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On deck with Tweetdeck? The Power is in the Browser! PeopleBrowsr FTW!

Why I switched from Tweetdeck to PeopleBrowsr

A lot of you have been asking and quietly wondering why I’ve switched from Tweetdeck to PeopleBrowsr. Rather than trying to explain this over and over, I’m going to give you a comparison right here. The fact of the matter is that there’s too much in PeopleBrowsr to actually put into a single tweet!

Many of you know that I’m something of a power tweeter. I send a lot of tweets out, and I spend a lot of time paying attention to a lot more. When I’m tweeting a lot I tend to want to talk to many many different people. Social networking is all about engaging with the people you meet online, and if you’re following as many people as I am it’s a huge challenge to see what they’re doing.

As soon as I learned of it, I was all about Tweetdeck. It gives me the ability to create groups, and create searches very easily. At the time I started using Tweetdeck I was following about 500 people. Some people were overwhelming me with their volume of tweets, and others were lost in the that sea of data. So I made some groups. And I was searching for a new job, so I made a couple different searches. At this point, I was watching my DMs, my Replies(mentions), All my Friends (people I was following) a group of power tweeters, a group of job tweeters, a search on some terms I was looking for in a job, and random job related tweets in another search. And then i realized I needed to create a couple more groups beyond that. This finally left me with only one column in the Tweetdeck maximum of 10. I was out of space.

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Tweetdeck just wasn’t enough!

On top of that, I was out of machine. Tweetdeck was quickly consuming all of the resources that my poor little laptop has. I was slowed to a crawl. So I took Robert Scoble’s advice and got myself over to FriendFeed, because Robert said he was able to watch a huge amount of tweets coming into there as well, and make more groups there. But I quickly realized that this was insuficient as well. At that time, FriendFeed’s default mode wasn’t to operate in realtime, and at most 10% of the people I was following on Twitter were also on FriendFeed. And I was continuing to follow more and more people on Twitter.

Still not Enough, Open more Web Pages!

So I went back to Tweetdeck, and I cut down some columns, and created some more groups. I had to stop watching my DMs in Tweetdeck, and open yet another webpage, twitter.com (which I really don’t like) to see my DMs. This exposed me to something I really don’t like: Failwhales! On top of all this I was beginning to become more active on more social networks, more Facebook time, reading more on Digg, and in general trying to get more new into my stream so that I could start my blog, and find some work. I was making use of TweetLater.com so that I could delay some of my job wanted announcements, and send out other tweets while I wasn’t necessarily focused in my Tweetdeck. I was having to use either search.twitter.com or tweetgrid.com to keep more searches running than I had columns for in Tweetdeck. Honestly, I was overwhelmed. I simply couldn’t keep up. And between the performance problems I was having with Tweetdeck, and Twitter itself giving me failwhales, I was frustrated most of the time. Tweets weren’t going out, I was failing to respond to DMs in a timely fashion, and I was feeling like I was simply working too hard to keep up with all of my social networking. But I knew I needed to continue, because, above all, I needed to find some work! And the job websites just don’t cut it anymore, so I knew I had to step up my game somehow.

I tried a bunch of other Twitter clients, and tried to use FriendFeed as a twitter client. But the best I was able to do seemed to be just what Scoble said: Use Tweetdeck and FriendFeed together.

Then on FriendFeed I ran across a tweet that was my salvation.

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I read Ricci’s review of PeopleBrowsr, and knew I had to check it out. Ricci (thankfully) let me know that this was going to be overwhelming at first. So much power doesn’t come without some kind of a learning curve. I was pretty convinced this was the tool for me. After all, Tim O’Reilly probably knows something about what he’s talking about, right?

I fired up PeopleBrowsr and Tweetdeck together and started comparing things. The first thing I noticed was that there was just way more going on in my PeopleBrowsr. Visually overwhelming I thought, but I persevered. I opened up all my stacks(columns) about me, my DMs, Replies, the Following(All Friends), and thought, wow, I can watch all my Followers too! I don’t have to follow everyone back just to see what they tweet about! So then I made a few groups. My groups in Tweetdeck were huge, and it was too much work to add the people right away, so I didn’t give up on my Tweetdeck. I ran them together for a while.

And then I remembered: API calls! OMG, I was going to run out of API calls running both. But I noticed that I wasn’t. Tweetdeck was using its usual, just under 100 per hour, and PeopleBrowsr was keeping right up and delivering the same tweets! This must be some kind of magic. (It is, PeopleBrowsr is caching all the data they get from Twitter, so they don’t use nearly as many of your 100 API calls/hour as most clients). The next thing I noticed was that my machine wasn’t slowing down anymore than having just Tweetdeck open. So with the few groups made, I could watch some of my friends now, and I closed Tweetdeck. Over the next couple weeks I still used my Tweetdeck, but mostly because I couldn’t remember everybody in all my groups, and couldn’t give up on my followers, and my flow. (Now PeopleBrowsr’s AIR client can import your Tweetdeck groups!) About this time I was realizing that I could do searches like I can in Tweetdeck. I asked the developers of PeopleBrowsr (who are VERY helpful, much more so than the Tweetdeck devs IMO) if they could tell me the search operators. I got from them a list of operators that just put Tweetdeck to shame, and tried out the search. Now, I was getting to the point that I had 10 columns(stacks), and figured that I was going to be done. But, no! I just kept making search stack after search stack.

More than just Twitter and Facebook

WOW! I had long ago closed the Facebook column in my Tweetdeck to save on a column, and closed my DMs, and was having Tweetdeck open profiles via the twitter.com website. Not so in PeopleBrowsr. It was all right there. And the PeopleProfiles aren’t just the Twitter profiles, they contain the person’s entire known social graph - shows me their Twitter profile, their Facebook information, FriendFeed, identi.ca, Youtube, Flickr, and more. Incredible.

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I wanted more, but I just knew that this application was going to kill my computer. So I tried anyhow ;-) I like to know my limits, so I try to break things as quickly as possible. I clicked on the Accounts link, and started filling in the rest of my accounts: Flickr, Youtube, digg, identi.ca, Myspace, LinkedIn, (Plaxo? I guessed I would sign up for that later!). As soon as I had the credentials entered I set about trying to break PeopleBrowsr (and bring my computer to it’s knees). I opened up just about every thing I could. I looked and the only thing that I had run out of on my computer was desktop real estate! Everything was running great. PeopleBrowsr was only using about 30MB more RAM than Tweetdeck. With TWENTY more columns open!

Then I noticed the Outbox, and a little clock icon my my tweet post box up top. With not much to go on for documentation, I just clicked on everything. My brain and I had some idea that this was a scheduler. No way! It IS! This meant, to me, that I could get rid of Tweetlater.com now too. I was getting more and more of my computer back. And still watching more and more data come in! Now I was really jazzed.

I dropped in on the PeopleBrowsr AlphaTesters Google group. I was starting to notice a few bugs here and there. But I was becoming more and more reliant on PeopleBrowsr, so I thought I could maybe help squish a few. I’ve been part of these groups in the past, so I didn’t expect much. I was very pleasantly surprised that someone from PeopleBrowsr was quickly tending to every single bug message that they saw. That’s what I call Service!

The Features List Goes On and On!

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So back to PeopleBrowsr I went, knowing that if something was broken, it would get fixed. I started clicking on more things I saw in the interface. I tried the search again. I realized that “Bio” meant that I could search through someones bio! How many times have you power tweeters wanted to do that?! I clicked on the Groups icon to see what more I could do there. I found that I could bring up “#hashtag groups” - everyone that’s posted a tweet with a given hashtag all in one group! I saw the public groups, and saw I could make any group I created into a public group, or share my friends with my friends!

I clicked on the little camera icon to see what it would do. “Upload a file it said” So, since I do what the computer tells me, I did it. And it put the link to TwitPic right there in the tweet post box for me! All I had to do was write up a little tweet. Now I could send my photos out on Twitter, which always seemed like too much trouble to me.

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I clicked on the “To” button. I was elated! I had checkboxes for Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, identi.ca and even ping.fm. I tried it, and sure enough I was able to post status updates absolutely everywhere! what I couldn’t send right from PeopleBrowsr, I could have ping.fm send for me. Cool.

I clicked on the little helicopter, thinking, hmm. Those things are hard to fly ;-) What a great feature there. I quickly saw that I could watch the top tweet from each one of my stacks all in a single column. I didn’t have to keep scrolling back and forth, OR have 3 25″ monitors to watch all my data coming in. It’s all right there, right where I need it.

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Does this ever end?

Nope. I went back to a tweet, and looked at all the actions I could perform from a single tweet. Reply, DM, retweet. All those seemed pretty expected. But I started clicking on the other icons (which all had mouseover names BTW). First I saw the little speech bubbles. I was pretty sure I knew what those were: the answser to “in reply to” Awesome, but to my surprise, unlike the one previous tweet I see on the twitter website or in Tweetdeck, I saw the entire thread! This just keeps getting better and better! I saw that I could make a ToDo list of tweets that had action items in them, email a tweet to someone, link a Plaxo contact, make them person a VIP, make a note, tag the person so other PeopleBrowsr users would know more about them, rate the post or Assign the post to someone (Yes, PeopleBrowsr supports multiple accounts!!!)

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Down at the bottom of each stack I saw more stuff to click. I could re-sort the stack alphabetically or chronologically, shrink people’s heads (smaller avatars), search through the stack, see just their avatars, export the stack of tweets, just see posts with links. I could even see a map of the world showing me who tweeted from where!

More Improvments

Now, there’s three different modes (Lite, Advanced, and Business). I can recommend this to my not so geeky friends I thought! The lite mode doesn’t show you all the features right away, simplifying the experience for someone who just wants to start out with a simple Twitter client. But soon enough, that’s not enough and you’ll want to look into the Advanced mode. Then my curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to try out the business mode.

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Multiple Accounts and Multiple Users

I looked at the few more features that were available. I knew that I could assign tweets, and now I realized that I could enter in multiple twitter accounts! I could easily click on avatars at the tops of the stacks to see what one account, the other, or both would see as far as tweet streams. I realized that in doing so I would change which account sent the replies.

I saw another new icon, a couple of crossed tools. I love tools, so I clicked this. “Campaign Builder” it said to me. And it hit me like a ton of bricks! I could close down not only another web page, but a whole twitter client. Not only was PeopleBrowsr replacing TweetDeck, but it’s going to replace my CoTweet as well! I can have it auto-draft a tweet based on keywords I’m searching for (it it’s going to ask me before I send it!) I can collect statistics on the keywords I’m searching for, AND I can search for positve and negative sentiments thanks to the sentiment dictionary at PeopleBrowsr.

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Customizable Interface

And so finally I could go back to fun things, like changing the colors. I can color code the stacks so that important ones catch my eye. I can change how many stacks are on each screenful, change the font size, change the colors of the tweet backgrounds, change just about colors on just about everything. I could change so much, and customize parts of the interface to my liking a lot. Absolute or relative timestamps, take the Reply icon out of my DM stack (saving me from embarrassing publicly sent DMs!) turn off the autorefresh if I want, change the font size, and so much more. I found I could even have PeopleBrowsr send my DMs to me in an email! (and I can reply to them straight from my emailbox too!)

I haven’t really even touched on the reports (custom searches), the fact that I can view a web page right in the PeopleBrowsr client, the fact that I can bring my RSS feeds into a stack, compress the whole interface into a single stack view, and even share my searches with other PeopleBrowsr users! I’ll save all that for another day. And I’ll show you how to use it all too.

There’s a lot to learn here in PeopleBrowsr, but as I said at the beginning, the power available is more than worth the learning curve. Give it a spin. You’ll soon see why in the latest poll PeopleBrowsr was already voted higher than Tweetdeck. And as I write this post, PeopleBrowsr hasn’t even gone into the Beta stage yet, it’s still Alpha. In my opinion, it’s more stable, and has a smaller footprint than just about any client, and it has easily 10 times the featureset. And, now you can run it in almost any browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and soon IE8) or if you want you can run it through Adobe AIR (and import your Tweetdeck groups for a quick start!)

Now you see why I love this product. And you see why I said it was going to take more than a few tweets to tell you all about it!

Why are you still on deck? Start browsing. And meet some People!

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Disclosure: I liked Peoplebrowsr so much, that I joined the company. This piece was written last week, and scheduled for publication today. I also started working for PeopleBrowsr today. If you have any questions about, or problems with PeopleBrowsr, please don’t hesitate to contact me, or @PeopleBrowsr on Twitter.

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