Twitter might be going through a rather rough time right now, a lot of developers are still banking on its success. There are already a lot of desktop clients available for Twitter, but besides some cosmetic differences, most of them look and act very much the same. TweetDeck, which released a new beta today, takes a refreshingly different approach by not only integrating support for search through Summize, but also by adding groups and by displaying more than one column at a time.While
TweetDeck is an AIR based application that was first discovered by Louis Gray. The major difference between TweetDeck and other Twitter clients like Twhirl, Snitter, Twitteriffic, and AlertThingy, is that it displays more than one column of information at a time. In TweetDeck, you can define columns for your replies, numerous searches in Summize, as well as groups. You can define up to 10 different columns.
The developers seem keenly aware of Twitter's problems and provide you with a status message at the bottom right of the client. We have seen it alternate between "Pretty much okay" and "Rate limit exceeded'" today. There is also an indication for when the last tweets were received in the bottom left corner of the application.
The column display can be rearranged according to taste - only the "All Tweets" column is fixed on the left side. Having all these columns open at the same time obviously means that TweetDeck occupies a lot more screen estate than other Twitter clients - however, the amount of information displayed is far greater as well. For some, this is a trade-off worth making, while it might be a deal-breaker for others.
The groups function is very useful, especially for people who follow a lot of people, but still want to be able to quickly see what their closest friends (or competitors) are saying. Usually, these messages are easily drowned out in the mass of tweets that come in at any given time.
Once a group is created, you can make changes to it by clicking on its name.
Right now, when you create a group, TweetDeck doesn't display a list of all your friends right away. As TweetDeck becomes aware of more of your friends over time, this problem disappears as TweetDeck's internal database picks up on your friends, but this might be quite confusing and frustrating for first time users.
One area where TweetDeck could use some more work is in its preferences - right now, there pretty much are none. You can't change the speed by which it checks for new tweets, there are no themes to chose from (why, by the way, do all AIR apps have to be so dark?), and there is no way to change the size of the fonts.
TweetDeck is probably not for everyone, but especially with Twitter's track function still being offline for now, the ability to have a persistent Summize search right in the client is a great feature just by itself. Once the group function works a little bit better, I would venture to guess that a lot more people will start using it. But even in its current state, it is definitely worth a closer look.