Category: Social Networking (Twitter client)
Requirements: Adobe AIR, 1MB of hard disk space, Twitter account
Compatibility: Universal (also cross-platform)
File Size: 1.0 Mb
Version Reviewed: 0.6.2
I’m not exactly sure why Spaz (operating off the Adobe AIR platform) has become my favorite desktop Twitter client. In terms of how it works, it’s nothing radical, resembling Twitterrific and several other programs. It shows your Twitter feed, has tabs to see your Direct Messages and @replies, both a search function for Twitter-at-large and a filter for the posts in your feed. All handy features, but nothing that several other programs use in an all-too-familiar layout.
Why, then, do I keep coming back to Spaz? It certainly isn’t the name. I think it’s because of all the small elements that make the program easy to use and a pleasure to look at. As an open-source program that’s not even at a 1.0 release yet, Spaz shows in many subtle ways that a lot of thought has gone into making this program pleasant on the senses. The default interface (“Spaz”) is a mixture of dark and creamy colors with the posts printed in a serif font. The first few times I used it, something about the layout bugged me. I figured out what it was: it was easy to read. So many of the clients focus on taking up as little space as possible, and one easy way to do that is by reducing the font size and using san-serifs. The “Spaz” layout, by contrast, takes just as much room as it needs to comfortably lay the type out.
There are three other layouts included (and if you’re comfortable manipulating CSS, you can alter the interface yourself), and those feel much more like a “standard” Twitter layout: “Spaz Mini” keeps the color scheme but fits as many posts as possible onto the screen by changing to a small, yes, sans-serif font with tiny pictures of the person posting. “Whitespace” is blindingly minimalist, and “Dumb Terminal” gives your Twitter feed a retro look by formatting the entire thing like an old computer monitor: green text on a black background, with each post preceded by the $: characters.
If space is a big concern for you, Spaz can also be set to automatically minimize and restore itself as you shift it to the background then bring it back to read. And you’ll know when you do get new messages because Spaz supports Growl, the Open Source notification program. And if you keep your Dock open, the Spaz icon can display a badge with the number of unread tweets, similar to the way Mail shows how many new messages you have.
Hidden away (Under the Spaz>> button in the top left corner) is a menu for sending direct messages and @replies, as well as a URL shortener that works with seven different services. And if you bring that up while you have a URL in your clipboard, it’ll automatically convert it and past the shortened URL back into the clipboard.
I can’t end this review without talking about one of my favorite Spaz features: the sounds. Whenever you get a new message or start the program, these delightful electronic notes play in the background. Normally, these kind of notifications are the first thing I turn off in a program, but with Spaz, they’re just so darn pleasant I can’t help but perk up when I hear them.
The only thing that’s really missing from Spaz is documentation, especially if you want to root around in the guts of the program and tailor it to your needs. The Spaz Wiki is helpful in some places, and in others…not so much. But that’s only if you’re interested in messing about with the CSS and such. For those who just want a beautiful, well-designed Twitter client (and free, to boot), Spaz is worth a look.