Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Comparing Social Software Desktop Clients

There are a bunch of desktop clients available for Twitter, but here I am trying to target the clients that allow accessing other social networks, and facilitate cross posting. With this sudden surge of social networks and a lot of people are getting on to multiple networks like Facebook, Flickr, Blogger, Yammer, Twitter etc and it is high time that we have clients which connect to other networks too.


Twhirl has pretty slick interface and connects to Jaiku and Ping.fm. It uses Ping.fm to connect to other social networks like Facebook and MySpace but does not connect by itself. Twhirl does not let you see the status updates and activities in your other networks on your desktop client. Instead, it just facilitates cross-posting your updates only. The application is light weight and very user friendly.


TweetDeck is one of the widely used desktop clients for Twitter. It has Spaz, Snitter, Twhirl, DestroyTwitter etc as competitors. TweetDeck has column based view and you can add quite a few columns for search terms that you want to track. This is apart from your own stream, replies stream and direct messages stream. Twhirl does not give you this flexibility. TweetDeck recently brought out a pre-release version which integrates with Facebook where it allows the user to view status updates of friends on Facebook as well as post messages from Twitter on to Facebook. Being a pre-release version, they have kept it pretty simple. TweetDeck also has API usage statistics and Twitter status. It, however, needs to provide more customizations for the UI like changing fonts and resizing columns.


AlertThingy's enhanced version was recently released and allows access to Twitter, Facebook, Yammer, Basecamp, Flickr and a host of other social networks. Apart from messages, you can post links and photos on to Facebook which is not provided in TweetDeck or Twhirl. Not just that, AlertThingy lets you access news feeds too which I think is pretty cool. It lags behind in customizations of the UI though. It comes as a very handy tool when you want to use Twitter with Yammer and Facebook. They also have a FriendFeed version. If your popup notification is ON, it can become a little irritating after a while whereas TweetDeck and Twhirl have pretty slick notification system. TweetDeck and Twhirl also scores with reply and re-tweet buttons placed on the Avatar rather than as a separate "Option" in AlertThingy.

All three of these are built on Adobe AIR which makes it work on both Windows and Mac. AlertThingy is rich with functionalities and looks like it has become complicated, but Twhirl and TweetDeck keeps it simple. TweetDeck offers better experience in its simplicity.

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