If Steve Jobs used Twitter, he’d be saying, “There must be a better way.” During the day, I use Tweetdeck, Twhirl, and CoTweet on a regular basis to manage my Twitter accounts. I’ve also tried Tweetie, PeopleBrowsr, Seesmic Desktop, and Nambu. How can this be? I would like one ultimate Twitter client—in a nutshell, it should work like an email client because Twitter is a hardcore communication tool for me, not a “fun” social diversion. Specifically, here is my dream list:
- No wasted vertical space. My biggest complaint about the current clients is the inefficient use of vertical space. I want to see as many tweets at once as possible because most of the time I’m on a 13 inch MacBook. Maybe all Twitter client designers should use only small laptops to understand the issue. (Twhirl does this well.)
- No extra clicks or dialogs. Perhaps the people who design Twitter clients have too much time. What else can explain designs that require you to click on an icon to get to dialog to perform actions as common as replying to a tweet? (CoTweet does this well.)
- Multiple-account support. I have two active accounts on Twitter: one for me and one for my company. Supporting at least two accounts is now necessary because many people have corporate and personal accounts. (CoTweet does this well.)
- One “inbox.” Imagine if your email client required a separate window or panel for each email account. Wouldn’t you go crazy? My ideal Twitter client would have one inbox with one column that displayed the account name and another column that depicted whether the tweet is a @, Direct, or search result. (CoTweet does this well.)
- Load in less than thirty seconds. I don’t know what causes some Twitter clients or web pages to take so long to load, but my limit is thirty seconds. Even my copy of Entourage with a three gigabyte data file loads in under thirty seconds. If you want to see a Twitter client that loads fast, try the iPhone version of Tweetie. I don’t understand how it can be so fast.
- 155-character editing area. This is related to wasting vertical space. Have you seen Twitter clients with editing areas that could hold War and Peace? All this for 140 characters. All I need is space for about 155 characters—the extra fifteen are to accommodate extra characters until I pare down the tweet.
- Changeable font and font size. This is 2009, right? I hear that changeable fonts and sizes are all the rage. Font customization gets more important when you cross into the second fifty years of your life, and your eyesight degrades.
- Changeable column width and column order. Assuming that designers don’t listen to me and require the use of more than one inbox, at least let me change the width of each column and the order in which they appear.
- Command-key equivalents for common functions. When you are a power user, clicking on buttons is too slow. I’d like command-key equivalents for the most common actions such as command N for a new tweet, command D for a direct, and command 2 for an @. (Tweetie desktop version does this well.)
- Address book. Imagine if you had to remember the email address of people you wanted to correspond with or hope that they recently sent you a message in order to send them a message. That’s what Twitter is like without an address book.
- Groups. Part of a good address book would include the ability to create groups of people—for example, your company employees. Any decent email client’s address book has groups, so my dream Twitter client should too.
- Threading of tweets. I would like a client that threads tweets—that is, to track the trail of tweets and responses. I’m not sure if it’s the volume tweets that I deal with or my fading mind, but I find it very hard to remember what previous tweets refer to. (CoTweet does this well.)
- Archive of sent and deleted tweets. Also due to the volume or my fading mind, but I’d like to archive sent and deleted tweets. I need to be able to search these archives too.
- Delete Directs from server. Some Twitter clients allow you to hide Directs. Twhirl does this even better: it enables you to delete them from the server when you’re done with them. This is very useful. (Twhirl does this well.)
- Hide tweets that you’ve read. I don’t think it’s possible to delete public tweets (as opposed to Directs) since they are public. However, it’s very useful to be hide the ones that you’ve already read. (Tweetdeck does this well.)
- Point-and-click search editor. One of Twitter’s strengths is the ability to create searches like “-rt Guykawasaki OR Alltop” which translates to showing the tweets that contain either Guykawasaki or Alltop but are not retweets of tweets by @guykawasaki or @alltop. But how many people know the syntax of Twitter’s search capability? It would help if there were a search editor that mortals could use.
- Editable custom searches. I’d like to be able to edit a custom search after I’ve used it. I don’t think there’s a way to do this with any Twitter client right now, and I’m always altering my searches. This currently requires deleting the current one and rebuilding a new one from scratch every time.
- Change outgoing tweets from @s and Directs and vice versa. Sometimes I receive an @, but I want to respond via a Direct. And sometimes I receive a Direct and want to respond via a public @. I want to change this on a tweet by tweet basis. (CoTweet does this well.)
- Change between accounts. One of the advantages of multiple accounts is ability to receive an @ at one account and respond to from another. For example, if someone writes to your personal account, but it’s more appropriate to respond from your corporate one. I want to change this on a tweet by tweet basis. (CoTweet does this well.)
- Set default account. One of the consequences of multiple accounts is the necessity to set a default account for new tweets. Also, a preference that enables you to respond via the account that a tweet was sent to, as opposed to the default account, would be nice too.
- Email tweets. In addition to the usual actions of replying and retweeting, I’d like to select a tweet and email it using my default email client. I need to do this to remind myself to do something or to forward to others for their action or amusement. (The Tweetie iPhone version does this very well.)
- Schedule and repeat tweets. When you tweet fifty times a day, you sometimes need to spread them out. And you may also want to repeat them for the same reason that CNN or ESPN run identical coverage during the day: the audience changes during the day.?
- Zooming avatar. One of my favorite features of Tweetdeck is that when you doubleclick on an avatar, it zooms to a large size. This is very useful for getting a better sense of who you’re dealing with. The screen that contains the zoomed avatar should also provide all of the person’s profile information too.
- “Fire and forget” tweeting of pictures. I’d like to attach a picture to a tweet and then when I send the tweet, the upload occurs, and its URL is appended to it. When the client detects that I’ve attached a picture, it should figure out how many characters the URL will be and subtract that from the 140 limit. This procedure will allow me to “fire and forget” a tweet rather than having to upload and then draft the tweet.
This is my dreamlist. Please add your list of features in the comments. If you’re a programmer, I hope you take this task on and make me a very happy camper.
(Disclosure: I am an advisor to CoTweet.)