New Year - New Dabr

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Way back in 2008, David Carrington created Dabr - a really simple mobile website for accessing Twitter.

In those days, Twitter had a kick-arse API and were happy for people to build exciting new services on it. I was eager to contribute and got stuck in to improving it.

Dabr was fast - much faster than the original mobile Twitter site. It had hashtag searching, reply-to-all, thumbnail previews of links, Twitpic integration, and a whole bunch of other interesting features. It was used by Chinese political dissidents to get around the Great Firewall, and some of the most popular Twitter users.

But, over the last few years, the project stagnated. Partly because Twitter didn't really release anything new with its API, partly because Dabr was complete. It did everything it was supposed to, and ran quite happily. The last significant code update was in 2013. Sure, there were a few bugs hanging around, but no one really had the motivation to do much about it.

Until now.

I thought it'd be a fun(!) Xmas project to resurrect Dabr, give the code-base a spring clean, a new lick of paint, squash some bugs, and improve the functionality. So I did.

You can log in to for the latest and greatest version. All the Dabr code is Open Source on GitHub - please raise bug reports there, and feel free to send pull requests.
Dabr Previews

What's New

This is a fairly comprehensive list of all the improvements.

  • Image upload.
  • Menus now use CSS fonts from Fontello. Looks nicer & faster to download.
  • Much better pagination support.
  • Twitter API via CodeBird.
  • Better embedding thanks to EmbedKit.
  • Layout changes & improvements.
  • Cleaner HTML. Should be lighter to download.
  • More options, including a new colour theme.
  • Better accessibility (Thanks Andy!)
  • JavaScript only used for character counter - nothing else.
  • HTTP Status messages display useful information.
  • ...lots more bug fixes πŸ™‚

To Do

There are still some kinks to work out. Feel free to add to the issues list or submit some code.

  • Hashtag linking is still dodgy - and doesn't work in bios.
  • Lists aren't available. Does anyone use them?
  • Image sending in Direct Messages doesn't work.
  • Conversation threading (made harder by lack of API).
  • Counter doesn't recognise URLs - gives misleading character count.
  • Translation text files. Currently everything is inline.
  • Better 404 handling.
  • General slimming down of HTML and CSS.

If you want to experience the new Dabr, point your phone, tablet, or desktop browser at

Dabr is designed to be simple to deploy on your own website. Visit Dabr on GitHub to find out more.

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11 thoughts on “New Year - New Dabr

  1. Fun new look. It morphed while I was on the site. -And I uploaded a pic on dabr for the 1st time! Yippee!
    Looks great all 'round. Only suggestion/ question: You used to be able to click on the 'Retweets' number & see who retweeted a given tweet. Doesn't seem to do that now. Not a biggie, but it WAS a very nice feature.
    Overall, what a nice surprise; love the 'recycle' icon for RT's, etc. And the nice big fat star icon.
    Here, here's a star for the redesign:

  2. Hey again! -Again, enjoying the new design (esp. being able to upload pics & not having to go to the vile, archaic & inexplicably glitchy inadequate Twitter site to do so), but here are a couple thoughts on a few details:

    1. The "retweeted by" username used to be above the RT'd tweet, in a fashion that was quick & easy to read, & also happened to match the way I often read Twitter, which is top-down. I'd immediately see who RT'd the tweet, which is informative & characterizes what I'm about to read (in a good way). The new positioning of this info at the bottom of the RT leaves me wondering "Who the f is this person & how did this get on my feed? -Oh." -It doesn't feel like a "still getting used to it" thing, & even when I'm reading tweets from bottom of page upwards I still see tweet itself before its "RT'd by" footnote. I really think the old positioning is better. Now I'm always scrolling up-down "So whoTF retweeted thi-- Ah!" -It used to be great IMHO.
    2. I always preferred dabr's use of each user's USERNAME (e.g., @lonelysandwich) instead of their name ("Adam Lisagor") as the more prominent, standout & clickable name. I never liked Twitter's switcheroo of that. And now I see that's the default/prominent name in the new dabr design. Yes, one could eventually come to remember the "2nd names" of one's followees & correspondents, but I think the username (the one with the @ in front of it) kind of IS the main username. @neilhimself, etc. -In some, the non-'user'-name is easily recognized anyway-- @MattZollerSeitz = Matt Zoller Seitz, @BeccaPiano = Becca Piano, etc., but in many many others [as above], it's not.

    Rather lengthy/wordy, I know, but when unshackled by '140'...

    Thank you! Oh, & though I don't use lists very often, I'm very glad you reinstated them. To this point I mostly use 'em to see who added me to what list, but I have lists of my own too.

    Thanks for all you do! Every time I use site I am both boggled at its failures & inadequacies & reminded of dabr's intelligent features/ design.


  3. At risk of being inveterate replier here, a couple new comments:

    Although I thought I'd be "six-of-one-half-a-dozen-of-the-other" about it if you ended up changing the icons (at the top of page and below each tweet), I'm finding the text-options beneath each tweet to be both difficult to press neatly (I've inadvertently fav'd at least 3 tweets tonight when trying to punch the "replied to" link, as well as inadvertently pressing the "via Twitter Mobile Web" etc. link at very bottom of tweet -- actually had had that problem even before the icons-to-words change... Sort of a tight space there. And I don't have fat fingers heh, I got piano-players' fingers but even so, tight squeeze there, before the icon-to-words change but even more now. Maybe needs a wee bit more vertical room between those three lines? ("Reply/Direct/Fav/RT/etc", "in reply to @thistweeter", "via Twitter for iPhone".

    Also, beyond that, and @jas0nbeats may disagree with me on this, I'm finding that my words-oriented brain is nonetheless 'feeling around' for what to press at the bottom if a tweet -- i.e. the Retweet, Favourite etc. I actually liked the nice fat star which turned bright yellow (very easy to scan a page for fav'd tweets) as well as the no-brainer quick visual of the big Retweet symbol, and all the others. I wonder how other people feel about this.

    The top-of-the-page icons elicited an INITIAL reaction, maybe a minute long, of "Hmmm... but what ARE they? Oh wait, that's gotta be 'Replies', oh sure that's 'settings' heh.." (etc.), till I got very used to the top icons very quick. I don't have a prob with top now having WORDS except that they too are a bit tight space-wise; haven't mis-punched yet but it feels a bit precarious. But that's regarding it being a bit CROWDED, not necessarily a pref. for top icons vs. words.

    OK that's a lotta stuff! A} I don't wanna be that "always-commenting-at-length-on-changes-details" girl, but tonight I really did have a hard time punching the "in reply to" link without punching the link above or below it by accident.


    B} Don't wanna foster a feeling on your part of being in the position of the Miller in Aesop's "The Miller, His Son and the Donkey", with everyone wanting something different and of course you can't 100% accommodate everyone's preferences...

    Those are my 2 cents, or probably $2.95 by now...

    Still appreciate and love the "Retweeted by" info now being at the top of the tweet! It's great you're so responsive to people's feedback, and I think you should put the tweets on the donkey and get off the donkey and walk beside it [c.f. "The Miller .." as mentioned] hur hur


  4. says:

    A project I wish I had the time & skill for is actually enhancing list views & management. Would love the ability to view lists better, tweets/members, and also shuffle the people around with lesser clicks, lists are primarily how I view twitter on the desktop, columns & colums in tweetdeck, ticking away. Managing it on the go is what I feel Twitter & every app out there is delivering poorly.

    If you have the motivation to, there are some users who'd appreciate development in this area, not that you've not done plenty as is, which is appreciated πŸ™‚

    1. says:

      Me again, some 5 years later. Was revisiting my own old blog posts and how I'd at this time in my life had to install my own version of dabr to get my twitter fix during office hours. Nostalgia aside -- is no more? Just redundant now or was there some other reason?

      I was thinking to upgrade to the latest version, if it still exists and functions. πŸ™‚

    1. @edent says:

      Hi, I don't maintain Dabr any more. You will need to ask the person you downloaded it from.


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