Twitter in Real-Time with TweetDeck’s User Stream Preview Client

TweetDeck User Stream Preview Client

Last week Twitter opened up the Twitter fire hose to two apps, TweetDeck and Echofon. As soon as I heard about it, I signed up to give TweetDeck’s user stream preview implementation a run for its money.

At first I was less than impressed. The All Friends column (all tweets sent by people you follow) looked nice and real time, and flowed reasonably fast with my set of follows. Most of my other columns were very slow to update, though; they’re mostly Twitter lists inserted into TweetDeck as columns. Even where the same tweet should have appeared in the All Friends column and one of those List columns at the same time, the list would always show a marked delay in getting it.

After playing around with it for a while I got a sense for what was happening. It looks like, at least in the current build that I’m using, Twitter list columns are actually still using the Twitter API limits, not the user stream.

Once that revelation struck me, I immediately started playing with other column types. I discovered that search columns are also real time, so I set up several searches using some of the top trending topics, and suddenly the experience was a lot more what I’d pictured in my mind – a very Matrix-like constant stream of incoming data. Probably too much data,but those columns WERE intended to show the stream at its most intense. (See video below!)

Since then I’ve spent the weekend using it in a more typical fashion, and I’ve just about forgotten that I’m experimenting with the user stream. That’s not a condemnation – in fact I see it as a testament to just how natural the experience of seeing Twitter this way really is. As more and more people get to use this with TweetDeck, Echofon or eventually other clients, the days of API call limits will become a distant unpleasant memory.


    • Bruce R. says

      Ok Gord Thanks!!! I can be slow, but not that s-l-o-w!!! I’m wondering how much computing power this thing will utilize?!?!?! BTW, is Gord short for Gordan? “B”

      • Profile photo of Gord McLeod says

        I haven’t looked at any detailed numbers or benchmarks, but I haven’t noticed it feeling any slower than the normal TweetDeck API-based client.
        Gord is short for Gordon. :) It’s a common abbreviation in Canada, though you’re far from the first American (I assume?) who has asked about it.

        • Bruce R. says

          Cool, thanks Gord. Your short name is much better than mine. Sometimes I’m called Bru, which is mistaken for ‘brew’, then people think I’m some kind of beer nut (not that theirs anything wrong with that). But thanks to the Family Guy Movie, I’m simply called “B” now…

  1. Bruce R. says

    Ok, I must be real stupid. But Jaime I’m 50, so I’m close to ‘your’ little brain freeze on this. As I said, I think I muse be stupid, is there a download of this yet. I read through the articles but couldn’t see info on availability or a download link. I’ll look again…… Thanks! “B”

  2. Profile photo of Gord McLeod says

    Another thing to keep in mind; you can pause the stream at any point by scrolling a column. New tweets will build up above the place you’re at, but the column itself won’t move again until you move it back to the top.

  3. Profile photo of Gord McLeod says

    Heh, yes, that’s true! But in real-world use you’ll rarely see it that way unless you want to. Check the description in article itself; those columns are almost all search columns targeting the top trending topics.

  4. Jaime Rivera says

    I’m only 32 but when I saw this video I felt I was 60. I was going crazy to see so many tweets flowing nonstop. How can anyone find that useful? I don’t think anyone can read that much stuff so quickly.