Meet Brizzly, My New Twitter Client

November 2nd, 2009 44 Comments

I have no idea what animal mashup this is supposed to be.I’m finally getting around to penning that post on Brizzly I’ve been threatening for a week.

Not that anyone noticed. It’s been eerily quiet in the comments lately.

Anyway, at OpenWorld, Rich turned me on to Brizzly and provided an invite. I’d heard about it over the Summer, but for whatever reason, it didn’t stick.

Oh, I know why; Brizzly is a web client for Twitter, which sounds pretty dull, considering that Twitter.com already exists so why would I need a web client?

Turns out Brizzly has done a lot of the things I wish Twitter.com had done, and frankly, Brizzly is the web interface that Twitter should have built for Twitter.com.

Beyond the feature set, I’m ready to ditch TweetDeck, not for lack of features, but because Adobe AIR uses way too many system resources. I’m happy with TweetDeck’s features and continue to use it on my iPhone, but the AIR client is just too much of a resource pig.

This is more an AIR problem, than a TweetDeck one.

So, what’s the big deal about Brizzly?

Brizzly showcases some great interface design, which shouldn’t be terribly surprising considering that¬†Jason Shellen, formerly of Blogger and the founding PM for Google Reader, is one of the founders of Thing Labs, the company behind Brizzly.

Shellen’s influence has brought a lot of thoughtful, Reader-esque features to Brizzly, making it much easier to consume a stream of tweets. I’ll hit the features I like best individually.

Links, media resolved inline
Brizzly resolves shortened links and shows media (definitely pictures and video, not sure about sound files) inline, which is a huge feature.

Aside from the whole “breaking the Internet” problem, shortened links lead to blind clicking in that you have no idea what’s behind them. Brizzly resolves the link to show the original URL.

In addition, if someone shares a video or a picture, Brizzly includes the content inline for viewing, something we included in our most recent redesign of Connect. It’s so much more convenient to stay on the same page, rather than bouncing all over the place. Not to mention that this keeps the focus on the stream of tweets, rather than fracturing my attention.

Navigational improvements
Brizzly has a couple thoughtful navigational features that I really appreciate: infinite scrolling and keyboard shortcuts.

Infinite scrolling is huge. What do I mean? Sites like Connect, Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook all have long pages of activity, and when you reach the bottom of the page, you’re presented with a pager (old school) or a “load more” function.

Brizzly just keeps loading tweets as you reach the end of what they’ve fetched. So, you never have to signify that you want more content; it just appears, after a short fetch. Don’t be surprised if this soon becomes the de facto standard.

I’ve documented my love for keyboard shortcuts in the past. I love them in Reader and on Connect, and Shellen has brought this feature to Brizzly.

It’s surprisingly productive to navigate through a bunch of tweets using keyboard shortcuts and infinite scrolling.

The rest
Brizzly also has the features you’d expect from a good Twitter client–groups, multiple account support, saved searches and trends.

With the release of Twitter Lists, I wonder how groups will be handled. Brizzly’s groups are limited to five with a cap on members at 50. A bit odd, but I assume it’s a scalability concern. Every Twitter client with groups will face an interesting problem with Lists though, not just Brizzly.

Brizzly also auto-shortens links and supports a Twitter picture client, not sure which one.

Saved searches are very handy. I used #oow09 quite a lot during OpenWorld.

Brizzly also shows the current trending topics, along with an explanation about why a topic is trending. It also adds a crowdsourcing element, allowing you to explain why a keyword or phrase is trending.

Overall, I’m digging Brizzly, and it’s replaced TweetDeck completely. The one drawback is speed, but it’s still in invite-only beta so I assume this will improve.

Last week, Brizzly announced Facebook account support, but I’ve yet to see that appear in my account, not that I’m in a huge hurry. I hardly ever use Facebook and doubt that a client would increase that; I fiddled with TweetDeck’s integration for about a week before turning off the Facebook account.

I would like to see Facebook Connect or OpenID support though. I’m so over having a new account for everything.

Anyway, if you use Brizzly, what do you think? If not, I have a few invites. If you want one, drop a comment.

Update: I still have a few invites left, and there are several people in the comments who’ve offered to provide invites as well.


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44 Responses to “Meet Brizzly, My New Twitter Client”

  1. Dave Goldstick Says:

    AIR 2.0 Coming in first half of 2010: Multitouch, Audio Recording, Less of a memory hog: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/air_20_com…. This will dovetail nicely with the NYTimes & Apple Tablet.

  2. oraclenerd Says:

    i want one (invite) please!

    I seem to have more time on my hands these days so I can check out the next shiny object.

    were you seriously complaining about twitter's web interface up there? i don't like it much either of course, but it's the platform that's important isn't it?

  3. Jake Says:

    Yeah, I saw that, but honestly, I've never really stuck with RIAs. I prefer web apps, especially with good UI. I'm not sure RIAs will ever take off, much like wid/gadget platforms haven't.

  4. Jake Says:

    Invite on the way, and yes, twitter.com isn't very good. It *is* fast, but Brizzly is better. I get why they didn't invest in the web app, but here's a question: why can't we have IM back now that stability has been achieved? At least nominally. IM was the top client, after web, back in the day.

  5. David_C Says:

    Never heard of Brizzly, I am intruiged. Thanks for the heads up and would love an invite please. I have registered, so when i receive my invites, I will share with others.

  6. Puneet Thapliyal Says:

    Yes, invite for me too please. Thanks Jake.

  7. Jake Says:

    Sent to your oracle.com address.

  8. Jake Says:

    Sent to your yahoo.com address. Interested to hear your thoughts.

  9. Joe Dawson Says:

    I really like Brizzly and have used it consistantly since activating this week! I recommend highly, especially with the Facebook integration!

  10. Puneet Thapliyal Says:

    Gracias!

    Brizzly seems pretty nice. Wish it had a 'Compact' view, devoid of user images, pictures, videos, etc. I guess, I like the neutrality and minimalism that Google Reader presents.

  11. Jake Says:

    You mean the List view in Reader? Funny, I never use that view. There are plenty of compact Twitter clients; Tweetie comes to mind. Of course, so does IM :)

    I'm glad they focused on the big view, which is the one I want. I don't think Twitter would be half as useful w/o avatars.

  12. Jake Says:

    I wonder why my account doesn't have Facebook integration.

  13. tyturnbull Says:

    I'd love an invite as well…sounds like a great client to check out. Thanks for the review and for sharing!

  14. Amit Gawande Says:

    I have been using Brizzly for quite long now and it has replaced all my desktop applications. I am so in love with the Brizzly UI and features. One feature I like is the way scrolling happens only for the tweets and not for the navigation links. So they are always there all the times.

    Add to that the instant message like notification for DM and inline reply is so cool. Trends and news are pretty helpful and lets me know most of the time if something is really trending because of some reason or randomness at twitter. I never missed twitter lists because brizzly groups pretty much did the job even with its 5 groups per account limit. And now Facebook's stream is pretty clean too, it is all I need and the way I need.

  15. bowseat93 Says:

    Still have any invites left? I'd love one! Brizzly sounds like it has the features I liked in Firefox's Power Twitter plug-in, but hopefully without the drag in overhead.

  16. Jake Says:

    Sure, on the way. If you don't get one, let me know. Oddly, Brizzly's invite field doesn't support copy/paste, so I have to transcribe your email addresses, which isn't foolproof. Feel free to share your thoughts.

  17. Jake Says:

    Egad, another Brizzly user with Facebook. I wonder if I'm being left out on purpose; the fact that I don't have Facebook integration is actually making me want it more, even if I won't use it. Grrr.

    Agree that the persistent navigation elements are nice, and the way they handle DMs is elegant. One bummer is that the unread count doesn't seem to update if you read a DM using the widget view. Overall, it's a great interface for Twitter.

  18. Jake Says:

    Sent one your way. I haven't used a Firefox plug-in for Twitter in years, too much memory drag, so I can't compare. Frankly, I've converted to Chrome for everyday browsing. Feel free to share your thoughts.

  19. bowseat93 Says:

    Thanks!! So far, like it lots. Once they get lists integrated, will likely be my go-to platform for Twitter.

  20. Jake Says:

    Re. lists, I'm a bit bummed b/c I invested the time to create groups in Brizzly (and TweetDeck), so now, I'm hoping they can convert my groups to lists. Fingers crossed.

  21. gxg Says:

    there was an article some time ago that brizzly will support twitter lists, but no news since then.

    I also reviewed brizzly a month ago, it's my favorite twitter client:
    http://exde601e.blogspot.com/2009/09/brizzly-be

    If anyone wants, I can also send out invites. :)

  22. ncaitan Says:

    I recommend Brizzly. By far the best twitter experience. If you want an invite tweet or DM me at @ncaitan

  23. Jake Says:

    Excellent review, very concise. Like the egomaniac I am, I only covered the features I use and like :) Eventually, all the Twitter clients will have to support lists, but only the ones that filled that gaping hole in Twitter's functionality with groups will have a load of development work.

    Normalizing the client's groups with lists will be a fun process for developers.

  24. Jake Says:

    Great, thanks for chiming in with invites.

  25. Grant S Says:

    Hi Jake,

    Thanks for the post! I work on Brizzly at Thing Labs, and wanted to clear up a couple of things:

    1. The photo service we use is our own. We informally call it Brizzly Pics. Ex: http://brizzly.com/pic/4V9
    2. We will indeed soon be supporting Twitter's lists, allowing you to import Twitter lists into Brizzly and vice versa.

    And if anyone else needs an invitation, try out http://brizzly.com/signup?invite=grantsentme

    -Grant

  26. Jake Says:

    Thanks for commenting and good on ya for your work on Brizzly. I've only used the photo service once and obviously the guts behind it didn't stick. So, thanks for clarifying that. Glad to hear about lists, sounds like the right plan. I assume you'll relax the 5 groups/50 members limitations for importing lists?

    Did you release the Facebook integration yet? I don't see it. My number one request (not that you asked) is make it faster, followed closely by please-please-please support FB Connect and/or OpenID.

    Awesome work, keep on truckin.

  27. uvox Says:

    OK. I'll bite. I'd like one too please.

  28. Jake Says:

    On its merry way.

  29. Grant S Says:

    Yes, we'll have the same limitations as Twitter lists once we support them: 20 lists, 200 users per list.

    As for Facebook, sorry, I meant to mention that: yes, you should be able to add a Facebook account. Just go to Settings > Facebook and click “Add your Facebook account.” If you don't see that in your account for some reason, log out and log back in, then try again. If you still don't see it, let me know (I'm grant at thinglabs).

    Speed-wise: indeed, we're always looking for opportunities to make it faster. OpenID/Facebook Connect as a general login isn't on the roadmap, though we do use Connect to authenticate your Facebook account.

  30. rodreegez Says:

    hey, I've just set up an ubuntu machine and am looking for something akin to Tweetie on the Mac. Brizzly sounds like it might do all that and more?

    does anyone have a spare invite?

  31. Jake Says:

    Hmm, didn't know Twitter lists had limitations. Makes sense I suppose. Found the Facebook account setting, thanks. Bummed to hear you're not integrating another authentication mechanism. Seems easier for a new service, vs. managing credentials. Anyway, appreciate your input thanks.

    Update: Just read that lists can have up to 500 members.

  32. Jake Says:

    I run Ubuntu too, and although I've never really looked for a Twitter client, I'm sure there are some good ones out there. Anyway, Brizzly works great on the Chrome dev build. You didn't provide an email address, which I'll need to invite you.

  33. Kaz Says:

    great review – would love an invite!

  34. Jake Says:

    On its way, share your thoughts here if you like.

  35. Kaz Says:

    Thanks! : )

  36. uvox Says:

    I do like the “mute” option and the way it renders youtube videos inline.

  37. Jake Says:

    Agreed, there are a lot of nice interface enhancements that seem small until you go without them.

  38. uvox Says:

    Saved searches is another one. I can never remember what hastags, keywords, etc I used…

  39. Jake Says:

    Agreed, saved searches are huge for me, especially seeing when they're updated. Lots of good stuff in Brizzly.

  40. gxg Says:

    a new announcement from brizzly about the integration with lists:
    “brizzly: We're going to be converting your Brizzly groups to Twitter lists in a bit. Don't be scared. We'll update you when it's done. (about 1 hour ago from Brizzly)”

  41. Jake Says:

    Looks like it's finished now, nice work and very fast conversion. I <3 Brizzly.

  42. George M. Says:

    yap, same here! :)

  43. Jake Says:

    Looks like it's finished now, nice work and very fast conversion. I <3 Brizzly.

  44. George M. Says:

    yap, same here! :)

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