Although I never liked Adobe AIR, TweetDeck on AIR was easily the best Twitter client for Windows. After Twitter bought TweetDeck last May, the company began the process of replacing TweetDeck on AIR with TweetDeck on HTML5.
Unfortunately, the new version of TweetDeck regressed in functionality. At first I couldn’t believe Twitter would release a product with a negative feature set – most software products taking this path quickly lose customers. Many former TweetDeck acolytes are now enraged over the HTML5 version. Consider the number hits by searching just Twitter.com for “TweetDeck” and “fail.”
Well, like many of my virtual friends, I got frustrated with the TweetDeck. So, I took a couple of days trying out the two top competitors: MetroTwit and Seesmic. This experience raised the prospect that Twitter’s TweetDeck strategy has been to be the least bad of the field, a.k.a., The Best of The Worst Strategy.
If you’re interested in MetroTwit or Seesmic, see my pro’s and con’s below. I’d like to know what you think about the state of Twitter clients, so leave some comments, too.
The best aspect of the MetroTwit client is its Metro user interface which make for a clean and very legible UI. Although the app could be more efficient with screen real estate – the bottom section for updates, searches, etc. should be collapsible – the overall feel is very good – colored fonts for URLs, hash-tags, user names; read-to line; scaled vertical scroll bar with some degree of read / unread indication; above/below line showing unread/read.
The negatives of MetroTwit, however, are substantial. The real deal-killer for me is MetroTwit’s inability to handle multiple Twitter accounts. I use at least two accounts frequently for business purposes. Other people may also miss the ability to cross post to other social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Other Pro’s & Con’s
|Config to minimize app to tray||No feed prioritization (tweets, direct messages, lists, etc.) for API limits|
|Show (or hide) time tweet was posted||No read/unread indicator on tweets|
|Show (or hide) poster’s Twitter application name||No current tweet indicator (e.g., which tweet is currently selected in column)|
|Highly configurable alert settings||No multi-device synchronization|
|Bit.ly account integration||Only supports Twitter, bit.ly and j.mp link shorteners|
|Configurable font size|
These comments are based on MetroTwit version 0.9.3.0.
My favorite aspect of Seesmic is its multi-tabbed approach for Accounts, Userlists, Searches and All. Each tab can have its own column set (although available columns are limited). I spend most of my time on the Userlists and All tabs. For example, my Userlists is configured with a subset of the lists that I want to follow closely.
Another big feature is the ability to hide tweets you’ve already seen (read). Even better is that reading a tweet in one column marks it read in all columns. I love this feature! Several of my accounts follow the same users or lists, so it’s really nice to be able to view the tweet once and not have to re-view it again later.
Although Seesmic sometimes has a current tweet indicator, it’s very confusing. Sometimes tweets are highlighted when you use the up/down arrow keys, but not always. Clicking on a tweet never seems to highlight it, but pushing down arrow will then highlight the next tweet down. I stopped trying to figure out a rhyme or reason for the functionality, so I suggest that the feature doesn’t really exist.
The thing that really caused me to stop using Seesmic was this error:
“Your Twitter session for account <account> is not longer valid. You need to login and grant permissions again.”
This error started appearing today and continued occasionally even after I stepped through the reauthorization screens. Then I began ignoring the error and skipping reauthorization. But I could still tweet and receive tweets. Weird error, weird results of addressing the error; therefore lack of confidence in OAuth implementation.
Other Pro’s & Con’s
|Feed prioritization of feeds (tweets, direct messages, lists, etc.) for API limits||Little control over what shows with tweet (time posted, poster’s application, etc.)|
|Indicator for unread tweets, column with unread tweets||No option for minimize or close to tray|
|Multi-device synchronization||Menu options are confusing, e.g., “Mark content as read” means mark all tweets in this column as read.|
|Highly configurable alert settings||No option to mark & hide all in a column|
|Good ecosystem for Plugins. Facebook; LinkedIn; Foursquare; Klout; image previewers: twitpic, yfrog; link shorteners: bit.ly, is.gd|
|Ability to disable specific plugins|
|Reasonable mechanism for configuring plugin’s settings|
|Selection of Quote formats|
|Configurable font size|
These comments are based on Seesmic Desktop 2 version 126.96.36.1997.