Twitter Keyboard Shortcuts

I’m a Tweetie fanatic — even if they haven’t updated Tweetie for Mac in ages and probably never will again — so I don’t use the #newtwitter web app very much at all.

The other day I just happened to look at the footer and notice a link labeled Shortcuts. It opens the following layer:

It was a pleasant surprise to learn that so much thought had gone into optimizing for keyboard use. According to Lifehacker, they’re a lot like the keyboard shortcuts for Gmail, which I suppose if I were a Gmail user (as most Twitter users are) is something I would appreciate.

I’ve written about inconsistencies in keyboard shortcuts before, and yes I’m a stickler for details. I’m disappointed to find that only four of the shortcuts are the same between Tweetie for Mac (now owned by Twitter) and the Twitter web app — F for favorite, R for reply, N for new, and spacebar to scroll.

Tweetie for Mac’s keyboard shortcuts are:

What are the limitations we face in creating a unified set of keyboard shortcuts across multiple platforms? What are the constraints for website versus desktop? And how can these shortcuts translate to gestural interfaces like the iPhone and iPad? How do they improve or impair accessibility?

I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. says

    Keyboard shortcuts are an interesting one. One of the reasons WCAG 2.0 accessibility advise against adding access keys to websites (having previously promoted their use) is that inconsistencies across sites, combined with potential conflicts with user agent and user defined keyboard shortcuts, means that they often do more harm than good.
    But with web apps, as opposed to websites, a unified set of recognised keyboard shortcuts would undoubtedly be a good thing if approached properly…. but coming up with agreed and universally applied conventions for anything on the web doesn’t seem historically that easy to achieve!

  2. says

    The big challenge here is desktop app vs web app.

    Since Twitter is on the Web, it’s in the context of an application, the browser, which itself has shortcut keys. Tweetie probably attempts to keep it’s shortcuts similar to other desktop apps for the Mac.

    I don’t know what’s better; follow what people do in the context of the app, or follow conventions of your platform, no matter in which context it lives?

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