Beak, a fantastic Twitter client from Mike Rundle

John Gruber made an excellent point in his piece called “Twitter clients are a UI design playground“. The excellent point I’m talking about is made apparent within the very title of the piece. That Twitter (I’m @cdevroe, btw) is an excellent playground for designing UIs for third party clients.

Mike Rundle, whom I had the extreme pleasure of working with at 9rules, is – and I have absolutely no reservations about saying this out loud – one of the very best designers I will ever work with. He also doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty with regards to programming. And he’s done just that with Beak – his foray into developing software for the Macintosh (which is, I think, exactly what he should be doing).

Beak is a simple, yet relatively full-featured Twitter application for the Macintosh that has Mike’s visual tastes dripping all over it. The icons in the application, as an example, could be picked out as Mike’s work from a hundred yards.

The Beak UI

One of the differentiators that Beak has going for it, over any of the other Twitter applications I’ve used for the Mac, is the “Stats” tab. Mike chose to use the URL shortener, which has a nice, clean, simple API, that allows him to show the number of click thrus on a URL that you’ve shortened from within Beak itself. I think this is both genius and handy. While Tweetie supports all of the URL shortening services I could ever want (and photo posting services too), it doesn’t support showing the statistics of those clicks nor does it even connect me to my account on said URL shorteners (neither does Beak, but at least I can easily check the stats tab).

There are several other nits that Mike has, no doubt pain stakingly [sic], poured over, refined, and included in the first version of this application. Profile pop-up boxes, in-line replies and retweets, and support for multiple accounts all seem like things that someone who was taking the easy way would have left out.

This is still “beta” software people. But I’m very much looking forward to what Mike ends up with before hitting 1.0 and even more looking forward to seeing what he does for his next trick in the world of Mac applications.