For those of you who dont follow me on Twitter, last night I was introduced to a new Twitter client called TweetDeck (Thanks TheWebPixie!). Not being a huge fan of desktop Twitter applications, I was a bit skeptical. While I do use Twirl every once in a while, generally speaking I have always prefered the web interface combined with an auto-refresh plugin for firefox. Starting today, that has all changed.
TweetDeck is a database driven Twitter client built on the Adobe Air platform. It is built to allow you to better manage your experience. You can now create topic or group specific columns to more easily follow all the great things happening on Twitter. You start out with a column for all your tweets, one for all your replies and another for all the direct messages you have recieved in the past 48 hours, but you can add many more columns! With the program being built on a local database, it also allows for better offline capabilities. The database is also searchable! You can search for words or phrases that have shown up in you twitter stream in the past 48 hours instantly! Not only does it search locally, but you can set it to search Summize as well! Before there is any confusion, the default is 48 hours which is the maximum, but you can certainly go to far less than that if you choose. When you create new groups or columns, it is populated with what is already in the database rather than having to wait for it to fill up with new tweets. While the database aspect of this alone is enough to make it the next killer Twitter application, there is much more that makes this program a must for any hardcore Twitter user.
The support for easy and quick replies and direct messages is there like every good Twitter client should have, but where it really stands out in basic functionality is a button for retweeting. Now, you can retweet with a single button! Gone are the days of using copy and paste to retweet one of the people you follow. TweetDeck also has a built in URL shortener which uses any of five different URL shortening services. It also has several resizing buttons to further customize your display. The ability to move columns around is nice as well. It also detects the number of allowed API updates and sets itself to refresh at the allowed rate, which is also nice.
That said, there are a couple of things that aren’t so great about this application. To start the list, the self adjusting refresh rate that I just mentioned is just as much a flaw as it is a great feature. Since you are unable to adjust the refresh rate yourself, if you wanted to run the application or multiple twitter applications on different computers or at different locations, you will find it very difficult as TweetDeck is already using your max number of API requests. Next, by clicking the replies and direct messages buttons more than once, you will end up with multiple columns filled with the same thing, which is just plain useless. Also, rather than columns being created when you need them, they remain there at all times but in a blank state until used. It doesn’t make sense being able to scroll to a bunch of blank columns. Those are some of my primary gripes with the software, but there are a number of features that other Twitter applications have that TweetDeck lacks.
Although I hear it is in the works, there are no pop-up notifications at this time. According to their voting feedback system, this is by far the most requested feature. You are also unable to minimize it to they system tray. This is a feature I greatly value as I value my taskbar space which usually has at least a half dozen things open on it at all times. At this time, there is no support for Twitpic, but I hear that is in the works as well. I would also like to see drag and drop functionality for adding to groups, an idea the creator seems to really like as well. Showing new messages as soon as they are sent is missing but has been added to the list of things to implement. There is also no way to favorite tweets at this time, but again it is in the works.
While this is without a doubt the most useful Twitter application I have come across so far, it does have some drawbacks and a number of missing features although that is to be expected in a version numberd 0.152b (beta). Once some of the more requested and common functionality such as notifications gets implimented, this will, without a doubt, be the best Twitter application out there. The grouping and database idea behind the project would do wonders for services such as FriendFeed. If you want to keep up with the latest TweetDeck developments, check out their blog.