A few months ago, Twitter upgraded its API to Version 1.1. Normally, that techie-lingo doesn’t mean too much to us non-developers, but for those of us who regularly attend Twitter parties and chats, it has had a huge effect on how we attend Twitter parties.
The most noticeable change is the disappearance of one of the most popular Twitter aggregator programs: TweetGrid. As of now, TweetGrid has not completed an upgrade to v. 1.1, making it unusable. The program’s creator has left open the possibility that it might upgrade down the road, perhaps even for a small user fee. Many are waiting with fingers crossed.
So what are Twitter party and chat attendees to do? Fortunately, there are options out there that do work with the new API.
First, there are a couple of easy-to-use programs that operate in a single-column format. One is Twubs.com. Visit the Twubs website and plug in the hashtag you wish to follow. You can sign in either with Twitter authentication or by signing up for a free Twubs.com account. If the host of the party you are attending has set up a custom Twubs page (and many of them are now doing this), you not only get the benefit of being able to follow a chat and tweet from the same page, but also the host’s tweets will appear separately from the other tweets and will remain at the top of the page — so you can keep an eye specifically on the host’s tweets while following the entire conversation as it unfolds below. Once logged in, the hashtag automatically will be added for you to each tweet you send, so you won’t need to worry about retyping it in each tweet.
A similar program that hit the Twitter chat scene this year is tchat.io (http://www.tchat.io). This program has a sleek interface that makes it easy to tweet, retweet, favorite and follow a chat all from the same page. Like Twubs, tchat.io is also web-based; you can log in with your Twitter account and tweet directly from your hashtag’s page and the hashtag you enter once will automatically be added to each tweet you send thereafter. We’ve tested it out and tchat.io updates all tweets very quickly — sometimes more quickly than Twitter. The downside? The single-column format doesn’t allow any highlighting of the host’s tweets. (However, tchat.io’s developer is considering adding a multi-column function down the road).
TweetChat.com has also made a comeback by switching to v1.1 after a brief haitus. Like Twubs and tchat.io, the long-running, web-based aggregator TweetChat also lets you log in with your Twitter account and auto-populates your tweet with the hashtag you input at login. It also has a User Control area to help you block spammers, as well as ‘Smart Pausing’ that allows you to stop the tweets from pouring in, which makes it easy for users to scroll down, catch up and reply to specific tweets.
If you love the multi-column format that TweetGrid used to offer, we suggest logging into TweetDeck via your Chrome browser. In TweetDeck, you can create as many columns as you want, follow a specific user or hashtag, and see replies to you and DM’s. It takes a little work to set it up to get it just the way you want it, but if you loved TweetGrid, this might be the application for you. To add a column, just click on the “+” sign in the left sidebar. It will then ask you what type of column you want: to follow a user, your messages, or your timeline. To create a column for a hashtag, you have to select “Search,” then type in the hashtag with the “#” sign in front (such as: #Hashtag). Then click “add column” at the bottom of the column, and away you go! Want to follow two hosts? Create a new column by selecting “Search.” Then, type something like the following, the way TweetGrid used to set it up: From:Host1 OR From:Host2 — that way you’ll capture tweets in a single column from both hosts of a party. The downside of using TweetDeck? You have to type in the hashtag each time, if you want to send a tweet directly from the TweetDeck interface.
Finally, you can always search for a hashtag from Twitter itself, by inputting the tag into the Twitter ‘search’ bar. Whenever new tweets are ready to load, you will be prompted by a gray bar that appears with a message such as “20 new tweets” that you will then have to click on. The constant clicking/updating can be cumbersome. Another downside is that you have to keep remembering to type in the hashtag in each tweet you send–something that might be hard to do, if you are a rapid, prolific tweeter.