Robert Scoble posted a thought-provoking entry today about his quest for the perfect Facebook/Twitter client. I’ve been on a similar quest, so I was hoping he had a great answer. Sadly, he didn’t.
I’ve been a TweetDeck user for a while now. I really like it, but I’m always hunting for something better. I’ve become a huge fan of the new Twitter Lists feature, so I want something that handles those. In particular, here’s what I need from a client:
- Be able to show my Twitter lists in separate columns.
- Be able to hide the other columns (all, replies, etc). “All” is pretty much useless, and I manage replies and DMs through coTweet.
- Have those columns automatically refresh every few minutes.
- Be able to clear the columns so I can see new items when they come in. I keep my inbox clean, and I like my Twitter client the same way.
- I’d like to be able to resize the columns, but that’s not a required element.
- I’d like to be able to have a Facebook column, but this also isn’t required.
That’s it! Doesn’t seem so hard, does it? Well, it is.
Seesmic Desktop comes close, but the lists don’t autorefresh. I don’t have time to be refreshing my columns all day to see what’s new. Also, you can’t resize the columns.
Seesmic Web has some cool features, but doesn’t let you clear columns and you can’t resize them at all — and they’re WIDE…
Seesmic for Windows might be the best one eventually. It looks gorgeous. However, it’s clearly a developer preview and missing a lot of features: it forgets which columns you had open, cleared columns refill with everything (not just new entries), you can’t resize columns, and there’s no Facebook support. This is certainly one to watch, but it’s not there yet.
PeopleBrowsr has some neat features. It handles lists well, you can resize columns, and it does a lot of neat stuff. Really, the biggest problem with it is the design — it’s chaotic. Buttons and arrows and info just everywhere. Also, it doesn’t have Facebook support. Still, in terms of pure features, it’s right up there.
The winner for now is sobees. Who are they? I played with their client a few months ago, and it was pretty nice. I tried it again today and I’m sold — it’s nearly perfect! Their “sobees web” application (similar to Seesmic Web) doesn’t support lists, but their main product (“sobees lite“) does. And it’s awesome.
- Great list support.
- Resizable columns.
- Multiple Twitter accounts.
- A wide variety of layout options.
- Facebook support.
- You can clear columns easily.
- Columns repopulate with only the new posts
- It’s got a nice clean interface.
It even has a mode where you get tabs across the top instead of columns, with the full space below used to show the list of tweets. This works great on my netbook where a normal set of columns gets to be far too wide. Here’s how that looks:
It’s certainly not perfect. My biggest issue with it is a small bug where I can’t save the settings for refresh rate. The default rate needs a bit of tweaking for my needs and it never saves the changes. This occurs on my Windows 7 desktop and my Windows XP netbook, so it seems to be a problem on their end. However, it’s not a gamebreaker.
All in all, sobees is by far the best client out there right now. Even if you disagree, it still needs to be considered. I can’t figure out why TweetDeck and Seesmic get all of the press. They’re certainly great products, but why is sobees never mentioned?
Things change quickly. I expect a big new version of TweetDeck real soon, and Seesmic for Windows will be very solid as it continues to develop. The beauty of Twitter lists is that my columns can follow me to the best client with almost no effort. For now, that client is sobees.