Twitter launches a new web app

An article, posted more than 4 years ago filed in twitter, facebook, react, ApplicationCache, cache, apple, google, ios, app, progressive web app, future & webapp.

Targeted at those with low spec phones, Twitter today launched Twitter Lite, a product build on a modern suite of technologies that should be ring a bell with most front-enders today.

Twitter launches a new web app

The new Twitter frontend is built using React (nb. made by Facebook), Redux, Normalizr, Globalize, Babel, Webpack, Jest, WebdriverIO, and Yarn (they have written about how they built it.

It is a good thing to see a large company not giving up on the open web. I’ve added the new Twitter Lite app to my phone (running iOS) and see if it can replace the native app (as I did with Facebook before). My first impression is pretty good. Most importantly, as promised: it loads faster, even without support for ServiceWorkers (while iOS 1.0 only allowed for web apps, its level of support is kind of bleak when compared to the efforts made by Google and Firefox). It could use some animation for a bit sleeker experience, but overall it looks good.

The technologies required for making a great web experience seem to ripen, nowadays pushed forward by the Progressive Web App movement lead by mostly Google (& Mozilla, although it has lost its stake in the open mobile web with giving up on its own FirefoxOS). Apple is still lacking behind, although it is perfectly possible to make great working apps today if you’re allowing yourself to use some soon hopefully obsolete techniques like ApplicationCache and iOS specific declarations in the header to instruct the iOS browser to cache static material forever and serve it off-line, respectively to have it display full screen and as a separate app.

But while just waiting for Apple to finish its browser-engine Webkit maybe the most pragmatic stance, just building great apps using the latest and the greatest technologies will truly push things forward. And then it definitely helps if your size is that of Twitter.

Twitter’s move is pushing the web forward, adopting new technologies for an open future, while still making a good product.

I do think they could have done better, though. I’m not sure whether the technology stack chosen is the best bet for a lite app. Not when using react (the weight of the script alone is 300kb gzipped, even though you arguably could cache that asset for a long time). But that’s a different story ;)

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