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New TweetDeck – first impressions

by Kevin Gilmartin

Twitter bought the popular client, TweetDeck, back in May this year, paying the app’s British owner/developer a cool £25 million.

Many were sceptical of the move at the time and saw Twitter’s acquisition of TweetDeck as the first in a series blows dealt to 3rd party client developers. Twitter has invested a lot of time and money into the web interface over the last couple of years, and would prefer everyone to use this instead of clients like TweetDeck. At the time of purchase, TweetDeck was the 2nd most popular method of tweeting, after twitter.com.

So a new version of TweetDeck was released this week to coincide with Twitter.com’s makeover. It’s the first major redesign of TweetDeck since Twitter took over – and I’m sorry to have to report, dear reader, that it is nothing short of awful.

The first thing that I don’t like is that they’ve changed the branding, making it blue, to bring it in to line with the corporate style. I guess you can’t blame them for that, but after installation I was looking for the familiar yellow and black icon, and it took a few moments for me to find the shortcut.

When I did open up the client, it looked chunkier, almost cartoony, and the columns seemed bigger. Not a good start.

Branding and appearance aside, the functionality has changed drastically.

The familiar text input box at the top has gone, replaced with a blue button that you click to type a tweet. When you do click it, a box appears in the middle of the screen for you to type in to. This stops you from interacting with any other tweets while it’s open, and if for any reason you close the box midway through typing a tweet – you lose what you’ve been typing! But, the most infuriating thing is that hitting return no longer sends the tweet – it makes a carriage return. You have to click “Tweet” or use Ctrl+Return to send the tweet.

To the columns themselves, and the most dramatic changes yet. One thing I found very confusing was the default “Inbox” column. My TweetDeck is used to manage 5 accounts across work-related and personal streams. The inbox was showing me DM’s for every account in TweetDeck! No. Bad TweetDeck! Do that again and I’ll rub your nose in it then bop you with a rolled up newspaper!

I solved the Inbox issue by removing the column and adding a new one for just the accounts whose DM’s I monitor. Easy enough, but still a pain.

Now, remember in ‘old’ TweetDeck how the options related to each tweet were cleverly sited in the profile pic of the tweeter, and clicking their username revealed their profile info? No more. They appear in the top right of the tweet, and clicking on the profile pic of a user loads their profile information. Old TweetDeck gave you the option of loading other users’ profile information in a new column, or externally in Twitter.com. This new version loads it in another one of those annoying mid-screen popups. Seriously, Twitter, stop that! Nobody likes that.

Also, clicking on an individual tweet no longer highlights it in the column – it enlarges it and replaces the entire column! Why, Twitter? What use is that?

Within the tweets themselves, old TweetDeck would display any images linked through a service like yFrog or Instagram in a little pop-up within the client itself. New TweetDeck? Kicks you straight out to your browser.

These are all issues that I discovered in my first hour or so of use, and I’m sure I’ll come across more. I might find something that new TweetDeck does better – but I doubt it.

Three years ago Iain Dodsworth gave us a wonderful, simple streamlined tool for Twitter power users. We loved it because it functioned differently to native web interface in a way that we preferred. Twitter have taken that tool, ripped it apart, and made it more like the web interface we were trying to avoid in the first place.

I still love Twitter, but I’m seriously considering ditching TweetDeck now.

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