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README.md

Phanpy

Minimalistic opinionated Mastodon web client.

Fancy screenshot

🗣️ Pronunciation: /fænpi/ (FAN-pee) 🔊 Listen

This is an alternative web client for Mastodon.

  • 🏢 Production: https://phanpy.social
    • production branch
    • break less often
    • slower fixes unless critical
  • 🏗️ Development: https://dev.phanpy.social
    • main branch
    • may see new cool stuff sooner
    • may break more often
    • may be fixed much faster too

🐘 Follow @phanpy on Mastodon for updates

Everything is designed and engineered following my taste and vision. This is a personal side project for me to learn about Mastodon and experiment with new UI/UX ideas.

Features

  • 👪 Multiple accounts
  • 🪟 Compose window pop-out/in
  • 🌗 Light/dark/auto theme
  • 🔔 Grouped notifications
  • 🪺 Nested comments thread
  • 📬 Unsent draft recovery
  • 🎠 Boosts Carousel™️
  • Shortcuts™️ with view modes like multi-column or tab bar
  • #️⃣ Multi-hashtag timeline

Design decisions

  • Status actions (reply, boost, favourite, bookmark, etc) are hidden by default.
    They only appear in individual status page. This is to reduce clutter and distraction. It may result in lower engagement, but we're not chasing numbers here.
  • Boost is represented with the rocket icon.
    The green double arrow icon (retweet for Twitter) doesn't look right for the term "boost". Green rocket looks weird, so I use purple.
  • Short usernames (@username) are displayed in timelines, instead of the full account username (@username@instance).
    Despite the guideline mentioned that "Decentralization must be transparent to the user", I don't think we should shove it to the face every single time. There are also some screen-reader-related accessibility concerns with the full username, though this web app is unfortunately not accessible yet.
  • No autoplay for video/GIF/whatever in timeline.
    The timeline is already a huge mess with lots of people, brands, news and media trying to grab your attention. Let's not make it worse. (Current exception now would be animated emojis.)
  • Hash-based URLs.
    This web app is not meant to be a full-fledged replacement to Mastodon's existing front-end. There's no SEO, database, serverless or any long-running servers. I could be wrong one day.

Subtle UI implementations

User name display

User name display

  • On the timeline, the user name is displayed as [NAME] @[username].
  • For the @[username], always exclude the instance domain name.
  • If the [NAME] looks the same as the @[username], then the @[username] is excluded as well.

Boosts Carousel

  • From the fetched posts (e.g. 20 posts per fetch), if number of boosts are more than quarter of total posts or more than 3 consecutive boosts, boosts carousel UI will be triggered.
  • If number of boosts are more than 3 quarters of total posts, boosts carousel UI will be slotted at the end of total posts fetched (per "page").
  • Else, boosts carousel UI will be slotted in between the posts.

Thread number badge (e.g. Thread 1/X)

Thread number badge

  • Check every post for inReplyToId from cache or additional API requests, until the root post is found.
  • If root post is found, badge will show the index number of the post in the thread.
  • Limit up to 3 API requests as the root post may be very old or the thread is super long.
  • If index number couldn't be found, badge will fallback to showing Thread without the number.

Hashtag stuffing collapsing

Hashtag stuffing collapsing

  • First paragraph of post content with more than 3 hashtags will be collapsed to max 3 lines.
  • Subsequent paragraphs after first paragraph with more than 3 hashtags will be collapsed to 1 line.
  • Adjacent paragraphs with more than 1 hashtag after collapsed paragraphs will be collapsed to 1 line.
  • If there are text around or between the hashtags, they will not be collapsed.
  • Collapsed hashtags will be appended with ... at the end.
  • They are also slightly faded out to reduce visual noise.
  • Opening the post view will reveal the hashtags uncollapsed.

Filtered posts

  • "Hide completely"-filtered posts will be hidden, with no UI to reveal it.
  • "Hide with a warning"-filtered posts will be partially hidden, showing the filter name and author name.
    • Content can be partially revealed by hovering over the post, with tooltip showing the post text.
    • Clicking it will open the Post page.
    • Long-pressing or right-clicking it will "peek" the post with a bottom sheet UI.
    • On boosts carousel, they are sorted to the end of the carousel.

Development

Prerequisites: Node.js 18+

  • npm install - Install dependencies
  • npm run dev - Start development server
  • npm run build - Build for production
  • npm run preview - Preview the production build
  • npm run fetch-instances - Fetch instances list from joinmastodon.org/servers, save it to src/data/instances.json
  • npm run sourcemap - Run source-map-explorer on the production build

Tech stack

Some of these may change in the future. The front-end world is ever-changing.

Self-hosting

This is a pure static web app. You can host it anywhere you want.

Two ways (choose one):

Easy way

Go to Releases and download the latest phanpy-dist.zip or phanpy-dist.tar.gz. It's pre-built so don't need to run any install/build commands. Extract it. Serve the folder of extracted files.

Custom-build way

Requires Node.js.

Download or git clone this repository. Use production branch for stable releases, main for latest. Build it by running npm run build (after npm install). Serve the dist folder.

Customization can be done by passing environment variables to the build command. Examples:

PHANPY_APP_TITLE="Phanpy Dev" \
    PHANPY_WEBSITE="https://dev.phanpy.social" \
    npm run build
PHANPY_DEFAULT_INSTANCE=hachyderm.io \
    PHANPY_DEFAULT_INSTANCE_REGISTRATION_URL=https://hachyderm.io/auth/sign_up \
    PHANPY_PRIVACY_POLICY_URL=https://hachyderm.io/privacy-policy \
    npm run build

It's also possible to set them in the .env file.

Available variables:

  • PHANPY_CLIENT_NAME (optional, default: Phanpy) affects:
    • Web page title, shown in the browser window or tab title
    • App title, when installed as PWA, shown in the Home screen, macOS dock, Windows taskbar, etc
    • OpenGraph card title, when shared on social networks
    • Client name, when registering the app for authentication and shown as client used on posts in some apps/clients
  • PHANPY_WEBSITE (optional but recommended, default: https://phanpy.social) affects:
    • Canonical URL of the website
    • OpenGraph card URL, when shared on social networks
    • Root path for the OpenGraph card image
    • Client URL, when registering the app for authentication and shown as client used on posts in some apps/clients
  • PHANPY_DEFAULT_INSTANCE (optional, no defaults):
    • e.g. 'mastodon.social', without https://
    • Default instance for log-in
    • When logging in, the user will be redirected instantly to the instance's authentication page instead of having to manually type the instance URL and submit
  • PHANPY_DEFAULT_INSTANCE_REGISTRATION_URL (optional, no defaults):
    • URL of the instance registration page
    • E.g. https://mastodon.social/auth/sign_up
  • PHANPY_PRIVACY_POLICY_URL (optional, default to official instance's privacy policy):
    • URL of the privacy policy page
    • May specify the instance's own privacy policy
  • PHANPY_LINGVA_INSTANCES (optional, space-separated list, default: lingva.phanpy.social [...hard-coded list of fallback instances]):
    • Specify a space-separated list of instances. First will be used as default before falling back to the subsequent instances. If there's only 1 instance, means no fallback.
    • May specify a self-hosted Lingva instance, powered by either lingva-translate or lingva-api
    • List of fallback instances hard-coded in /.env
    • ↗️ List of lingva-translate instances

Static site hosting

Try online search for "how to self-host static sites" as there are many ways to do it.

Lingva-translate or lingva-api hosting

See documentation for lingva-translate or lingva-api.

Community deployments

These are self-hosted by other wonderful folks.

Note: Add yours by creating a pull request.

Costs

Costs involved in running and developing this web app:

  • Domain name (.social): USD$23.18/year (USD$6.87 1st year)
  • Hosting: Free
  • Development, design, maintenance: "Free" (My precious time)

Mascot

Phanpy is a Ground-type Pokémon.

Maintainers + contributors

Contributors

Backstory

I am one of the earliest users of Twitter. Twitter was launched on 15 July 2006. I joined on December 2006 and my first tweet was posted on 18 December 2006.

I know how early Twitter looks like. It was fun.

Back then, I made a Twitter clone called "Twig" written in Python and Google App Engine. I almost made my own Twitter desktop client written in Appcelerator Titanium. I gave one of my best talks about the Twitter client in a mini-conference. I built this thing called "Twitter Columns", a web app that shows your list of followings, your followings' followings, your followers, your followers' followers and so on. In 2009, I wrote a blog post titled "How I got started with Twitter". I created two themes for DestroyTwitter (a desktop client made with Adobe Air by Jonnie Hallman) and one of them is called "Vimeo". In 2013, I wrote my own tweets backup site with a front-end to view my tweets and a CouchDB backend to store them.

It's been more than 15 years.

And here I am. Building a Mastodon web client.

Alternative web clients

💁‍♂️ Notice to all other social media client developers

Please, please copy the UI ideas and experiments from this app. I think some of them are pretty good and it would be great if more apps have them.

If you're not a developer, please tell your favourite social media client developers about this app and ask them to copy the UI ideas and experiments.

License

MIT.