Bccthis: Twitter Better

Like 19 million other people out there, I use a micro-blogging service called Twitter. Unlike 75% of them, though, I use it a lot, meaning just about every day. I tweet things that I find online, what I made for dinner, haikus, ruminations on the weather, and upcoming events I’ll be attending. A lot of supposedly “hardcore” Twitterers will say that they are addicted to Twitter, but I don’t think they understand what that really means. If I think of something witty or take a picture of something interesting out in the real world, I need to find a computer and update Twitter fairly soon. If I can’t, well, that’s when the shaking and the cold sweats start.

Since I don’t have one of those fancy new cellular smartphones (my cell phone is so old it’s got a rotary dial), I have to use a computer to spread my inanity. I started, like most users, with the Twitter website (twitter.com), which is cumbersome and requires you to load a new page whenever you want to see you mentions, direct messages, and lists. After a few months, I moved on and began exploring Twitter desktop clients, webmail plugins, and online alternatives. These provided more functionality, but ultimately I could never get into them. They were, for the most part, hit-and-miss. Some had greater functionality than other, but were lacking when it came to the interface. Others had a great layout but were completely missing even the most basic features. Eventually, I would end up back at Twitter.com, feeling dejected. Forlorn, even.

Let me cut to the chase; if I had the programming knowledge to create my own perfect Twitter client, it would look and perform just like Bccthis. It provides the same functionality that their laudable Outlook plugin does, but also functions as its own stand-alone Twitter client, and stands strong.

bccthis

The main feature that Bccthis developed is the ability to send out tweets with an additional message tacked on that only certain followers will see. In essence, you’re giving a select group of people an aside that the main audience can’t hear (or read). For example, I can tweet something like “I just ate dinner with some friends at Sushi-Hana. It was great!” and then I can attach a note in Bccthis that says “Josh totally didn’t pay his fair share. Kick him in the shin next time you see that jerk.” As long as I don’t include Josh’s Twitter name in the Bccthis list, he’ll receive his punishment and won’t have a clue who masterminded it. And if any of the people you’re bcc-ing don’t use Bccthis, that’s okay; a direct message is sent to them with the hidden message content in it, along with the original message.

Aside from this feature, which is incredibly useful, there is the matter of the layout. The interface is a 3-column design that is packed with useful features. You’ve got the normal Twitter links to your mentions and favorites, but there are also links to your direct message (DM) inbox, DM outbox, BccThis messages box, lists you’ve created, subscribed lists, trending topics, and support.

Aside from the BCC message box link, which takes you to your main Bccthis dashboard, everything else loads in-line, meaning that you don’t have to wait for a whole new page to load up when you want to check your mentions (which most users do frequently). Next to the search bar, lists, and trending topics, there are handy refresh buttons, and photos from TwitPic (the most popular way to share pictures on Twitter) can be viewed within a tweet.. Also, below the main Twitter content box, is an in-line URL shortener that inserts a shortened URL right into your message.

The design aesthetic is pleasant and the site’s colors make things easily readable without being bland. Bccthis might not win any awards for graphic design, but they’re also not distracting me from the content I came to see. Bccthis saves you time by keeping everything on the same page, while still somehow managing to not seem cluttered.

While reviewing Bccthis, I found myself wondering why seemingly simple features (like the URL shortener, in-line refresh functionality, and in-line photo-viewing) aren’t found in other Twitter clients. I can name a few that include one of these features, but Bccthis is the only one that has all of them. It’s not as if there’s not room on the screen, it just seems like the other developers lack the common sense, imagination, or motivation. When it comes to features, I can think of nothing that Bccthis left out. It just makes other Twitter clients pale in comparison.

I could continue to gush about Bccthis, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll simply say that if you’re not using Bccthis, you’re missing out on some great features and just not getting the most out of Twitter. Try it, love it, and spread the word.

Bccthis has regretfully but decidedly removed itself from the internet. Its passing came with nary a sound. Except that of the sad, lonely tears of the broken dream it became.