we introduced you to FriendDeck, a new online application that lets you monitor FriendFeed in a way that's very similar to how the Adobe AIR app, TweetDeck, monitors Twitter. Within FriendDeck's columns, you can track FriendFeed searches, users, friends, lists, rooms, and more.Last week
Recently, FriendDeck developer Paul Kinlan released an Adobe AIR application of his FriendFeed tracking tool. Although still rough around the edges, this app has potential to become a viable alternative interface to FriendFeed for the service's heaviest users.
FriendDeck's AIR App: Still Early, Could be Awesome
One of the best features of the new AIR application is how it syncs with the online version of FriendDeck. That means whatever changes you make within FriendDeck on the web show up in the desktop application and vice versa.(Side note: how we wish TweetDeck did this!)
But let's be clear. The Adobe AIR version of FriendDeck still needs a lot of work. The slider bars are hard to see, the columns can't be moved around, "un-like" didn't work in the first version we tested, pictures don't show along with posts, and performing searches requires the use of specific query syntax, like "friends:username." That last bit practically requires you to use a cheat sheet when building your columns. (For search query syntax, see the list provided here.)
Yet despite these problems - all of which are being addressed according to the developer - I still can't get enough of FriendDeck. Why? It's simple: FriendDeck gives me an eagle-eye view of the topics I care about on FriendFeed. Using the app, I can see a lot more information with a glance than when I use the FriendFeed web site itself.
Use FriendDeck to Follow Your Lists, Rooms, and Searches
There are a couple of ways you can use FriendDeck. For me, a compulsion to organize things into groups has led to the creation of over 30 lists for tracking specific topical areas outside of my "home" feed. I don't check each list daily, but it's nice to have them there. I doubt that anyone else has embarked on such madness, but even if you have only a few lists, like "Favorites" or "Personal", you can add them to the FriendDeck application by typing in "list:list_name" (where, obviously, "list_name" is the name of your list).
Similarly, if you're less inclined to use lists and more inclined to track items by keyword, you can instead just type in the word or words you want to track in the search box. For rooms, you would just type "room:room_name."
Use FriendDeck as a More Advanced Feed Reader
Another great way to use FriendDeck has to do with one of the biggest secrets surrounding FriendFeed itself: you don't have to participate to use the service. Although community members will tell you this goes against what FriendFeed is all about, it's true. If you're the kind of person who could care less about "liking" items or leaving comments on the latest internet meme, you can alternately use FriendFeed as an aggregator on topics you want to track, no participation required. Instead, FriendFeed can simply become the framework you use to build the feed reader of the future: an aggregator which lets you follow much more than RSS feeds alone.
For example, take any subject about which you're passionate. You could build a private FriendFeed room that you fill with blogs, news sites, Twitter searches, Google searches, well-known Twitter users who post on this subject, and more. Within one interface, you can track it all. This is a million times better than just following blogs in an RSS reader or just tracking Twitter posts using Twitter's search engine because you're not limited to RSS alone.
You can share these rooms with others either by making them public or by inviting select users - like your colleagues - to join. Alternately, you can keep them completely private and only for your personal use.
You can then add these personalized rooms into FriendDeck by typing in "room:room_name" and soon you'll have one single application that tracks everything you care about on the internet - from blogs posts to tweets and so much more. And it's all in one window.
In explaining how FriendDeck works, it occurs to us that it may sound a bit complicated for the average user. That may be true, but then again, FriendFeed itself is an application that requires a lot of explanation, too. It's also quite possible that FriendFeed and FriendDeck will never cross over into "regular user" territory. That's OK, though. For anyone who has learned how to use FriendFeed - really use FriendFeed - applications like FriendDeck will hold appeal, despite their complications.
It's still far too early to call FriendDeck a complete success or failure, but it's not too early to use it. If you're geeky enough to learn its quirks, you may find the FriendFeed desktop application you've been waiting for. If not, then feel free to return to your browser.