ads, it is definitely an extension I’d recommend.