Easily Create your own Custom Web App in Chrome for Twitter or Anything


Twitter-app
Google’s excellent Chrome Web Browser lets you install “Web Apps” available from the Chrome Web Store. These are a cross between a bookmark/favorite and IE9’s Pinned Sites feature. Good web apps take advantage of HTML 5 features, like offline storage, and can run in the background. However, a lot of the so-called “apps” in the webstore are just links to websites. The advantage of having them as Apps are that you have the option for them to open in various ways (see the screenshot)
One of my twitter buddies was wondering why there was no twitter app in the webstore.

I replied saying that Tweetdeck (now owned by Twitter) is a great Chrome app, one of the top ones on the store but James likes the simplicity of the Twitter site itself (and his custom background!).
I found it a bit bizarre that no-one has created one but after trying to make my own I found out why. The Chrome Web Store only lets you publish an app linking to a URL if you are the owner of that site! So only someone working at Twitter would be able to publish this. 

Do it Yourself

Luckily you can create your own apps very easily following this simple guide on Lifehacker, Add Custom Webapps to Chrome’s New Tab Page

All you need to do is create a text file and have a 128×128 PNG image that you want to use for the app on the “New Tab” page. I get mine from IconFinder.net. This is a great site for free icons that you can filter by size, colour etc but most icons are also available as PNG files too. You then need to open the text file as an unloaded extension to check it works and once that is done you can pack it up as a genuine Chrome file (.CRX).

Here are a few that I made in a matter of minutes. Click the images to download* the app as a .CRX file. They won’t install automatically. You will need to right-click the CRX file and choose Google Chrome from the Open With… menu.

Twitter

Image from YooTheme at IconFinder

Thom’s HeadSpace (this blog)

Wellingborough & District Athletics Club (my local running club)

I could technically publish this officially as I own the site but I would need to fork out a whole $5 for a Google Developer account!

*You download and install these apps at your own risk. I cannot take responsibility for any problems that occur.

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One thought on “Easily Create your own Custom Web App in Chrome for Twitter or Anything

  1. Hi, there!

    Thanks for the article.

    Based on this tip, I’ve made this: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/jjbgmephbaokifbddonfopchaplakmoh

    It’s nice to have the extension installed via Chrome Web Store because then Chrome is able to sync it with other instances of the browser in other computers you have 🙂

    I also made on for Pocket:
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/lcmciaofeeiemddlfnfmgplbhcnmaabb

    Both are scratching your own itch, of course.

    I worked around the rule of Chrome Web Store that only lets an extension link to a site you own by making an app that only redirects to the site I want. You can see the URL flashing in the browser when you launch Twitter using my extension. But that’s ok 🙂

    You can have a look at the source code for all of this here:
    https://github.com/leafac/redirector

    Thanks, again.

    Bye.

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