Comparing Inoreader’s user interface for their internal tweets versus RSS tweets

For a long time I’ve been consuming the majority of my Twitter feed within various feed readers. My most frequent feed reader is Inoreader, though I’ve been experimenting with and using some IndieWeb influenced microsub-based feed readers for quite a while.

Earlier today I thought I’d try out Inoreader’s Twitter integration and subscribe to some of my twitter lists using that instead of importing feeds directly from outside services. (I’ve been a big fan of using Ryan Barrett’s Twitter-Atom and related tools.) One of the things that had always bothered me about third party RSS feeds into most feed readers is that the author of the post is in such tiny text and there is no avatar indicator of who wrote the post. As a result I’m stuck spending a lot more cognitive load trying to discern the author of a tweet before or after reading it. It just boils down to less than optimal user interface.

Fortunately Inoreader seems to have a slightly better method for doing this (since they control the user interface and are presumably using the Twitter API). Within their reader, Tweets look a tad bit more standard with respect to the usual Twitter client and include an avatar and the name of the author in larger font. Sadly, though they have control over the UI, they’re still including a bolded version of the the text of the tweet as a title and thereby needlessly duplicating some of the content. It would be far better for notes, status updates and other content that typically doesn’t have (or need) a title if they would simply just leave it out. They could then use the extra space to have a larger font for reading the short status update. In fact, most of the IndieWeb-based feeds I read in Inoreader have these unnecessary titles included which typically not only look bad from a UI perspective, but they again needlessly duplicate content I don’t need.

Below I’m including screenshots of the two different methods of reading Tweets via Inoreader. I’m also including a screenshot of how Tweets look like in Monocle when fed in via the same Atom feed that was used in the Inoreader case. In Monocle’s version, it’s got a nice larger and easier to discern author name, but it too is missing the author photo (or avatar), in part because the feed doesn’t include it as a default. I suspect that if the feed included it, Monocle would display it properly though the Inoreader version probably wouldn’t. The Monocle version also includes a copy of the photo in the Tweet twice because the feed adds it in a second time as an enclosure.

UI example of a tweet within Inoreader using their native Twitter support.
UI example of a tweet within Inoreader imported using a third party RSS-based client.
UI example of a tweet within Monocle imported using a third party RSS-based client.

For completeness, I’m including the text of the Atom feed for this particular tweet so that we can see what is or isn’t being included in the Inoreader and Monocle versions.

<entry>
<author>
 <activity:object-type>http://activitystrea.ms/schema/1.0/person</activity:object-type>
 <uri>https://twitter.com/BigHistoryPro</uri>
 <name>Big History Project</name>
</author>
    <activity:object-type>http://activitystrea.ms/schema/1.0/note</activity:object-type>
  <id>https://twitter.com/BigHistoryPro/status/1195385992728985600</id>
  <title>In an ideal world, you’d have 1-on-1 time with every student to discuss every...</title>
  <content type="xhtml">
  <div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
In an ideal world, you’d have 1-on-1 time with every student to discuss every aspect of every writing assignment. With BHP score, you come close. <br />
<a href="https://bh-p.co/2N1xopV">bh-p.co/2N1xopV</a>
<p>
<a class="link" href="https://twitter.com/BigHistoryPro/status/1195385992728985600">
<img class="u-photo" src="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EJbdObjXkAQ6QNw.jpg" alt="" />
</a>
</p>
  </div>
  </content>
  <link rel="alternate" type="text/html" href="https://twitter.com/BigHistoryPro/status/1195385992728985600" />
  <link rel="ostatus:conversation" href="https://twitter.com/BigHistoryPro/status/1195385992728985600" />
      <link rel="ostatus:attention" href="https://bh-p.co/2N1xopV" />
      <link rel="mentioned" href="https://bh-p.co/2N1xopV" />   <activity:verb>http://activitystrea.ms/schema/1.0/post</activity:verb>
  <published>2019-11-15T17:00:04+00:00</published>
  <updated>2019-11-15T17:00:04+00:00</updated>
  <link rel="self" type="application/atom+xml" href="https://twitter.com/BigHistoryPro/status/1195385992728985600" />
      <link rel="enclosure" href="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EJbdObjXkAQ6QNw.jpg" type="image/jpeg" />
</entry>

In sum, I generally like the UI of the Inoreader version, though they could still do with removing the redundant and unnecessary title. The Monocle version is likely the best, but I’d need to find a feed method that also includes the avatar to have a better representation of the original Tweet. Even with these differences, I think I tend to prefer Monocle at the end of the day because it also automatically includes Micropub functionality which means that I can post my reactions (likes, reposts, or comments) directly to my website and syndicate copies directly to Twitter. (This is also in consideration of my previously having set up some separate functionality for forcing Inoreader to allow me to post some of this same sort of data to my website by other means.)

Has anyone found better/prettier or more useful ways of consuming Twitter in third party means while allowing one to own their data?

Published by

Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

10 thoughts on “Comparing Inoreader’s user interface for their internal tweets versus RSS tweets”

  1. Hey Chris. We are actually testing an improved layout for microblogs right now. It’s live in our beta, so you can give it a go whenever you like. Just open Inoreader Preferences and click the Beta link at the bottom. We are discussing it on Discord. You’ll see the link there too.


  2. Hi Chris you should try the new html version of twitter-atom, it includes author photos! You should also try subscribing to your feed on unicyclic.com. I’m really happy with how it’s looking in my reader, and will put the challenge out there that it’s the nicest looking twitter display available in a feed reader. 🙂

    1. Malcolm, thanks for the reminder. I’ve been meaning to circle around and test out Unicyclic’s reader. It’s very slick looking and wonderfully clean.

      I do wonder where the html version of twitter-atom you mention is hiding? Do you mean the HTML output from granary.io? I tried that and indeed your Twitter output is one of the better looking ones out there. I piped it into Monocle as well and that has a pretty solid appearance too. One of the subtle differences that I notice between the two is whether the context that the tweet is a reply to another tweet is above (Monocle) or below (Unicyclic) the tweet content itself. I’m not quite sure which I personally prefer, though I suspect that if put to a vote, the majority of the public may think above makes more sense–especially since that’s the way Twitter works, though I think there’s a case to be made that the order should be changed in a feed reader. I really like the way you’re using the reply and quotation icons within the tweets to provide better visual context. It’s a really nice visual shortcut to quickly provide context.

      I think my favorite part is that I can give you an OPML file to import feeds. I wish some of the microsub clients did this. (Of course I tried handing Unicyclic a huge OPML feed with 85 sources and it died just a few in, but still it’s way better than moving all my follow data over one at a time using cut and paste.) Keep up the good work!

    2. Malcolm, I’m noticing you have both a u-categoryand a u-in-reply-to wrapped on the URL of my post in your replies. I’m curious what function the category serves for you? As a result, the WordPress post-type discovery algorithm makes all of your “replies” show up in my set up as “tags” instead. I’m not sure if it’s a quirk on your end, or maybe if it’s something I should file as a bug to the WordPress plugin?

  3. ah you’re right it is hiding a bit… I went through the process of regenerating my twitter feed to find it, but you don’t need to do that. Just change the url from starting with: https://twitter-atom.appspot.com/atom? to: https://twitter-atom.appspot.com/html? to get the microformats version.

    thanks for the feedback as well! Having context above or below sounds like a good setting to add so that people can choose. Happy to look at why your OPML didn’t finish importing… is it a public list somewhere I can look at?

    1. I should have guessed about Twitter-atom, but then when looking at it again I notice that the app itself actually has a radio button toggle for switching between the two! PEBCAK!

      I keep a number of OPML files available on my website if you want to run some tests. I was honestly surprised that I could even put in a URL to any of them and have your reader begin to pull any of them in. As a caveat for troubleshooting, I’m using the older OPML v1(?) spec built into WordPress and not the more recent one and that may have caused the issue. There may also be some sites listed in some of the files that don’t actually have feeds associated with them and that may be another cause of the problem.

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