Sobees bTittleTattle: The First FriendFeed Desktop App (but I can’t recommend it)
Note: I grappled with myself whether I should write this review or not – to be blunt – I’m less than impressed with bTittleTattle. However, as you read this review, keep in mind that this is a work in progress and the developer, Francois Bochatey has already let us know that he is planning on changing a few things I will mention here. Let’s call this review an exercise in constructive criticism.
A lot of us FriendFeed (FF) addicts have been waiting patiently for a FF desktop app. Most of the hype (thanks to a report on TechCrunch) has been about the Adobe AIR based Alert Thingy, which should be released to the public any day now.
Let’s get right to the point – this is not a very good app. It does show what can be done with the FF API, but I can’t recommend you install it at this point. (Though if you insist, here is the link to the download).
bTittleTattle (what bad name to begin with) is Windows only. It works on XP and Vista, but if you don’t have Vista SP1 installed, it is very slow and unresponsive.
- bTT works as advertised. You can see what happens in your Friendfeed stream, comment, like etc. – everything you can do on the site, except for posting new entries yourself. However, in my opinion it neither does a good job of mimicking the functionality of the site, nor extending it in any useful way.
- bTT is a pretty app – no doubt about it. It comes with three themes.
However, one of them is almost unusable – the Green theme has a bee (Sobees – get it?) flying around the app that gives you tooltips – cute but utterly useless (and reminds me too much of that talking paperclip…).
The red theme is better, but, well – it’s red and pink…
The white theme is the most functional one and the most reminiscent of the design of the FF website.
- bTT presents you with a list of recent activities in your stream – but it doesn’t tell you if there are likes, comments etc. on an item. To see those, you have to hover your mouse over the post and the commenting pane slides out on the right with all the comments, likes etc. I would much rather see this right in the interface as I will oftenscan my FF stream for just these items.
It makes for a pretty interface, but isn’t very useful
- One can’t really resize the windows besides a proportional resize where the height and width gets changed at the same time. Problem here is, that, even though you can resize the text, this makes sure that there is always a very limited amount of information available in the pane. I get more useful information and better presented information when I just go to the FF website.
- One of the main features of FF on the web is that it promotes items back to the top of your stream if they have comments or ‘likes’ – bTT doesn’t seem to do this. It is strictly organized by chronology. That is simply not very useful. At least there should be an option to change this or to filter out items with recent discussions.
- Related to this – far too large a chunk of the app is taken up by the interface. If you look at the bottom of the screenshot, you can see the sliders that control text size and the size of the individual boxes for items. It’s really more of a widget than an full-featured app in this respect.
That’s a lot of wasted real estate, especially for an app that already displays very little information and that is based on a site with a very minimalist design philosophy.
- Filtering by Friends seems a bit funky. It seems to allow you to filter by those friends whose items are actually currently showing in the window. Not very useful at all.
- bTT is a bit of a resource hog – after just a few minutes, it already uses 60mb.
At this point, you are simply better off keeping a browser tab or window with the FF page loaded than running this app.
I’m sure the developers will keep working on it and I will have a look at it again as it in the future. At this point, I simply hope that Alert Thingy is going to be a lot better than this effort.
Update: Steven Hodson just published his review of bTT over on FriendFeedWatch – looks like his opinion is similar to mine and he has already uninstalled the app as well:
If this was an exercise is showing off some of the cool things that developers can do with WPF and .NET then sure I would say they partially achieved their goal but in the long run as a full time usable FriendFeed client – well let me put it this way – it’s already in the recycle bin.