I’ve been a fan of the Firefox addon Echofon for years now, for me it’s the only way to use twitter. I find it invaluable, and also use the companion iPhone app. So I was somewhat dismayed when naan studio released version 2.0, which totally ruined the main things that made Echofon so usable for me.
Echofon 2.0+ no longer displays a count of unread tweets in the status bar. The icon is just grey if there are none, or blue if there are any. How many? You have no idea unless you click on it. I treat my tweets a bit like email, texts, or RSS feeds – I like to know how many I have to catch up on, so I hate this. I hate it so much, it would give me sufficient cause to uninstall Echofon immediately. But it wasn’t the only thing they managed to screw up.
The window is now absolutely terrible at keeping up with your unread tweets, too! They tried to implement a new system – kind of like the “scroll down/click to load more messages” functionality that is becoming increasingly common on the web. But here, it doesn’t work properly. It keeps skipping back and forth in the timeline, and jumping you back up to the top if a new tweet comes in. This means you hardly ever get to catch up on a long backlog of unread tweets.
I was all set to give Echofon the boot, until I realised I might be able to revert back to an older version… and after some finagling, I did indeed manage just that! There are a few caveats though, I have had to jump through some hoops to get it (and keep it) working, and it’s got to the point where I thought it might be worthwhile writing it all down. It might be useful to someone else, or I might forget how to do it myself! :-p
First things first: the last pre-2.0 version of Echofon that was released was 188.8.131.52. For some reason, it was never put up for download from the Firefox addons page, or from naan studios’ own site; fortunately, you can get it here.
Version 184.108.40.206 supports Firefox 4. Unfortunately, every time you start Firefox, it’s going to want to update Echofon – so we need to turn off checking for updates. I spent ages looking for how to do this, and none of the methods I found worked – turns out they were for Firefox 3.x, and Firefox 4.x has made things much easier! Just go to Tools > Add-ons > Extensions, right-click on Echofon 220.127.116.11, and select Show More Information. Down where it says Automatic Updates, set them to Off. Firefox will now no longer bug you about updating to the rubbish 2.0+ version!
Of course, now we’re on Firefox 5.x (or even 6.x) now, and unfortunately 18.104.22.168 doesn’t work with anything post 4.x…. Or at least, it doesn’t without some further fiddling!
The first thing I did was to simply change the maximum version of Firefox that it would run with manually. (Note that I don’t actually know if this step is still required; the next step might take care of it, so you might want to skip this bit and only come back if you need to.) Open the Echofon folder inside your Firefox profile folder (this can usually be found in Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\extensions\email@example.com). In there you should find a file called install.rdf. Open that using Wordpad, and look for the string 4.0.*. Change that from 4.0.* to 5.0.* and Echofon will run in Firefox 5!
Unfortunately, it will run, but it won’t work in Firefox 5. However, there is a further modification we can carry out. By borrowing some files from the latest, rubbish version of Echofon, we can make it work! I found out about this method by trawling through the review section of the Echofon addon page; a guy called Ramoks posted a link to this page. It has instructions in Russian and English; I’m going to replicate the instructions here, just in case that page goes walkabout, but credit for the procedure should not go to me!
1. Setup Echofon 22.214.171.124 (you should have already done this)
2. Download the latest version of Echofon from here (right-click on the download link and choose “Save link as…” to avoid Firefox trying to install it!)
3. Unpack the file you just downloaded using a program such as WinRAR, 7-zip or WinZip
4. Go to the folder \echofon_for_twitter-2.0.8-fx\platform\WINNT
5. Copy folders “5” and “6”
6. Paste these folders in the folder Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\extensions\firstname.lastname@example.org\platform\WINNT
7. In the folder email@example.com find the file “chrome.manifest” and edit it with Wordpad. Before the lines beginning “locale twitternotifier ar…” add the text:
# Firefox 5
binary-component platform/WINNT/5/echofon.dll ABI=WINNT_x86-msvc appversion>=5.0
# Firefox 6
binary-component platform/WINNT/6/echofon.dll ABI=WINNT_x86-msvc appversion>=6.0a2
8. Save the file. Restart Firefox.
…and that should be you up and running with a non-ruined version of Echofon! Enjoy!
EDIT: Actually, not quite. I’ve found it works for reading tweets only, it won’t post my tweets. However, it does seem that naan studio have finally added unread count back in Echofon 2.1, so maybe I can go back to using the latest version and the above info becomes redundant… Here’s hoping!