Once I became a regular Twitter user, I abandoned the web interface and instead started using a client. For a long while, the de facto client for Windows was Tweetdeck. The ability to manage lists and segregate users into classifications was very useful for those that follow a very eclectic group of Twitterers. Also very useful to me was the multiple column layout, which allowed me to keep track of my timeline, mentions, and hashtag searches. This last feature was the most attractive to me when attending Tech Field Day events, as I tend to monitor the event hashtag closely for questions and comments. So it was that I became a regular user of Tweetdeck. It was the only reason I installed Adobe Air on my desktop and laptop. It was the first application I launched in the morning and the last I closed at night.
That was before the dark times. Before…Twitter.
Last May, Twitter purchased Tweetdeck for about $40 million. I was quite excited at first. The last time this happened, Twitter turned the Tweetie client for iPhone and Mac into the official client for those platforms. I liked the interface in the iPhone and hoped that Twitter would pour some development into Tweetdeck and turn it into the official cross-platform client for power users. Twitter took their time consolidating the development team and updating Tweetdeck as they saw fit. About six months later, Twitter released Tweetdeck 1.0, and increase from Tweetdeck’s last version of 0.38.2. Gone was the dependency on Adobe Air, instead using HTML5. That was probably the only good thing about it. The interface was rearranged. Pieces of critical information, like date and time of tweets was gone. The interface defaulted to using “real” names instead of Twitter handles. The multiple column layout was broken. All in all, it took me about a day to delete the 1.0 app from my computer and go back to the version 0.38 Air app. I’d rather have an old client that works than a newer broken client.
As the weeks passed, I realized that Tweetdeck Air was having a few issues. People would randomly be unfollowed. Tweets would have issues being posted. Plus, I knew that I would eventually be forced to upgrade if Twitter released a killer new feature. I wanted a new client but I wanted it to be like the old Tweetdeck. I was about to give up hope when Matthew Norwood (@MatthewNorwood) mentioned that he’d been using a new client. Behold – Janetter:
It even looks like the old Tweetdeck! It uses the Chromium rendering engine (Webkit on Mac) to display tweets. This also means that the interface is fully skinnable with HTML5 and CSS. Support for multiple accounts, multiple columns, lists, and filtering/muting make it just as useful as the old Tweetdeck. Throw in in-line image previews and the ability to translate highlighted phrases and you see that there’s a lot here to utilize. I started using it as my Windows client full time and I use the Mac version when I need to monitor hashtags. I find it very easy to navigate and use.
That’s not to say there aren’t a couple of caveats. Keeping up with a large volume of tweets can be cumbersome if you step away from the keyboard. The auto scrolling is a bit buggy sometimes. As well, sometimes I get random tweets that were read being marked as unread. The default user interface is a bit of a trainwreck (I recommend the Deep Sea theme). Despite these little issues, I find Janetter to be a great replacement overall for the Client Formerly Known As Tweetdeck for those of you that miss the old version but can’t bring yourself to install what Twitter released a very “1.0 product”. Perhaps with a little time and some proper feedback, Twitter will remake their version of Tweetdeck into what it used to be with some polish and new features.
Head over to http://janetter.net to see more features or download a copy for your particular flavor of operating system. You can also download Janetter through the Mac App Store.