It hasn’t been long since we featured an app by Bleak Grey, but he’s back at it. This month we’re taking a look at Tootle, a brand new native Mastodon client for elementary OS.
If you’ve not heard of Mastodon, it’s an open source Twitter-like service designed for anyone to be able to spin up an “instance.” Each of these instances, however, can talk to all of the other compatible—or federated—instances. An easy analogy for instances is like email providers: each is run by different people in different places on the Internet, but they’re all inter-compatible with one another because they all speak the same protocols.
In a nutshell, Mastodon is a decentralized and open source social network that’s gotten a lot of press recently. You can read more about it at joinmastodon.org.
Tootle, then, is a native client for your Mastodon accounts, allowing you to see the timeline, get notifications, and send “toots” (short messages, like “tweets”) out to the world. It looks and works a lot like a desktop Twitter app, but is super fast and designed specifically for Mastodon.
The Story of Tootle
After developing Transporter, Bleak Grey wanted to dive into something a little more complex and challenging. He had also recently discovered Mastodon, and in looking for a native client to run on elementary OS, found that there wasn’t really anything out there. So he kicked off development, and after around a month of development, released the first version to the world on AppCenter.
Since then he’s seen a few hundred downloads, which he says helps drive him to continue to develop it and add features. If you grab Tootle, be sure to mention @firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know you appreciate it!
Tootle today seems incredibly feature-complete, at least compared to how I use Mastodon. You can send toots, attach photos, get live updates streaming into your timeline, follow users, boost (like a retweet), favorite, search, and view profiles. There’s even a handful of useful settings, like a dark mode and the ability to receive notifications when the main window is closed (which I highly suggest you toggle on!).
There’s also an upcoming release for Tootle that adds what Bleak is calling “Watchlists.” This new feature allows you to watch specific users or hashtags, and get notifications any time that user toots or someone mentions that hashtag. It’s a great feature that is similar to something you can get on Twitter, but able to be implemented client-side due to the open APIs of Mastodon. Bleak says he sees watchlists being useful for situations like giveaways where you want to get live updates about a certain user or hashtag. I think it’s also great for low-volume status accounts to warn you of outages or service interruptions in real time. Regardless of how it’s used, it’s awesome to see interesting new features like this coming to a native app first.
Tootle is available on AppCenter today for free. Like all apps on AppCenter, its source code is also openly-licensed and available on GitHub.
As with Transporter, Bleak encourages people who want to help out with Tootle to get involved in any way they can — issues, ideas, feature requests, and pull requests are all welcome. Check the details on GitHub.
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