I counted: 31 tweets. That’s the amount I could see in my traditional TweetDeck window the other day. But at the same time, the new TweetDeck preview only showed me 21 tweets, 38 percent fewer, and that’s with the narrowest columns and smallest font available, just to be clear.
For over a decade, people have sworn that TweetDeck is the power user alternative to the original Twitter app, but what most people really mean is one specific thing: allows you to see more tweets. TweetDeck allows you to see more tweets without having to scroll. It gives you a full panel of tweets that you can throw on a monitor, without supervision. The power of TweetDeck is that it is visible, a way to passively harness a fire hose for personal interests. That is why it is such a powerful tool for the newsrooms of the world and a tool The edge used daily.
This is also why I cannot understand how Twitter could have allowed this new version of TweetDeck to reach the world, even in beta form. Now I’m worried that Twitter has forgotten why we use TweetDeck.
If you break it down, there are easily half a dozen little culprits, each one can be forgivable on its own:
- There is a lot of wasted space around tweets.
- Reply, retweet, and likes buttons have been spaced out and take up more space.
- TweetDeck’s left rail is wider, for no apparent reason.
- Twitter lists inexplicably come with an “overview” at the top, one that leaves an ugly “show overview” button even if you minimize it.
- Tweet previews within tweets (i.e. quote tweets) now take up much more vertical space.
- The scroll bars are thicker now, because they are native to the browser, unlike the custom bars above, and in Chrome, they don’t seem to render correctly in dark mode.
Together these changes add up to a less visible TweetDeck, whether you have it on a dedicated portrait monitor (like me) or not. I’m frustrated that my 16:10 monitor can no longer fit four full columns without changing my browser’s zoom, but it could honestly be worse in the landscape – if you follow people who retweet a lot of things, you’ll be lucky enough to see four. at the same time in any column before they disappear from view.
When Twitter teased the new TweetDeck on Tuesday, the knee-jerk reaction was that our precious columns might have been removed forever, due to a teaser image that, to put it mildly, was not satisfying for power users of TweetDeck. Hours later, Twitter realized its mistake, tweeting “Don’t worry! Your favorite TweetDeck features won’t go away,” suggesting that the columns are alive and well. Twitter’s Eric Zuckerman, who helps the company partner with news publishers, even defended the layout of tweeting a picture of him:
I have been using the new TweetDeck preview for 9 months. If you are a long time user and the image below puzzles you, rest assured that you can customize your columns to look and behave much like the version you know and love. For example, here is mine: pic.twitter.com/i9bT1Mkfr8 https://t.co/16dHgdVXAQ
– Eric Zuckerman (@EricZuck) July 20, 2021
And yet some of Zuckerman’s columns only allow you to view two large tweets at a time. Two.
The new TweetDeck has some positives. I’m happy that Twitter is bringing its new composer and direct message box from Twitter.com. It’s nice to have more precise control over images, for example, and you could argue that the pop-up box saves you from having to erect a dedicated column for them (though, for The edgeprivate news account, it only blocks part of our view). And while I couldn’t care less about being able to switch between column-filled “decks” from a single Twitter account, like virtual desktops, I’m sure some social media admins are excited.
The new Notifications column is neat as well, allowing you to easily see individual user alerts and when their tweets have been liked and retweeted, rather than just seeing when they have mentioned it. That plus columns for your own profile, Twitter browse tab, events, topics, moments, and advanced Boolean search could make TweetDeck a complete alternative to Twitter, rather than causing you to occasionally switch between the two. .
But aside from a few conveniences, I’m not looking for TweetDeck to be more like Twitter.com. Vanilla Twitter already exists and is just one click away. (Or at least, it was until TweetDeck Preview added its own TweetDeck.com URLs for individual tweets, yuck.) I chose TweetDeck because it was more efficient, just like I chose a number of third-party Twitter apps when they existed, before Twitter capped the rate for most of them to death and prevented tweets from automatically updating as they entered.
Ironically, I’m also having some issues with the TweetDeck preview – if I step away from the new TweetDeck window for a while, I find that the auto-refresh feature doesn’t always keep popping up new tweets in my view. . Twitter says TweetDeck is currently trying to keep your current scrolling position so you don’t lose track when more tweets come in, but it wants feedback. (My comments: make “do not scroll” an option).
Twitter tells me that it’s already getting a lot of early comments that tweet density is important to people, and that comments are point to bring this preview to the world. The company wants to explore what it should actually include in the final version, and reviews like mine can help. Oh, and it’s especially important here because Twitter expects people to pay for this new version of TweetDeck. “With this test, we hope to gather feedback to explore what an enhanced version of TweetDeck might look like within Twitter subscription offerings later on,” writes a spokesperson.
I hope so, because there aren’t many things that keep me on Twitter these days except for the efficiency of TweetDeck, and this preview version is less efficient on pretty much every front. If Twitter destroys TweetDeck, I will not refuse to pay, I will probably leave Twitter forever.