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TweetDeck Hits The Web (Do You Give A Hoot?)

Many dedicated TweetDeck Users had tired some time ago of running a bulky, memory-hogging desktop application to control Twitter (and then other social streams) some time ago when web-based options such as Hootsuite became available. The folks at TweetDeck heard their cries, and Wednesday released its own long-awaited Web app. But there’s one thing that still rankles.

Currently in limited beta, the app is available on an invite basis. Request an invite here. A TweetDeck web app has been available in the Chrome Web Store since December, but this release adds the other major browsers with versions for Firefox and Safari currently live and support for Internet Explorer 9 and Opera following shortly.

The transition onto the web is pretty seamless, with the (maddening for some) insistence on putting white text on a black background still intact. In fact, this might be TweetDeck’s biggest usability shortcoming. After straining to read blocky white letters on an all-black background for a while you will feel blinded when you switch to something normal like Word or Gmail. But take this simple test: If you can read through the press release (including comments) in TweetDeck trademark colors and sign up for the beta on a form in those same colors without tears coming to your eyes you’ll be fine.

This is only one of the things that TweetDeck devotees love that everyone else seems to hate. The other is deck.ly, the TweetDeck service that allows users to send tweets over 140 characters. When you go over, other TweetDeck users can read the posts in full, everyone else gets a deck.ly link they won’t click on and will unfollow you for your insolence.

But those features are old hat for TweetDeck; what’s new? As a Web-app, the new TweetDeck can be accessed from any computer via url, making all of your columns with various searches, lists, merged streams containing multiple social streams (e..g. Twitter and Facebook updates from friends), etc. fully portable.

Using TweetDeck side-by-side with Hootesuite on the same browser on a MacPro, the TweetDeck app was found to be slightly more skittish, with scrolling occasionally being a little jerky. This is something sure to be worked out over time, as TweetDeck has always had one of the smoothest interfaces and (maybe it’s the black) seemed the more elegant client. So now with both services offering multiple social network stream support, url shortening, and now web-based apps, if not for the color schemes the casual user might have a hard time telling TweetDeck and Hootsuite apart.

TweetDeck does offer in-stream video and image embeds, with the images opening in a Mac-like pop-up without taking you out of the app, which is nice. Hootsuite offers in-app analytics and multiple team member access for power users — steps the TweetDeck team has not yet taken. But for many, the question of which is better is really black and white.

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