If you're a heavy TweetDeck user—we are bloggers, and thus, we are heavy TweetDeck users—you might've noticed that notifications got way crappier this week. It turns out, it's not Twitter's fault, it's Google's. Hmph.
If you use TweetDeck's Google Chrome extension, you would've noticed the change immediately when it switched over because it's so much worse. Previously, notifications showed the entire tweet styled as a block that you could configure to pop up in your preferred corner of the screen. The new notifications are boring and decidedly less useful strips of text banished to the top right corner. Compare the before and after in this image.
Notwithstanding the content of the sample tweets, you can clearly see that the old style on the left is way more useful. Not only do the notifications on the right not show you an avatar—they don't even show you the entire tweet. And lets not under-estimate the utility of configuring where they're popping up—when every other notification is in the top right, it's nice to be able to put some in another place. Or at least, that's how I used them.
So yeah, worse. What happened?
Well, it turns out it's all a result of changes in the Chrome software. I tweeted my discontent at @TweetDeck, and an engineer responded that the old notifications were depreciated in the new version of Chrome.
For a further explanation, let us turn to the April 15th entry on the Google Chrome Developers page on Google+:
With the release of the M28 developer channel of Chrome, we are officially deprecating HTML-based notifications for Chrome Extensions in favor of the new Rich Notifications Chrome API. Developers that are using HTML notifications should migrate to the newer Rich Notifications API, as support for the existing createHTMLNotification() feature will stop working in a future release of Chrome.
In other words, those richly-styled notifications you used to love? No longer supported. But remember how it was Google's fault? It's not Google's fault! It's the fault of the monolithic World Wide Web Consortium. From Google+, ibid:
Why the change? When the W3C introduced the web notifications API, they originally specified two flavors: plain text notifications and richer HTML-based ones. The W3C has since removed the HTML option from the spec.
Now, none of this would mater if Twitter was still actively developing its desktop application. Oh wait, it's killing that too.