Monday, March 26, 2012

Hey, Twitter! Where's my hyphen gone?

So, I noticed this morning that the Twitter web client eats the hyphen in my name. Here's a picture of my Twitter settings:

There I've got a hyphen.

Here's what happens when I load my Twitter timeline; the hyphen is present and then about 1 second later it disappears:

Oddly this only happens in Safari and not in Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. The same thing happens with another hyphenated Twitter user. Here's how Duncan Graham-Rowe appears in a Google search:

And then I click through and his hyphen is lost:

A little bit of testing showed that it's not just in the name. The - gets eaten in the Bio field as well.

When the Twitter client first starts it requests at HTML page (with the URL #!) and it contains my name with its hyphen:
But something changes it (and, as it turns out, all the other names that appear in my timeline) so the hyphen has been eaten:

A further quick test showed that the following characters are all accepted as part of my name, but magically disappear when displayed (in the manner shown above): - ( ) * , . +.

And here's where the finger points away from Twitter and over to Apple: everything's fine on Version 5.1.2 (7534.52.7), but that list of characters is gone on Version 5.1.4 (7534.54.16), a release that included lots of Javascript optimization.

Hey, Apple. Where's my hyphen?

PS I'd be tempted to debug this but (a) figuring out which bit of Javascript changed a DOM element isn't trivial and (b) Twitter's templating system written in Javascript isn't exactly the most debuggable or followable piece of code I've seen.


If you enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy my travel book for people interested in science and technology: The Geek Atlas. Signed copies of The Geek Atlas are available.


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