Most of my software reviews, when dealing with Linux applications, tend to focus on programs for GNOME Linux. Truthfully, the only reason for this is because I don’t often have KDE installed, so for me to try out a KDE application, while not a lengthy process, typically involves installing a great number of KDE libraries. Still, in my search for a good desktop Twitter client a few weeks ago, I did try out Cardinal, which isn’t specifically a KDE client, but is one I’d never seen before. So I thought I’d write about it.
First, Cardinal uses the Qt libraries, so it should – in theory – work well no matter what Desktop environment is being used. From the Cardinal home page you can download a Windows binary installer or the source code. I’m able to compile from source, but if possible I like using a regular installer or finding a repository and in this case I did. After installation, Cardinal needs to get credentials from Twitter in order to use the new authorization system, and then we’re off.
What does Cardinal have to offer? A lot of what you’d expect from a good Twitter client. It supports multiple Twitter accounts, so if you have one for home and one for work, Cardinal can deal with that. You can perform Twitter searches right from the toolbar; the results appear in a new tab and are not limited to only those you follow.
As well, you can save your searches and follow them, so if you want to get the latest gossip or news on a certain person or topic, you can. Similar to this is the ability to have all Tweets which mention you categorized together, so you can read about… yourself!
Along with the multiple account support comes an option – while posting an update – to either post to a single account, or to post to all of them at once. Generally, I’m assuming, you would want to keep your updates specific to a particular account, but if you’re going away on a vacation or otherwise away from your account, I can see the value.
One of the nice things about many modern Twitter clients, and Cardinal is no exception, is a tabbed interface. While some Twitter clients have chosen to display different types of information (general timeline, direct messages, mentions, searches), all in different windows or columns, Cardinal accomplishes the same but with different tabs all in a single window. This way your interface footprint remains small, while not sacrificing on the wealth of information you have at your fingertips.
Interestingly, and this would be beneficial if you’re away from your Twitter (and therefore unable to view any new updates), Cardinal allows you to view updates by filtering those that arrived during the day and those that arrived at night. So if you wake up in the morning (or come home from a day at the office), you can view everything that happened while you were away. It’s a pretty convenient feature, and not one I’ve seen on any other client.
Only one thing really bugged me about Cardinal. Since they use a tabbed interface, it would have been nice if actually posting a new update could be accomplished in the main window. Instead, Cardinal spawns a smaller window designed for your post, which then disappears when you post it. It’s fine, I guess, but I feel other clients – which create a temporary window inside the main one in order to post your own update – do this in a little more integrated manner.
There are a few features missing from Cardinal, compared to other clients. If you need to post a URL in a Tweet, it can often take up the bulk of your 140 characters. Other Twitter clients I’ve used have a built-in feature where that URL is automatically shortened using is.gd or bit.ly or some other URL shortening service. Cardinal doesn’t offer that, so you need to do the shortening yourself. Similarly, there is no photo uploading capabilities, another nice feature other clients have integrated.
Still, Cardinal isn’t a bad program. It’s nice and fast, and doesn’t seem to use up a lot of system resources. The Cardinal website mentions this as a product of not displaying messages with fancy themes using HTML rendering, instead choosing a plain text approach. And so Cardinal maybe doesn’t have the visual flair of other clients, but it is fast. And in spite of not being a “native” GNOME client, it does fit in well with the desktop. So if you’re a Linux user looking for a Twitter client that’s simple and fast, Cardinal is well worth a look.