Tweetie for Mac- Excitement followed by disappointment

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 | Opinion

Yesterday Tweetie for Mac was released. I have heard that Tweetie for the iPhone was awesome (haven’t tried it yet because there is no free version), I was excited about a new app from a developer who already had an awesome app. I downloaded it and was very disappointed at the interface.

For starters, there is no Growl support. I rely on this to see new tweets, so I don’t have to catch up later. I hear this is in the works, however it is still disappointed without it included in this version.

My biggest grip with the UI however, is the separate tweet window. This complete ruins the Twittering experience for me. Whereas Twitteriffic (and most other Twitter clients) have the field at the bottom, Tweetie opens up a new window for each tweet. I have to change focus from one area to a completely random area each time- instead of one single location. I emailed the developer Loren Brichter about my issues, and he replied the following email. He gave me permission to repost it, and while my response to him was not the following, it was very similar:

My sincerest apologies for your disappointment at that comment.  There
were a *ton* of reasons why I went went the new-window compose route.
A few (if you’ll hear me out):

- You can compose a few at a time if you want to take time to compose
your thoughts

Which is nice, but nothing I’ll ever use. I see a Twitter, and reply. I’ll have a thought, post it on Twitter, and be done. I don’t need to draft 140 characters.

- The vast majority of the time for the vast majority of users is
spent *reading* tweets, not writing them. an appropriate amount of
screen real estate was given to composing on the main window given
this common-use-breakdown.

There is not much real estate being taken up by a text field at the bottom of the main window. And while most people do read more than write, that still doesn’t mean its a good UI choice to remove the easy-to-use- bottom field.

- I wanted the app to *feel* less like a toy, and more like a
communications tool.  I wanted it to *feel* more like Mail than iChat.
I wanted (though my choices in UI) to subtly encourage users to THINK
before they posted (and I believe people have a tendency to put more
thought into an email than they do IMs).  The weight of an independent
compose window provides this importance.  It’s the same reason why I
chose not to have ENTER post a tweet, Command-ENTER is the shortcut to
post, and I think that extra modifier does its small part to make
users think before they tweet.

This is where Loren and I have our biggest disagreement, and since its a philosophical difference about Twitter, its huge. I feel Twitter is MORE like an IM than mail. Its 140 characters, about the same as an IM anyway. I don’t see the need to FORCE users to think before they tweet, so posting with COMMAND-ENTER (instead of the logical and better ENTER) is very frustrating. I don’t think it would help anyway, and it takes away from standard Mac UI and posting conventions that ENTER sends something.

- It’s a fantastic *general* solution, for example it works great with
the global keyboard shortcut (in the prefs) where you can bring up a
compose window from anywhere in the system.  It also works perfectly
for the url bookmarklet.  No special casing needed.

This is in fact awesome, and I really would like this feature in more Twitter apps

- If you think about when you write a tweet, your fingers *have* to be
on the keyboard anyway, so it’s a negligible amount of work to hit
Command-N.

Not until I’m actually ready to write a tweet though. I’m already scrolling with the mouse, in the general area of the tweet window. For Twitteriffic, I either click in the field or click on the reply button next to a tweet, then start typing. For Tweetie, I have to hit a command for a new tweet, or click a tweet then hit the command, then find where the reply window went, and start typing. Its a small and subtle difference, but it changes the Twitter experience drastically.

I completely understand that it may not be for you, but it’s really
important to me that you understand that the decision wasn’t
arbitrary.  If it makes you feel any better, I had weeks of sleepless
nights thinking about this.  The only reason I thought *not* to do it
was because people were just used to some other way – and that wasn’t
a good enough reason to switch to an (in my mind) inferior UI.

I certainly understand his reasons. But my retort is that the separate window is NOT mutually exclusive to the in-app field. They BOTH can be used, and I think the app would be much better for it.

Its a shame this one issue has to ruin what otherwise is a great app. It has a lot of features I would use- like viewing direct replies, and global app tweeting ability. In fact, I would certainly pay for the ad-free version if he added the in-app field. Unfortunately, it looks like he will not change his mind.

Which leads me to think maybe I should develop my own Twitter app…

1 Comment to Tweetie for Mac- Excitement followed by disappointment

[...] Next up is the new Twitter for Mac app. Its not surprising its ugly, and its UI leaves much to be desired- its descended from Tweetie for Mac. That was one of the worst Twitter applications. It took a couple of versions to support Growl, and to send a tweet it was Shift-Enter which was incredible frustrating and stupid. See this post for more on that. [...]