May 20, 2009
I have, since I really started using Twitter, used Twitteriffic. It was the first twitter "client" I used, and has a UI I like: damned near invisible.
However, since I now have to deal with multiple accounts...I had a conundrum: Make multiple copies of Twitteriffic, one per account, or try another client. So I figured I'd try another client. The decision was made easier by the instant disqualification of all AIR products. Their installer and installer policy is just WAY to fucking stupid and annoying for me to use anything based on that framework. Call me when I don't need a special license to mass-distribute AIR on my own network. Lame.
So with the AIR tripe out of the way, I figured I'd try Tweetie, since some folks whose opinions I respect like it a lot. I want to like Tweetie, but...well, a few years back I said this about what I saw as the underlying UI philosophies behind Vista and Mac OS X:
“Operational Philosophy” isn’t something that’s written anywhere on a whiteboard, or on an inspirational poster. Instead, it’s more of a “What does this remind me of” kind of thing. In other words, when I’m using an OS, and I want to describe how I interact with it, what’s the anthropomorphic description that best suits it?
For Mac OS X, it’s the classic English butler. The OS is designed to make the times you have to interact with it as a thing as quick and efficient as possible. It is expected that things will work correctly, and therefore sees no reason to bother you with correct operation confirmations. If you plug in a mouse, there’s not going to be any messages to tell you “That mouse you plugged in is now working”. It’s assumed you’ll see that because you’ll be able to instantly use the mouse. Plug in a USB or FireWire hard drive, and the disk showing up on your desktop is all the information you need to see that the drive has correctly mounted. It is only when things are not working right that you normally see messages from Mac OS X.
Windows is…well, Windows is very eager to tell you what’s going on. Constantly. Plug something in, and you get a message. Unplug something and you get a message. If you’re on a network that’s having problems staying up, you’ll get tons of messages telling you this. It’s rather like dealing with an overexcited Boy Scout…who has a lifetime supply of chocolate-covered espresso beans.
This applies to Twitteriffic and Tweetie on the Mac. (Note: Not talking about iPhone/iPod Touch versions at all.) Twitteriffic lacks a lot of Tweeties features, such as multiple account support, grouping by @-replies, etc. But, it has an unobtrusive UI. It lets me access features in a consistent fashion that doesn't jerk me around, it doesn't take up space, and it doesn't try to make me notice its UI.
Tweetie...sigh...Tweetie tries so hard to get you to notice it. For example, sending messages. Twitteriffic, it's pretty simple. You click in the "What are you doing?" field and type. When you're done, hit enter, and assuming Twitter is not down, bang, sent. With Tweetie, you hit cmd-N, and a window zooms out for you to type in. Depending on the size of your monitor, it can be a rather significant distance from your main timeline window. So now, to send a message, Tweetie takes up more space, hits you with a zoom effect, and you have to hit a button, or cmd-enter to send. Same thing Twitteriffic does with a single click in the same window, and the standard enter key.
(For UI fiends defending cmd-N in this case: Tweetie is not creating a new document, nor is it creating a new persistent application window. I don't know if Twitteriffic wins, but its UI model is more consistent with other chat-like apps, such as iChat. Tweetie is just taking up space with no real additional functionality.)
If I click on someone's picture in Twitteriffic, I get...well, I select their tweet if it wasn't already. If I double-click their picture, I go to their Twitter page. In Tweetie? Click on the picture and you get all their tweets. That's handy, but it means that you have to think more about where you click. Extra effort to avoid doing the wrong thing.
If I click on the @-reply grouping, the only way to get back to the main timeline is to click on the speech bubble. My natural inclination was to click on the icon for that account, but that only works when switching accounts. Why not have it be the "root" view too? True, Twitteriffic can't do either multiple accounts or grouping, but at least it's harder to get lost in the UI.
As well, it's just simpler to do some things in Twitteriffic. If I've clicked on a given tweet, I can get to their web site, (if it's listed in Twitter in one click, or their Twitter page, web site, or really, any other function for that person in 1.5 to 2 clicks. In Tweetie, to get to someone's Twitter Page, I have to click on their picture, click on the gear dropdown, then pick the "Open in Browser" option. So 2.5 to 3 clicks for the same functionality, and it's badly labeled.
Seriously. Here's a test. You want to open someone's Twitter page. Which is easier...click on a dropdown and pick "Open User's Twitter Page" or click on a dropdown and pick "Open in Browser"?
What am I opening in the browser? That person's twitter page? Their Web page? The selected tweet? Scat porn? We don't know until we pick it, but based on feedback, the first three options are all equally probable. As it turns out, "Open in Browser" only applies to their Twitter page. To open their web site, (if listed in their Twitter profile), you have to click on their picture, click on the "i" icon, then click on the web URL. so that's 3 clicks to do what I can do with 1.5 to 2 clicks in Twitteriffic.
Also, Tweetie doesn't always display all my replies, (based on the reply changes Twitter made, then made again, etc.), but Twitteriffic does. I can't say which behavior is more correct, but I can definitely say which one shows me what I need to see in one window, without having to click back and forth. The way Tweetie does it is just damned annoying.
There's a few more things, but really, it all means that I'll just run multiple instances of Twitteriffic. It's got functionality right there, and it's not trying to impress me with how clever its UI is.
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