Skip to content


First impressions of Twitter’s redesign of Tweetdeck

By my reckoning, Tweetdeck has been the most popular desktop Twitter client for some time. It has been my tool of choice for my Twitter interactions for nearly three years now. If we compare Twitter to tea, Tweetdeck would be my big old favourite mug. I can drink tea from other vessels from time to time, but it’s never quite the same. Tweetdeck makes it possible to operate multiple accounts and make sense of the constant stream of information flying past.

Tweetdeck log animationEarlier this year, Twitter acquired Tweetdeck and about a week ago they launched a complete redesign of the Tweetdeck desktop application, abandoning the Adobe AIR platform in favour of HTML5. So my favourite mug has been replaced with something which looks similar but feels subtly different in the hand. These are my initial observations of Tweetdeck 1.0. (The Adobe AIR Tweetdeck had versions numbered 0.x.)

Absent features

Most disconcerting for long-standing Tweetdeck users is that many features are just not present in the new application.

  1. No translate option
    The language barriers are up again. The incredibly useful translation facility is nowhere to be found.
  2. No filter option on columns
    With so much information flowing through each column, we need a way to quickly find or hide stuff. Now it’s needle and haystack time again.
  3. No integrated list management
    One of Tweetdeck’s former strengths was the ease of list management. I’d be lost without a couple of list columns which help focus on the tweets that are most important to me. The make-up of those lists are changing on a daily basis – Tweetdeck 1.0 gives me no integrated means of managing my lists. I have to resort to web twitter, which often is not convenient in the multi-account scenario.
  4. No support for LinkedIn, Myspace, Foursquare, Buzz accounts
    To be honest, this makes no odds to me. I have long since given up trying to aggregate multiple social media accounts in Tweetdeck. It is interesting to note that attempts to integrate all those different additional types of social media have been abandoned, with just Facebook remaining.
  5. Cannot view full-size profile pics
    I quite liked being able to click on a profile pic and see it full-size. That facility appears to have gone.
  6. No quick-profile
    Sometimes you just want to look at a Twitter profile. The quick-profile feature is absent. Update: I’ve spotted a partial workaround:
    • Click on any profile.
    • Then click on Tweets to view their tweets.
    • You can search for a twitter user – it returns the four closest matches and you can view their tweets.

    Not exactly a quick-profile as you only get to see Tweets rather than the full profile stats, but it fills a bit of the functionality hole. Wait a minute, a better workaround is just to search for the username you want in the search box top right on the main screen. With any luck the profile will be mentioned in the search results and you can click on it to get a look at the profile. It’s almost quick.

  7. Replies don’t include hashtags from original tweet
    More often than not when you reply to a tweet with a hashtag, you want to keep the hashtag in your tweet. There was an option for this in the previous Tweetdeck, but we’re left to our own typing with the revamped version.
  8. No all-replies option for timelines
    Tweetdeck relatively recently brought back the ability to view all the tweets from those you follow, including any replies they make to people you don’t follow. This was originally a user setting on Twitter itself but was controversially removed for technical reasons in May 2009 (#fixreplies). I quite enjoyed having this option available again as it provides a valuable method of discovering new interesting people to follow.
  9. No option for follower numbers under avatar
    I switched this option on before. It’s a personal preference I found useful in some circumstances (e.g. spotting spambots), but it’s not available in Tweetdeck 1.0.
  10. No right-click functionality
    I realise that this app has been released for both Windows and Mac OS X. My observations are based solely on the Windows version. There is no right-click menu e.g. copy and paste
  11. No cloud feature on columns
    I can understand why. This feature was never implemented properly in my view. The word clouds were always dominated by usernames which made them pretty pointless. This could be a useful feature if implemented sensibly.
  12. No info about API rates
    Twitter uses “API rate-limiting” to share out the resources of the service fairly among users. Tweetdeck was always very up-front about showing you the number of API calls you had left on each account and when your allocation would be reset. This information is no longer shown. Maybe Tweetdeck is to be allowed to circumvent the rate-limiting system just like web-twitter?
  13. No “safety net” for shortened links
    In Tweetdeck 0.x, when you click on a bit.ly link for example, you are prompted with some information about the link which may help to avoid getting hacked. There is no such option in Tweetdeck 1.0.
  14. No indication that a profile is protected
    The little padlock usually used to indicate a protected Twitter profile is not displayed. The verified icon is displayed when appropriate.
  15. No warning when attempting to retweet a protected tweet
    You cannot retweet a protected user’s tweet as a “native” retweet, you can only perform a quoted retweet. Tweetdeck 0.x handles this situation very gracefully flagging up the potential privacy issue. On Tweetdeck 1.0 you have no idea who is protected and both retweet options are available. A native retweet of a protected user’s tweet will not appear, but you’ll only discover that if you go looking for it.

Tweetdeck 0.x (above) and 1.0 (below)

Annoyances

  1. Less columns per screen
    Your mileage may vary on this one, but for my 1280×800 screen the old Tweetdeck managed 4 columns per screen, but Tweetdeck 1.0 has changed the column width slightly so that only 3 columns are now displayed.
  2. Block & report are two separate operations
    I liked the one-click solution for spambots. You can no longer block and report in one easy operation.
  3. Can’t manage followers in a column
    Previously you could dedicate a column for the followers of a given account if you so wished. I found this pretty essential for keeping a look-out for interesting new followers. In Tweetdeck 1.0 you have no follower-management facilities and are redirected to web-twitter, which may not be appropriate in a multi-account environment.
  4. All links in your timeline now go to browser
    Tweetdeck users have become accustomed to integrated support for image and video services, so the frequent redirection to a browser may cause some irritation. However you soon discover there is inline support for pic.twitter, twitpic, yfrog, instagr.am and lockerz images, which are shown inline when you click on a tweet to examine it more closely. YouTube and flickr are not yet supported in this fashion.
  5. List of tweets on a profile is a cul-de-sac
    You don’t get full functional access to a tweet listed from a profile. For instance I would expect to be able to retweet from a list of tweets. I find this very limiting and redirecting to web-twitter hits the usual multi-account issues.
  6. Not clear from profile whether a user follows any of your accounts
    This was already a failing in Tweetdeck 0.x, but it made an attempt to display if the user in the profile was a follower of your main account.
  7. Quoted RTs are presented in quotation marks rather than the more prevalent RT syntax
    It is a relief to see that quoted RTs are still permitted, but I think some control over the RT syntax should be an option. I really don’t like the quotation mark style used in Tweetdeck 1.0.
  8. Sender/recipient on DMs is somewhat uncertain/non-intuitive
    The way your DMs are listed has been changed. Rather than the chronological list, we now have a list of users, which probably makes more sense, but a DM count for each user listed would be helpful.

Positives

It’s not looking good for Tweetdeck 1.0 with all those absent features and annoyances. Did I find anything positive to encourage me to make the move?

  1. Not as resource-hungry
    I was beginning to despair with the Air-based Tweetdeck. When you have a lot of columns on the go, it tends to monopolise your PC’s memory and CPU resources. This was becoming a show-stopper for me. I’m delighted to discover that Tweetdeck 1.0 is much more resource-friendly.
  2. Scales better with many columns
    You can easily push your column total into double-figures and see no great resource-hogging. This was not the case for me with Tweetdeck 0.x.
  3. You can look at @mentions on any user profile
    This is a feature I like to use on the common mobile Twitter apps, but has been absent to date on Tweetdeck 0.x.
  4. Notifications are on a column-by-column basis
    Previously you managed your notifications all together on the Settings screen, which is a place you don’t want to go too often. On Tweetdeck 1.0, you manage notifications on the column itself, which is much neater.
  5. Nice to see all subsequent replies when viewing a tweet
    I like how any tweets posted In Reply To the tweet you examine with a click appear automatically. To see any previous tweets in the conversation you have to click “In Reply To”.
  6. Link-shortening can use t.co seamlessly
    You really don’t have to worry about managing link-shortening manually any more. This is a very welcome advance.
  7. Much quicker at startup
    With three or four accounts and maybe a dozen columns to load, getting Tweetdeck 0.x started could be a bit of an ordeal. The new application is much quicker to load.
  8. @me column aggregates across multiple accounts
    I’m not sure I’m totally comfortable with this. The same is not the case, as far as I can tell, for the Home and Inbox columns, which focus on the default account with Facebook posts thrown in just to confuse things.
  9. More retweet info when viewing a tweet
    You now get fuller disclosure about how many retweets a tweet has received when you examine it closely with a click.
  10. Autocomplete on usernames
    You grow to appreciate this feature quite quickly. AutoComplete is an option in Tweetdeck 0.x – I never noticed its existence.
  11. Scheduled tweet feature
    You can schedule a time for a tweet or DM to be posted, a feature that was available in Hootsuite, but not to my knowledge in Tweetdeck before.Again, I stand corrected on this one. Scheduled tweets have been in Tweetdeck 0.x for some time.
  12. Photo-uploading
    You can upload photos from your PC as you compose a tweet. Photo and video uploading is actually already available in Tweetdeck 0.x. I am more short-sighted than I realised.
  13. Animated avatars work
    This could quite easily be listed among the annoyances. Either way, it’s noticeably different.

Bugs

With any application version 1.0, you expect a fair number of bugs. Only a few have come to my attention.

  1. Prone to missing @mentions
    Returning to the “mug of tea metaphor”, there isn’t much point in continuing to use a cracked mug with tea leaking out the bottom. I was very concerned to discover that Tweetdeck 1.0 is prone to missing @mentions that are visible in other clients including Tweetdeck 0.x. There may be tweets missing in other columns, but it’s the missing @mentions that stick out like a sore thumb. Definitely a SHOW-STOPPER in my opinion, as not being sure of seeing all your @mentions is unacceptable in a Twitter client.
  2. In reply to and subsequent replies not showing consistently
    This may be an API issue, but it appears to be impossible to examine tweeted conversations involving protected users among your followees. It is fair to say that Tweetdeck 0.x presented some inconsistent behaviour in this regard, but not to the extent of this bug. Another SHOW-STOPPER in my opinion.
  3. “Retweeted by” shows full name when @username selected in settings
    Choosing between full names and usernames is one of the two General Settings available, but it is not honoured on Retweets, where full names are shown.
  4. Facebook posts often incomplete
    I tried out the Facebook integration and found there were times that Facebook posts made no sense because elements were omitted. Also some are presented as links which don’t do anything or redirect anywhere. Again I remember this sort of behaviour from Tweetdeck 0.x with its Facebook column. I won’t be interacting with Facebook in Tweetdeck so it’s not a major concern for me.

Shrinking support

Despite all the negatives, I’m minded to give this new Tweetdeck some cautious benefit of the doubt in the hope that the missing or poorly implemented functionality will be addressed in future releases. The resource-hogging nature of Tweetdect 0.x was reaching critical proportions for me. What scares me most, however, about the future of Tweetdeck is the apparent lack of any support channel. There is no help or support menu on the application itself and if you visit Tweetdeck.com, a search for the word Support currently finds nothing.

Within the last year, Twitter abandoned its traditional ticket-based support system and now invites users to tweet their support requests. Tweetdeck support used to be very responsive and had a vibrant forum for reporting, discovering and resolving current known issues, but since the acquisition by Twitter, the community-based approach has disappeared. I tweeted @support, @tweetdeck and @richardbarley for some clarification on the support channel(s) for Tweetdeck, but received no responses.

Update: previous Tweetdeck support pages now redirect to Twitter’s Getting Started With Tweetdeck support page, which advises users to follow @Tweetdeck and send any support request via DM. Tweetdeck users are invited to tweet their impressions and suggestions to @feedback, which is for general Twitter feedback so make sure you clearly identify Tweetdeck and your particular flavour in the tweet. I DMed @tweetdeck to enquire whether they publish a list of current known issues and they replied:

No known issues list, but we’re taking everyone’s feedback and using it to help prioritize what comes next. Thanks!

So there you have it – if you’re unhappy with the new Tweetdeck, get your main gripes off your chest by tweeting @feedback about them.

Conclusion

Tweetdeck 1.0 has too many missing features, bugs and annoyances to be a working replacement for Tweetdeck 0.x just yet. It does address the major CPU-hogging failing of its predecessor, so it has potential to keep its users on-board. Twitter needs Tweetdeck as its multiple-account offering and will develop it accordingly. I get the feeling that its future will primarily be shaped by Twitter’s requirements rather than what the users require. Ultimately users will vote with (the source of) their tweets and I hope Twitter realises that its users are no mugs.

What did I miss?

Please post any other absent features, annoyances, bugs and the positives which I have not spotted in the comments below. Thanks for reading all the way to the end.

Update: does v1.1 fix anything?

In the bleak mid-winter 2011, Tweetdeck released v1.1. They no longer publish a ChangeLog it seems, so we’re left to our own deduction to figure out which, if any, of the missing features, annoyances and bugs have been addressed. Hardly any is the short answer.

  1. A major new annoyance confronts the user upon attempted installation of Tweetdeck 1.1. It cannot proceed until you have removed the “previous version”. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES remove Tweetdeck 0.x – it just needs v1.0 removed via the Control Panel. Don’t bother – it’s not worth it. We can only hope they improve this upgrade path in v1.2.
  2. The username vs fullname option has been removed from the general options and both are now displayed above tweets in the timeline, although the full name is given more typographical prominence and the username is used with in reply to and retweeted by. (Bug #3)
  3. Trying to retweet a protected tweet now generates a non-specific error, which is better than doing nothing. (Absent feature #15)
  4. It is now impossible to view the in reply to tweet in any conversation (regardless of protected status). This is a new major show-stopper bug replacing bug #2.
  5. No signs of the missing mentions issue – I’m not sure I can leave this broken client running for long enough to be sure. (Bug #1)

All the other failings remain unresolved.

Posted in News.

Tagged with , , , .