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Side Project Spotlight: ComboTweet

I first met John Nastos, jazz saxophonist and developer extraordinaire, to talk about his then-recent side project of his: the now much praised Twitter hashtag definition engine, Tagalus, at Urban Grind NW many months ago. I remembered reviewing the alpha, praising its usefulness and suggesting the front-and-center highlight of the phrase “@tagalus define __________ as __________.”

But right after we finished talking about this, he went on and asked if I wanted to see another side project of his called “Tagalus MultiTweet,”

ComboTweet Screenshot

Tagalus MultiTweet has since changed name to ComboTweet, but what I saw then didn’t dissapoint.

What Makes ComboTweet Unique

ComboTweet Tabs and Multi User

Tabs and multi-user capability. ComboTweet is “an AJAX Twitter client that lets you use multiple accounts simultaneously.” If there is one thing that kept me from adopting a Twitter client for a very long time, it’s probably because of the lack of these two features. Sure, clients like Tweetdeck supports multiple panels, and Twhirl multiple instances, but I have yet to see one that adopts tabbed tweeting, and adopt it well. But what about Destroy Twitter, you ask? It has the best implementation of this idea so far, but it also lacks the ability to tweet from multiple accounts.

Little dependencies, runs locally. Another feature that I increasingly demand from a web application is the ability to own the data and do whatever I want with it. A great first step to do this is to have the said application run and store data in a place that you own, whether it’s your laptop, desktop or hosting server.

This is great and all, you say, but Adobe AIR and Microsoft Silverlight already does the same thing. Yes, but not only are they proprietary standards, they also require a piece of software to be installed in order for the software to run properly. ComboTweet solves this problem nicely by being built entirely using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other technologies used as standards on the web today. The result is a software that you can run at whatever place you own.

Freely available. In fact, you can download and run its latest version right now by going to its GitHub project page.

But waitaminute. Is that a ‘Shizzow’ tab I see up there? You’re right. ComboTweet can also shout from Shizzow, a Portland-built location-based social service (that coincidentally was born as a side project.) Now, I don’t know about you, but I like my Tweets and location check-in be in one convenient place.

More Features

ComboTweet's Tabbed Browsing Preference

Don’t like the whole tabbed tweeting deal? ComboTweet’s default is to use multiple panels, TweetDeck-style.

ComboTweet Filtered Panel

Like making groups that contain people from the same categories? Check.

ComboTweet Twitter Search Integration

The ability to create a new panel/tab and populate it with any Twitter search query? Done.

ComboTweet: Follow With Multiple Twitter Accounts

Want to follow a user on multiple account all at the same time? Check that one, too.

The Future

By now, you’d think that there’s enough feature on ComboTweet to make it a powerful, usable and lightweight Twitter client. But John Nastos seem to like thinking in the manner of most other side project creators’: big and fast. When I talked to him last time and commended the app’s integration of Shizzow, I also asked him one question. I wondered, I said, if there will be an ability to have ComboTweet be a client for virtually any social network application out there? Because, you know, it was designed to be modular, right?

Well, if it has an API— he said, half-smirking, half-hesitating to continue and spoil all the fun.

By that point, I knew that ComboTweet isn’t just another side project.

Want Your Side Project Covered?

I believe that Portland’s abundance of little side projects that developers do because they love it, is part of what makes our creative/tech scene unique. To this end, I’m always on the lookout for your ideas. Bother me at, and let’s set something up.