UI issues in Twitter for Mac/Tweetie 2

Twitter for OS X, as made available via the Mac App Store and hereafter referred to as “Tweetie 2 for Mac” or “Tweetie 2″, is absolutely the best Twitter client for OS X available today. That isn’t necessarily saying a lot – I’m no fan of the state of desktop Twitter clients in general – but Tweetie 2, like Tweetie for Mac before it, manages to be more polished than any other Mac Twitter client. That said, Tweetie 2 has some major issues relating to missing features and UI quirks, a few of which I’ll detail here.

It completely ignores the HIG. I’m largely OK with this though. The interface is certainly very stylish and largely usable. However, a side effect of the completely non-standard window design is that the┬ádrag area is impossibly small, occupying only the space between the traffic light widgets.

Update: This is incorrect – the entire black sidebar area is actually draggable.


There’s also an odd issue with window positioning – it’s not possible to position the window in such a manner that the lower edge is below the notional top of the OS X dock. I’m not aware of any other application that behaves this way – the original Tweetie certainly didn’t.

Hiding the dock, or placing it on another screen edge, allows the window to be positioned on the bottom screen edge. Tweetie 2 seems to be ensuring it’s never positioned off the edge of the screen – a noble goal, perhaps, but it’d be nice if it’d let me position it in such a manner as to not waste a gutter of a pixels at the bottom of the display.

The video below shows the behaviour of the original and new versions of the app with regard to window placement.

Bizarrely Tweetie 2 no longer responds correctly to the unversal “Close Window” OS X keyboard shortcut, Cmd-W. Instead, issuing Cmd-W causes Tweetie 2 to hide – the functionality is identical to issuing Cmd-H. This is easily demonstrated by opening the Compose Tweet window, selecting the main Twitter window, then issuing Cmd-W, which causes the whole application to hide. Clicking its icon then restores both windows. The same occurs when using the menu commands for Close/Hide in place of the keyboard shortcuts. This is shown in the following video.

Tweetie 2, at long last, brings official retweet support to the OS X client – but actually using it spawns a modal dialogue. Worse, if the Tweetie 2 window’s width is less than that of the resulting dialogue box then the entire Tweetie 2 window is repositioned until the dialogue is dismissed. Retweeting when window is less wide than the retweet dialogue repositions the window, as shown in the following video.

There’s also some feature regression. It’s no longer possible to determine whether or not a user is following you – functionality previously available in the original Tweetie for OS X, and in both the iPhone and iPad Twitter applications.

Disappointingly, there are obvious and useful features from the iPhone client which haven’t been implemented, such as the ability to view your retweets, the ability to report accounts as spam, or add or remove users from a list. There’s no geolocation support, despite Snow Leopard’s inclusion of the same Core Location wifi positioning capabilities as the iOS devices, and the Profile view doesn’t display the total number of tweets for any account, including your own.

Update: It turns out it’s possible to report a user a spam via the user’s Profile page, though it’s odd this hasn’t been added to the (already overloaded) context menu.

The right-click/context menu options are much more comprehensive than they used to be but the lumping of a dozen or more actions into these menus seems unwieldy.

The only way to post an image is to drag and drop it into the New Tweet window. The ability to do so is a welcome addition, but the removal of the ability to browse to an image is a net usability loss.

URL shortening is now enabled by default, removing an extra step when posting but making it impossible to deliberately post a full link – something I do infrequently but occasionally have need for regardless. It’s also no longer possible to select which shortening service to use – all URLs are shortened via t.co, Twitter’s own URL shortening service.

Worse, it shortens everything. URL’s which are shorter than the resulting shortened URL are shortened anyway. URL’s to other shortening services such as bit.ly, for example, are re-wrapped as t.co URLs.

It’s such a shame – after the long, long wait for Tweetie to be updated to bring it up to the same standards of functionality and usability as the simple iPhone client, Twitter for Mac seems to miss the mark in such a large number of ways I wonder if it was rushed out to meet the Mac App Store launch deadline. While I’d normally hold out hope that these issues will eventually be resolved the glacial pace of development for the Mac version of Tweetie leaves little reason to be hopeful they will be fixed soon.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted January 10, 2011 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more! The UI is fresh and interesting, but completely inconsistent with everything else in OS X. Why are the traffic lights in the top left corner black? I would understand if they were black when using the “graphite” theme, but it should display the red, yellow and green gems for the “aqua” theme, like QuickTime X.

    The fact that the window cannot be positioned below the dock is not a big deal to me, but I can understand why people might want to position it below the dock. However, my biggest complaint is the “New Tweet” dialogue box. It’s a modal dialogue box, which is extremely annoying when you’re trying to tweet and switch between Safari and Mail or whatever at the same time (to copy a link or refer to a webpage or something). The New Tweet window stays on top of everything! I end up having to move it to the corner just to get it out of the way. It’s frustrating to say the least.

    • Posted January 10, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Thanks.

      I should perhaps have made clear I don’t necessarily have an issue with the aesthetic design of the application – Tweetie has never been built with standard OS X window widgets or controls. Tweetie 2 simply feels like an evolution of the aesthetic of the first application. And it seems to take queues from Apple’s own apps – it’s not actually that far removed from something like Quicktime X, or the full-screen modes of Aperture or the iLife 11 suite.

      My issue is primarily with the fact that it simply doesn’t behave like Mac application. The window can’t be positioned like normal Mac apps, it doesn’t respond properly to the system standard window close behaviour, its Z-ordering (as you point out, the New Tweet window appears to float on top of everything else) is non-standard, etc.

      While there’s hope that we’ll see feature expansions, and some of the more obvious UI bugs resolved, I’m not sure how quickly (or if at all) some of these other non-standard behaviours will be fixed. It seems to be using custom methods to draw its interface, and as a result doesn’t behave in the same way applications using native APIs do.

  2. Lucas
    Posted January 11, 2011 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    It IS still possible to determine if a user is following you, the feature is just a bit (ok, a lot) more hidden this time. Mouse hover the following/unfollow button in someone’s profile within the app, and the information pops up.

  3. Posted January 21, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Hahaha, exactly my problems too :D

    I hope they’re going to fix these things so it works like Tweetie again. This sux!

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