Building Our Future on elementary OS

We've been working hard over the past several months to get Birdie 2.0 polished up and ready for users to enjoy, and we are almost ready to share a preview with the world. More news about that will be coming very soon, but before that we need to go ahead and make an important announcement about the direction that we will be taking Birdie in the future.

Birdie was originally created to provide the best Twitter experience possible on elementary OS. It was tightly integrated with the native platform and was visually designed with elementary OS in mind. For example, much of the original visual design work, such as the padding surrounding the elements in each Tweet box, was done by Daniel Foré, the founder of the elementary project. Birdie has always been closely affiliated with the elementary platform. As Birdie grew in popularity, more and more users wanted to be able to get a similar experience for their chosen desktop environments, so Birdie was expanded and adapted to work on many different Linux distributions. While these adaptations opened up Birdie to new users, the cost of this additional development caused forward progress to stall. Simply put, Birdie began to lag behind.

Today, we are announcing that we will no longer be supporting multiple Linux distributions and desktop environments. We are dedicated to making the absolute best Twitter client possible, and doing that means choosing a specific target platform and designing the entire user experience from start to finish. To put it bluntly, Birdie is no longer a Twitter app for GNU/Linux; instead, it will be the best Twitter app for elementary OS. We know that this will initially be an unpopular decision with users running Birdie on non-elementary systems, but we strongly believe that it's the right direction for us. We will explain why in detail momentarily.

But before that, we want to take the time to thank those who have used Birdie on other systems, and we wish to extend an invitation for them to try Corebird. Corebird, as you may already know, is an absolutely terrific Twitter app, and should serve your needs well. Birdie will differentiate itself by providing a superior experience in elementary OS, but on other platforms we encourage you to consider Corebird. Yes, it's true that we are technically competing with them, but in the free software world the competition is friendly, and we applaud the developers' excellent work.

So why is Birdie focusing on elementary OS? Here are a list of reasons:

  • elementary OS is ESSENTIAL to making Birdie look its best. Birdie 2.0 is built on top of some really great APIs that are exclusive to elementary OS, such as support for developers to specify branding colors, and new features in the Granite framework, like the lovely rounded avatars that you will find throughout the app. Birdie shines in elementary.

  • Birdie will integrate with Pantheon Online Accounts. Now, instead of logging into multiple Twitter applications, you can do one system-wide login and Birdie will have access to your account without needing additional permissions. This makes it much faster and easier for users to sign into Twitter and use the great social features throughout the entire system.

  • Tightly integrated sharing between applications. On elementary OS, Birdie can take advantage of both Contractor and Pantheon Online Accounts to share data to and from other applications. This means that, eventually, you could send tweets from Vocal about a cool podcast episode that you're listening to, save a tweet from Birdie to Pocket, tweet a photo directly from your Pantheon Photos library, or take a picture from a tweet in Birdie and email it to a friend using Pantheon Mail. The best experience for users is one where data can be easily shared between all your favorite services and apps.

  • We want Birdie to be the best Twitter app on any platform, and there's no way to do that by supporting many different distros. If we support multiple distributions with multiple desktop environments, all with different themes and icons, and all with different software packages available, there's no way to ensure that the experience we create for users is the one that they actually receive. There's also no way that we can test and troubleshoot the app on every distribution, or work through distro-specific problems. Doing so takes time away that could be used to add more features and fix bugs. Besides, it just isn't possible to adequately support all distributions.

We hope that you understand our decision and stay with us as we move forward into the future.

Nathan Dyer, on behalf of the entire Birdie Team