Sail is a new App.net OS X client from indie developer Keith Smiley. Let’s take a moment to highlight the fact that this developer is not from the hot bed of innovation in California, but South Carolina. +1 for home state geeks!
While the directory for App.net clients continues to grow, Smiley took a different approach and created an app just for posting. We can all agree that even with the best intentions the timeline has a sneaky way of sucking you in. Goodbye productivity. Now I know Sail is not totally unique in its approach – Snabb – but I have only used Sail. So taking inspiration from a wonderful Twitter client, Wren, Smiley set out to achieve distraction free posting to App.net. He has accomplished that with Sail.
Sail is simple and straight forward. Compose, post and you are done. The app’s small window only has the character counter and a post button. You do not get more minimalistic than that. With specialized features hidden or removed completely, Sail allows you to focus on your post and get back to your work. And for those times when your muse stops by you can open numerous compose windows to capture every clever thought. Sail also allows you to post to multiple App.net accounts and crosspost to Twitter. See, I told you it is the little app that can.
With Sail only being version 1.0.4 at the time of this review it has just started to find itself. So this means there will surely be lots of new features added as users share feedback. Not to mention the constantly evolving App.net platform. Some things that would add to my experience with Sail would be a larger compose window, or at least the ability to adjust the size. App.net’s (awesome) character limit of 256 characters really allows for your thoughts to breath. Sail’s compose window should as well. Another way to better sync with the App.net network is auto completion of usernames. Either pulling from a list of recent interactions or at least those you follow.
Now my next group of feature requests are a little tougher to ask for because they directly conflict with the simplistic interface I already love. Sail offers the ability to add inline URLs through markdown formatting. Chalk it up my rudimentary knowledge of markdown, but a button to attach a link would be nice. I also blame the iOS app Felix for spoiling me on the feature and how it handles input. Inline links not only save on the character count, but they look so much cleaner. Wrapping up my wish list would be the ability to attach photos via App.net’s file hosting, a “save draft” button or a prompt to save when closing the window. Currently in Sail you save a draft via key command or a menu option.
Drafts are a driving force on how a social app stacks up for me. As an avid user of the Wren Twitter client, I really found the draft drawer helpful for capturing my thoughts in the moment, but holding them for the right time to post. Rate of interactions prove time and time again that my 3A.M. ramblings fall on deaf ears. If I want answers or feedback to a post best to save it for when my network is awake.
Sail is a welcomed addition the App.net family of third party clients. For me it fits perfectly into my daily workflow. I can keep sharing gems of the interwebs during my breaks in work. Instead of taking breaks from the App.net timeline for some work.
Sail is available in the Mac App Store for $2.99. Requires 10.8 or later and a 64-bit processor.
UPDATE: Damn this kid works fast! Sail has already pushed out version 1.1.1 and it addresses some of the requests I had. A new easier option for adding inline URLs and a “save to drafts” prompt when closing a window. Updates on the roadmap: image attachments, an adjustable window and auto completing usernames (That one is harder than you would think).
Disclosure: I received a beta version of Sail to review. I have since purchased the retail version.