In a previous post, I mentioned that I was comparing two Adobe AIR-based Twitter clients, TweetDeck and Twhirl. I've used each for about a week as my primary basis for interaction with Twitter.

If anyone out there is interested or curious about these two Twitter clients, and judging by my staggering Google Analytic numbers there are at least 2 of you, here's a general rundown.

Application Purpose
This might seem like a superfluous section but, really, it isn't. One of the key differences between TweetDeck and Twhirl is intent. TweetDeck serves a single purpose: interaction with Twitter. On the other hand, Twhirl is designed to be used with up to 5 social networks/micro-blogging services (several of which I am not familiar): Twitter,,, FriendFeed, and Seesmic. It also connects to TwitPic, which allows you to upload photos to  share on Twitter.

In general, I prefer applications with a singular purpose and am inclined to give the edge to TweetDeck. However, in a world where we active Internet/web users have an increasing number of accounts at similar services, Twhirl's ability to let you connect to and interact with other micro-blogging services gives it a slight edge.

With that in mind, if you're looking for an application to handle multiple micro-blogging clients, Twhirl is the better choice since TweetDeck doesn't event offer this option.

Edge: Twhirl

General Function
Both applications work incredibly well, in my opinion. Tweets, replies, retweets, and direct messages are simple and straightforward. Both applications keep track of Twitter API usage and allow you to set how much you use the API via their respective settings panels.

A fun and interesting feature in both is that they keep track of Twitter's "health." TweetDeck's status indicator is omni-present at the bottom of the application. Twhirl's indicator is via a tiny icon at the bottom right of the application, which, when mouses over, shows API usage and health of Twitter.

Also in the realm of functionality (in my mind) is performance. Both applications have been excellent. They open quickly for me (MacBook Pro 2.33 GHz, 3 GB RAM, 667 MHz Front-Side Bus) and are quite responsive.

Tweets themselves are posted fast (assuming Twitter's health is good) and a slight edge goes to Twhirl here. In Twhirl, you can see your tweet immediately. In TweetDeck, you need to wait for the application to refresh and get your tweets. Pretty minor but still a slight edge for Twhirl.

In both applications, shortening URLs is built in. TweetDeck has a bit of an edge here because the form to add a URL for it to be shortened is part of the Tweet form. In Twhirl you need to press an extra button to get the shorten URL option/form. Not bad, just an extra step that I am too lazy to take :).

Edge: Even

User Interface
This is a tough call because both applications are well designed and, overall, easy to use.

In terms of the application layout, TweetDeck is more flexible. With TweetDeck, a user can view their Tweets in a single or multiple column format. The single column layout just shows your tweets. The multicolumn layout, however, can be customized to add columns dedicated to show replies and direct messages. It's a nice separation of "normal" tweets from replies and direct messages that does not require any one of the three types to be closed or out of view. The replies and direct messages columns can be reordered by simply clicking the Move Left and Move Right buttons under each column.

TweetDeck's icons are clearly labeled and transparent (in terms of what they do). TweetDeck also makes excellent use of space, expanding form areas as requested (by clicking on a button, such as the button for "Tweet"). In addition, actions for tweet responses (replying, retweeting, direct messages) are all readily available from within each tweet.

TweetDeck can also be resized quite easily; choosing from full-screen, normal and custom sizes.

For the look and feel (color scheme, that is), you're stuck with what TweetDeck gives you: a charcoal grey/black background with white text. It's actually quite nice and easy to read but not something to alter (so far as I know).

Twhirl is, to me, does not have as usable an interface as TweetDeck. The application window is quite small and the space feels a bit cramped. You can, however, expand the size of Twhirl but it doesn't affect the cramped feeling one gets using it.

While you can expand the size of the application to increase the tweet form and actual tweets, all buttons are tiny icons without labels. The icons are outfitted with very responsive tooltips (show up fast) and relatively clear in what they do, however, some are not as inherently clear to me and I spend time hovering over them a fair amount. That said, I'm confident with extensive usage this would not be an issue for many.

One area where Twhirl excels is the customizable color schemes. The drawback, however, is that it's not clear where this is. One would assume that you could make such a change from the Visual tab in the application's settings dialogue. This is not the case. You actually have to open the settings dialogue, then select Open Accounts, to get to the various pre-built color schemes you can alter.

Edge: TweetDeck

I must say that after a week of using each, it's pretty tough to pick one over the other, since both are excellent applications. Ultimately, I've chosen to go with TweetDeck as my day-to-day Twitter client. The better application layout and more intuitive (for me) buttons and UI were the final selling points.

I do plan to keep Twhirl on my system in the event that I want to start Tweeting photos, as well as to keep track of its evolution (despite my not selecting it as my day-to-day Twitter client, it's an awesome little app!).

Final: TweetDeck

While my final choice was TweetDeck, you won't go wrong with either. Since they're small applications (in terms of the footprint on your system), try them both out and see what you like better. Happy Tweeting!

P.S. Just found a great iPhone application for Twitter: TwitterFon. I was using Twitteriffic but it's slower, more cumbersome to use, cramped, and shows ads. The performance boost from TwitterFon makes it the better application for me but getting rid of the ads and the occasional pop-up asking me to buy Twitteriffic's premium app is an added bonus for TwitterFon.