TweetDeck vs Nambu vs Tweetie

I've become quite attached to Twitter lately, as several of my blog posts will attest. I use it for a wide range of things; a source of news (technical and non-technical), to chat with friends and share things I find of interest, to ask and answer questions on Macs, Ruby on Rails, etc. and finally to banter about my favorite sports teams (Redskins and Caps, thank you very much).

Given this wide range of uses I tend to be accessing my Twitter feeds throughout the day and the web interface simply doesn't handle things the way I need it to. As a result I use a custom client to access Twitter. A custom client presents Tweets in their own interface, accessing the data through the Twitter API. You drop in your Twitter username and password and the custom client takes over from there, presenting you with a view of your Tweets and the ability to create them as well.

Over the last few months I've tried a number of different Twitter clients for my Mac. First it was TweetDeck, an Adobe Air based client that does a great job of breaking Tweets up into separate and configurable panels. Next I tried Nambu, a native Mac OS X application that showed some real promise. Nambu leveraged many of the same UI elements that TweetDeck did, but it was packaged into a much more Mac style application. Finally Tweetie was released for Mac recently. A popular iPhone Twitter client, Tweetie has a graceful interface that puts a different look and feel on Twitter than TweetDeck and Nambu do. Each of these applications has strengths and weaknesses, which I will try to identify below.


Strengths: Multiple panels that can be customized and filtered. Ability to create a search panel that persists between sessions. Can auto-complete user names when composing Tweets and addressing to people. Group support. Can also update FaceBook status.

Weaknesses: Uses a lot of memory. User Interface looks odd next to other Mac applications. Can leak memory (though that is reportedly fixed). Font size cannot be set and panels cannot be resized; you only have two sizes for panels. Only supports a single Twitter account.

Summary: TweetDeck is great for people that follow a large number of folks and want to break up their Tweets into custom groups. If you can get over the fact that TweetDeck does not look like a native OS X application it's a nice Twitter client and is used by an extremely large number of people. It includes lots of little niceties to make creating, replying and ReTweeting posts very simple.

I like that I can click on a person in a list and quickly see their profile and that each Tweet contains virtually all of the information available. Want to know what a Tweet is in reply to? Click the " reply to..." text on a Tweet and it loads up the original Tweet in your web browser.

The reason I started looking around at other clients after I had been using TweetDeck for so long was the fact that I wanted something that actually looked like a Mac application. That and the memory leaks in TweetDeck meant you couldn't leave it running for days at a time without it continually chewing into your memory pool. Even with these issues it is a very capable Twitter client.


Strengths: Native Mac application. Has three different view styles including the panel view that TweetDeck uses. Auto-complete for user names when writing a Tweet. Remembers any panel or search you create so that it can be called up later. Ability to create groups of users. Multiple account support.

Weaknesses: In beta and it shows; memory is burned up quickly and Nambu requires restarts fairly often (daily). The pop-up menus within a Tweet and user profiles can take a very long time to display. Not all of the details on a Tweet (like what it is in reply to) are available.

Summary: I like that Nambu gives me so many viewing options, allowing me to tailor it to meet my needs—and screen real estate demands—very well. The fact that I can control (to a degree) the size of the font means I can squish a lot more Tweets into a single page with Nambu than I can with TweetDeck. It also does something that TweetDeck does not do right now: update the Dock Bar image with the number of unread Tweets.

It's pretty clear that Nambu will strive to be a one-stop social networking application. Though it is disabled in the current beta there are placeholders for FriendFeed, and If your goal is to keep everything on the social side in one place then Nambu may have an answer for that in the long run.

Nambu is still a relatively young application and it shows in performance and stability. Once Nambu matures a bit, the memory leaks are fixed and the menu performance improves it will be a strong contender to virtually any of the tasks people use TweetDeck for now.


Strengths: Native Mac application. Extremely stable and quick, very resource efficient. User interface is very powerful, especially for navigating across "conversations". Keyboard friendly for nearly all navigation and input. Tear off search windows provide great flexibility. Multiple account support.

Weaknesses: Doesn't provide user name auto-complete. No support for Groups. Keyboard navigation within Direct Messages is quirky.

Summary: Tweetie for Mac is a completely different take on dealing with Twitter than either TweetDeck or Nambu. The level of polish and finish on Tweetie is immediately apparent and the smooth UI transitions and keyboard shortcuts make it easy to become comfortable quickly.

The inability to place people you follow into a group so that you can more quickly pick out their Tweets is a shortcoming, as is the fact that searches are not saved across sessions. The keyboard shortcuts simply stop working when you are in the Direct Message area and have replied to a message.

By far the most powerful part of Tweetie is the ability to navigate your way through conversations. If you see someone you follow respond to a person that you don't follow you can quickly jump to that string of Tweets. It makes reading Twitter feeds much more conversation friendly. Not only can you jump in but Tweetie maintains the context you are coming from so you can navigate your way back out to where you started.

Which one is best for you?
From a functionality standpoint TweetDeck and Nambu are on pretty equal footing. If you follow a large number of people that generate a lot of Tweets, you will appreciate the ability to break your key followers up into groups that you can monitor more easily. I've had people follow me on Twitter that have thousands—sometimes tens of thousands—of people THEY follow. Clearly no one can even use a Twitter timeline that contains that much traffic so that grouping and filtering feature both TweetDeck and Nambu have would be critical.

I'm hoping that once Nambu comes out of beta it's performance will pick up and the memory leaks will be eliminated. Until then TweetDeck is a lot more stable, though if you have multiple Twitter accounts Nambu is the better option.

If you don't follow a huge number of people and can get by without the group functionality then Tweetie is an outstanding Twitter client. The user interface is simply fantastic, looking and feeling like a native Mac application. It is currently available for $14.95 through May 4 ($19.95 after that). I am personally using Tweetie now; the other features have made me forget about the lack of groups and I don't really follow that many people.

The competition for Twitter clients is great for all of us. As the software developers keep innovating we will continue to get some really interesting options when it comes to working with Twitter. Keep in mind that this review of these applications was based on the state of them on April 27, 2009. Both TweetDeck and Nambu are listed as being in Beta. Updates can come quickly.

I've done some previous blog posts on both TweetDeck and Nambu that have more detailed information. If you want to learn more about Tweetie I highly recommend that you watch Don McAllister's excellent video tutorial on it.

Got a Twitter client you really like? Drop a note about it in the comments and share what you like and don't like about it.


Jon Sabino said...

Great review, the tutorial link alone was worth the read. I played around with Nambu a little and have been using Tweetie for the past few days at home. I didn't realize Tweetie was that powerful and have to play around with the keyboard shortcuts a little more. For most of my day though, my only choice is TweetDeck since I'm still relagated to only using Windows at work.

Since you've been on the Twitter kick lately, one thing you haven't mentioned/reviewed was what you use on your iPhone. In one of your older iPhone posts you mentioned you were playing aroud with Twitterific. Still using that? I've played around with everything that's free, and have settled in with TwitterFon for the past few months. I can't speak however to any paid apps, but if I like Tweetie, it would be nice to have the same app running on both my MacBook and iPhone. -Jon

Jeff said...

I would imagine that Tweetie will add group support at some point. It is being updated fairly often and I seem to recall reading that group support was one feature coming soon.

Also, Tweetie is free with ad support. The ads appear periodically and are not intrusive at all.

David Toub said...

I'm actually quite fond of twhirl. It is an Air application, like TweetDeck, which isn't necessarily a good thing. But it's versatile, fast, easy to navigate and stable. I've tried the others, including Tweetie (hate the name too), and found everything else lacking. I use Twitterfon on my iPhone and can't say enough about it. It's excellent.

David Alison said...

@Jon: I use TwitterFon as well on my iPhone, though now that I've become so fond of Tweetie I'll have to check that out.

@Jeff: I only played with Tweetie for a day or so before shelling out the $15 for it. You are correct, the ads were very unobtrusive but I'm a big believer in supporting the software developers that create things I use regularly.

David Fields said...

You didn't mention Event Box as a combined Twitter/Facebook client. Not saying it's any better or worse than you've reviewed, but it might be worth looking into for a later one.

Currently I use Nambu and Event Box both, since I've got two twitter accounts (one for my website and one for general discussion) and while I think Nambu can handle multiple logins, I don't want the confusion of guessing which account I'm responding with.

Nigel said...

Great review.

One thing you didn't mention is that Nambu, unlike Tweetie, has Growl support.

William said...

I have been using Nambu without problems, although I don't follow that many people.

Keith Errington said...

I'd definately sugest checking out blogo from brainjuice - - it has a great built-in twitter client but also allows you to post to your blogs, facebook and more. I use it all the time and it saves having to run three or four apps to achieve the same thing.

Jeff said...

I'll probably purchase Tweetie soon, but it is nice to have an extended period of evaluation.

jbeardsley said...

One other thing I'd add to the weakness category on TweetDeck is the inability to set more than one filter condition in a column. It's nice to be able to set one, but I often want to be able to set more than one. And the filter conditions should persist between sessions. As it stands right now if you close TweetDeck, it forgets all your filter settings.
I haven't tried any of the other apps so they might suffer from similar issues.

Anonymous said...

I have heard about Seesmic more often lately. Advantage over TweetDeck is that it supports multiple accounts ("private vs. business")

Anonymous said...

is there a way for either of of these apps to require a password on launch?

jam&anne said...

tweetdeck someone uses many cpu resources.. i never tried the other two...

eddietec said...

Now Nambu is great... no more of 60 mb but TweetDeck still has a lot memory issues, it's not usable in this moment.


ticari programlar said...

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