Posts Tagged ‘twitter’


New Birdsong Push Notification Service and v1.8

by Jon Sharratt

Just a quick post before the weekend to formally let you all know that myself and Joe today have released the new Birdsong push notification service.

Push Notification Service

We have released our shiny new service to Windows Azure today (a release on Friday…. naughty).  It has been a low risk release as the notification and live tile functionality as you all know hasn’t been working for a while.

With this in mind we wanted to get it right and have spent the past few weeks concentrating on implementing site streams from the twitter API to ensure we can provide you with almost instant notifications and live tile updates (phone connectivity depending).  I hope you all enjoy the new and improved service.  Development and testing has been an enjoyable challenge for myself, Joe and our test lead Samera.

NOTE: You will need to resave your notification settings for each account in your current Birdsong version (latest is v1.7) to take advantage of the new service.

NOTE: If you enable notifications in your current application favorited tweets and retweets will come through.  When version 1.8 is released these options will be configurable.

Birdsong v1.8 (Coming soon)

In regards to the next version of the Birdsong client we will be enhancing features for notifications to allow you to enable or disable toast notifications for favorites and retweets when they occur.

The final feature we have also added gives you the opportunity to turn on live in-app updates.  This feature will automatically refresh your timelines when you are mentioned or a direct message is sent to you.

As for the technologies we used and how the push notification was redesigned.  I shall leave that for another post…..

Have a great weekend, oh and don’t forget to set your do not disturb settings ;o)



by Jon Sharratt

Here at our (currently) sunny workshop in Clerkenwell, myself and the fellow badgers have being busy carefully crafting this, the new website and blog.

Internal projects here are run with an ethos of allowing software engineers to learn, trial and sometimes fail (but that’s ok!) with new technologies and methodologies.  To give you some insight, my background is heavily based on developing all things on the Microsoft technology stack.  It was a welcoming surprise that we were going to be getting ourselves knee deep into a complete opposite of what many of us were used to.  From hosting environments and development tools it was a journey of discovery that ended with a great product at the end of it (of course I am biased).  As with any product built here we like to share our experiences and give an insight on how we do it, so lets begin….

Amazon EC2

Previously the Red Badger website was hosted on Rack Space but we thought we would try out Amazon EC2.  The first thing we noticed is that the speed to setup instances from start to finish was incredibly easy and quick.  A massive plus is that EC2 has a layered approach to its infrastructure setup.  Elastic IPs gave us a great benefit and flexibility when we were releasing some of the bigger changes initially.  It allowed us to efficiently spin up a clone of the production instance then release to it and switch the Elastic IP association from staging to the new clone.  Straight away Samera could test the effects of the new release, giving the green light to release to production.


Ubuntu gave us a lean, fast operating system and being open source no license fees.  It has a great community and documentation for many of the tasks we required to setup.  I would say that Haro, Can and Stu had a much easier time setting up their local development environments being on Apple Macs.  It did take me a little while (running Windows 7)  to setup a Virtual Box with Ubuntu to get it up and running for development.  I used Samba to enable my Windows 7 based laptop to network share the files.  Additional to this, I setup port forwarding within Virtual Box to divert port 80 host traffic to the Ubuntu guest machine.  This meant I could work locally within my Windows 7 environment.  I would say though it took me a bit longer to get up and running because of the fact it was the first time I had ever used the Ubuntu operating system via command line.


Initially for the project we started using Apache but the team having done some research moved on to the decision to use the lightweight webserver Nginx which is pretty much built for speed.  The main difference is the fact that Apache’s model is process and thread based where-as Nginx is event based.  This means that rather than waiting around for a response to happen before continuing and blocking a thread, callbacks in an event driven architecture allow the thread to continue executing other jobs whilst still waiting for a response to respond to.  The configuration was simple and allowed us to very easily configure reverse proxying to Node.js along with caching of pages.


Apart from the blog section of the site the pages are rendered using Node.js.  The framework used was Express, it provides a quick and easy setup for the building blocks when building a website via Node.js web development.  The template engine is Jade which I found to be incredibly easy to use and takes a lot of the bolierplate code / html tags when writing templates for content managed websites.  The way in which we do this is to tell Nginx to reverse proxy requests and serve up the response from node.  This allows us to use WordPress as our content management system yet keeping the awesome capabilities of the blog features.


For the management of site content and general blogging (which is very much encouraged here at Red Badger) we chose the ever so popular WordPress.  We coupled the default install with a custom theme as well as installing a couple of extra magical plugins.  These plugins are Advanced Custom Fields, JSON API and Disqus to name a few.  Advanced Custom Fields is a great plugin that allows you to specify many new custom fields for certain pages turning your WordPress blog into an easy to use content management system.  These custom fields ranged from relationships, images, WYSIWG editors and more.  The JSON API plugin allowed Node.js to get relevant content as a JSON response and simply render out our Jade templates against the data.

Twitter Bootstrap

To give us superb results viewing across all devices we went for a responsive design and layout.  To do this we implemented the Twitter Bootstrap framework giving us a grid based layout / framework along with jump starting support across browsers.  You can see what I mean if you head to which provides a great site to roughly test what your responsive layout looks like on different mobile devices.  Another interesting aspect when building the site with Twitter Bootstrap was that we followed the route of using LESS for CSS for stylesheets on the site.  On Windows machines I would recommend Crunch to compile them all.  LESS for CSS provided some nice features for setting global colour variables amongst other elements to allow reuse and maintainability of our styles.

So all in all that about sums up the technologies and infrastructure which powers the new website.  Feel free to comment with any thoughts about the site or even the technology stack we decided upon.


Birdsong v1.2 Released!

by Cain Ullah

Birdsong v1.2 is now available in the marketplace!

v1.2 is all about filling the functionality gap and preparing for copy/paste. So what’s new?

  • Multiple accounts – via accounts.
  • Geo-tagging – you can attach your location, exact location or a nearby place to tweets.
    • Via settings you can control whether to always auto geo-tag all you tweets and whether you want to share your exact location by default.  These settings are account specific.
  • Configurable timeline font size – via settings.
  • Favourite/Unfavourite a tweet.
  • Share tweet/DM via Email or SMS
  • Delete Tweet
  • Delete Direct Message
  • Profile page now shows whether a user is following  you.
  • Threaded conversations automatically scroll to the bottom.
  • When viewing an individual tweet or DM, you can select enable copy from the application bar menu which switches the text of the message into copy mode.  This is in preparation for the March update that will introduce copy/paste.
  • About page (in settings) now links to the @redbadgerteam profile, our support portal (directly within the app) and a direct link to our announcements forum to see what’s new in the release.

What got fixed?

  • Certain lists didn’t allow you to tap the header to jump back to the top of the list (like favourites).  They  do now.
  • Retweets now propagate across all timelines not just the one you retweeted from.
  • Opening some links in Internet Explorer caused an unhandled exception.
  • Some minor translations have been fixed.
  • We’ve upgraded to the latest version of Rx (Reactive Extensions).  The previous version had a serious bug in that would throw random NullReferenceExceptions.  With the new version Microsoft have fixed this.

If you experience any problems or have any feedback we want to know about it – let us know via or you can email:

We hope you enjoy Birdsong v1.2. If you haven’t already got it you can get it in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

We’re already working on push notifications (live tile / toast) to be shipped with v1.3 so watch out for that!


Birdsong v1.1 Released

by Cain Ullah

LogoWe are happy to announce v1.1 of Birdsong is now available.

This release is primarily about stability and performance.  We’ve tried to address all known issues and done a ton of performance work which should mean the whole app is a bit faster and updates are far quicker.

Along with greater speed and stability v1.1 also brings:

  • Runs under lock screen.
  • Landscape mode is now supported throughout the application (bar a couple of places).
  • Multi-lingual support: English (United States), English (United Kingdom), German, French, Spanish and Italian.

The following major issues should now be resolved:

  • Tweeting certain special characters sometimes resulted in failure to send a tweet.
  • Retweeting a mention resulted in message entities no longer being highlighted.
  • Using Birdsong on some form of “guest wireless” which required sign-in via a web-form, caused an unexpected error.
  • Unable to scroll beyond the first few favourites.

We have implemented a migration strategy so that v1.1 will make some changes in the background without effecting your current data or settings. The data store will now work very differently to provide you with enhanced performance.

With v1.1 we’re also changing how we deal with support issues and feedback.  All support issues will now be serviced via our new support portal; which offers ticket management, user forums and feature requests all in one place.  The support portal can be found at:

If you experience any problems or have any feedback we want to know about it – let us know via the support forums or you can email:

If you do not already have Birdsong for Windows Phone 7 it is available in the Windows Phone Marketplace.


Birdsong Feedback Is Moving

by David Wynne

One of the changes we’re making with the upcoming release of v1.1 of Birdsong is how we deal with support and feedback.  As of today we have moved support, feedback, user forums and feature requests all under one happy roof at our brand new support portal at

Naturally you’ve got questions as to why we’re moving everything and what’s going to happen to the feedback you’ve already provided; hopefully we can answer those questions here.

Why the change?
We want to offer the best support, respond to all feedback and hear your feature requests.  We couldn’t do that all in one place under our old feedback site.  With the new one we can.

What happens to requests I’ve already made?
Worry not, if you head over to the new Feature Requests forum you’ll find them all there.  We’ve moved over all the feedback, all the comments and kept a record of the number of votes each request had.

How do I vote for something on the new site?
The new forum has a similar voting concept that will allow the most popular features to bubble to the top.  Instead of assigning a limited number of votes, you can simply choose to “like” an idea.

What happened to my votes?
Unfortunately we can’t alter the number of votes an idea has on the new site, so it will appear everything has started back at 0.  Fear not however, we’ve recorded the number of votes each idea had in the description on the new site and we promise we’ll take them into account when prioritising features.

What else do I get?
Announcements on upcoming releases, a Community Help forum so the Birdsong community can start helping each other out, and an integrated experience with our new support ticketing system.


We’d like to thank everyone who’s provided feedback and feature requests to date – your feedback genuinely has an impact on what we choose to work on next – so don’t stop!

The new home of support and feedback for Birdsong is


Birdsong Quick Tip: Status Bar Icons

by Cain Ullah

The status bar in Birdsong provides you with an ‘at a glance’ view of the status of your timelines. To make the ‘at a glance’ status more intuitive it relies on iconography so following on from David’s Tweet Property Icons blog earlier today – this is a very brief blog explaining the icons used in the status bar.

Timeline Icons

Status Bar

Each timeline will have an icon associated to it to identify the timeline type. A brief description of each is below:

Friend Home – This timeline will include tweets for everyone you follow

Mention Mentions – Every tweet in which your tweet screen name is mentioned will appear in this timeline

DirectMessage Messages – Contains Direct Message conversations between yourself and other people who follow you

List List – Any saved list that you have specifically added in the timeline configuration will have this icon associated to it. If you have multiple lists configured they icon will be the same for them all.

Search Search – This is again a specifically configured timeline. This may be a saved search or a new search but both will be identified with this icon.

Download Status

When Birdsong is attempting to download your latest tweets, status indicators appear next to the timeline icons.

Status Bar - free icon set Updating – When a timeline is being updated, this indicator will appear next to the icon for that timeline. This will only appear on one timeline at a time. In the image to the right the list timeline is currently being updated.

Status Bar - No free icon set Update failed – If Birdsong experiences a problem whilst updating one of your timelines a sad face icon will appear next to the relevant timeline icon. This is most commonly caused when Birdsong can’t access the internet.

These icons will remain there until the next successful download.

So, as I said, a very brief blog but hopefully this will be of some help to some of you.

Follow us at @redbadgerteam and don’t forget to feedback with any new enhancement requests and vote on existing ones. We will be prioritising our development according to user demand.

Get Birdsong Now!



Birdsong Quick Tip: Tweet Property Icons

by David Wynne

One of our favourite features of Birdsong is the Tweet Property Icons – they appear to the bottom right of tweets in your timeline and quickly let you know what lies within.  Here’s a quick run-down of what they look like and what they mean.


If you see the conversation icon, it indicates that the tweet was “in reply to” someone and you’ll be able to tap through to the conversation and see every response in context.





Birdsong’s integrated picture viewer recognises and integrates with all the major picture services (twitpic, yfrog, flickr, plixi and moby).  If you see the picture icon, you’ll get a thumbnail of the picture which you can tap on to view in full screen.



We integrate with Bing Maps, so if your friends geo-tag their tweets you’ll get a thumbnail map of their location and be able to tap through to a full interactive Bing Map.




If you’ve earmarked a tweet as a favourite, you’ll see the star tweet property icon in your timeline.





Some of your friends may choose to limit who can see their tweets and protect their account – if you’re one of the special ones,  you can feel even more special with this delightful padlock icon.


Follow us at @redbadgerteam to pick up on more quick tips!

Download Birdsong from Zune Now!


Birdsong – A new Twitter client for Windows Phone 7

by Cain Ullah

ApplicationIcon1Red Badger are pleased to announce the release of Birdsong for Windows Phone 7, a premium Twitter application.  Birdsong provides a native, performant and functionally rich experience throughout.  Its innovative design has features such as infinite scrolling and off-line viewing that are powered by a custom document database.

Version 1 has shipped with a hatful of cool functionality and there’s lots more to come (version 1.1 is in development already).

We’ll be posting a number of blogs and videos demonstrating Birdsong’s functionality over the next few days and weeks; but for now, here is an overview of some of the key features.

Configurable Timelines

Timelines on the home screen are configurable. You can add lists, saved searches and new searches as well as changing the order in which the timelines appear.

01 - Configure Timelines 101 - Configure Timelines 201 - Configure Timelines 3

Integrated Picture Viewing

Tweets with pictures in your timeline are easy to spot using the tweet property icons.  An integrated image viewer then allows you to view the pictures in thumbnail and full-screen mode.

03 - Pictures 103 - Pictures 203 - Pictures 303 - Pictures 4

Threaded Conversations

Conversations are flagged with a tweet property icon.  Threaded conversations allow you to view an entire conversation in context.

04 Threaded Conversations 104 Threaded Conversations 204 Threaded Conversations 3

Direct Message Threading

Birdsong’s direct messages are organised like an email inbox.  All direct messages between you and your friends are automatically threaded.

05 - Direct Messages05 - Direct Messages 2


Geo-tagged tweets are marked with a tweet property icon in your timeline.  Birdsong supports map previews and Bing Maps integration.

07 Places 107 Places 207 Places 3

TwitPic Integration

Share existing or new photos using the fast TwitPic integration.

08 TwitPic Integration 108 TwitPic Integration 208 TwitPic Integration 3

Integrated Web Browser

Using the integrated browser you can view web links without leaving Birdsong – there’s no need to launch Internet Explorer (although you can).

09 Integrated Web Browser 109 Integrated Web Browser 2

Status Bar

The status bar shows your configured timelines, which one you are currently viewing, your unread counts and each timeline’s update status.

10 Status Bar


You can explore anyone’s profile, their timeline, friends, followers and favourites.

11 - Profile 111 - Profile 2

Integrated Theme

Birdsong will automatically inherit your theme settings, honouring your choice of background and accent colour.

12 - Theme 112 - Theme 2

Birdsong is available now in the Windows Phone Marketplace and has a (more or less) fully featured trial.

Don’t forget – version 1.1 is on its way, with even more functionality, but in the mean time if there is anything you want adding please let us know.

Get Birdsong Now!