Dribbble On Your Desktop with Play by Play

Posted by | December 28, 2011 | Apps | No Comments

Dribbble is a delightful little online community specifically created for designers to share bite-sized previews of what they’re working on. Each “shot” is a 400px by 300px image that a user has chosen to share with the Dribbble community, often for the purpose of feedback (and a little showing off here and there).

Whether or not you’ve scored an invite to participate in the exclusive community, it’s a great place to stop by and browse for loads of gorgeous visual inspiration. Today we’ll be taking a look at the Dribbble community through the eyes of Play by Play, an awesome new Mac application that lets you check out all the latest Dribbble action without venturing into the browser (and without having an account). Let’s see if the app lives up to its awesome icon.

Meet Play by Play

Play by Play is an app designed in the increasingly popular Twitter for Mac style, which uses a dark, icon-filled sidebar next to a main content stream (see also Sparrow, Raven, Reeder, and others).

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Play by Play

If you think about it, modeling this app after Twitter’s makes perfect sense. Dribbble is a lot like Twitter in the early days, only instead of sharing tiny written thoughts, you use share pieces of art and design.

Basic Controls

The main area on the right shows your timeline of content, pulled from your selected category on the left. Each shot shows a visual preview along with the the counts for view, likes and comments.

Every shot in the feed shows up as unread by default. This is indicated by the little page fold at the top right of the item. Once you click on a shot, the fold will disappear, indicating that it is now marked as read.

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Basic Controls

On the bottom you can quickly mark all the items in the feed as “read” or jump to the next unread item. The Dribbble logo on the top right will open the Dribbble site in your browser.

Navigation

Play by Play gives you quick access to all your favorite sections of the Dribbble website via the sidebar on the left. Admittedly, even though the icons are fairly attractive, they’re a little vague and difficult to decipher. Here’s another shot with the category names added:

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Sidebar Categories

As you can see, the checkmark takes you to a stream of content from only those users that you have elected to follow. This is similar to your primary timeline on Twitter.

Next up is the little sports play illustration. This takes you to your Activity feed, where you can get a quick look at which of your shots has been commented on, liked, etc. This is similar to the “Connect” or “@” section on Twitter.

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Activity, Popular and Everyone

The next three sections are Popular, Everyone and Debuts, which are pretty self explanatory. Popular shows the content that’s been getting the most attention, this is a great place to find new people to follow, Everyone is a real-time feed of all Dribbble uploads, and Debuts are initial shots from new users.

Taking a Closer Look

All of the screenshots above show Play by Play’s simple, contracted view. This shows you a small preview of each shot in your selected stream. However, if you want a closer look at a specific item, simply click on it to expand the web view.

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Web View Drawer

You can use the web view to see all the relevant information relating to a shot such as its author, upload date, views, comments, etc. You can also use this view in the Activity feed to see the item that’s being discussed.

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View shots from your Activity feed

Interaction

In the web view, you can accomplish all of the Dribbble interaction that you would normally go to the site for. You can “like” a shot, follow new users, leave comments, run a search; it’s all here!

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Like, follow, comment and more right from the app.

Worth a Download?

To be honest, I didn’t really think that I had any need for a Dribbble Mac app. The site is quite good and I enjoy stopping by once per week or so to see what’s new. However, as soon as I began using Play by Play, I fell in love with Dribbble all over again.

This really is a stellar way to keep a watch on this awesome community and actively participate. There’s something about having a constant stream of inspiration on your desktop that keeps your mind fresh and pushes you to be a better designer.

Play by Play isn’t without its faults. As I mentioned, the icons are a little vague and take some getting used to, but my two primary complaints are much more important. First of all, there’s no shortcut to my own profile in the sidebar. This seems like a pretty big oversight, but the fix is easy so hopefully something like this is in the works.

Most annoying however is the thirty shot limit in any given stream. When you scroll down to the bottom of the timeline, you expect the app to load more items, as with Twitter. However, despite the wealth of available content on Dribbble, this app refuses to load anything beyond thirty shots at once.

I poked around the Dribbble API a bit to see if this is actually an official limit imposed on developers, but as far as I can tell, that isn’t the case (if you know otherwise, leave a comment).

Aside from these issues, Play by Play is the best use I’ve seen of the Dribbble API and is definitely my new favorite way to view and interact with the Dribbble community.

What Do You Think?

At a mere $2.99, I think Play by Play is worth every penny. Much like Twitter, it seems that Dribbble is a network that becomes much more accessible and interesting with native apps and I look forward to seeing this category grow.

Give Play by Play a shot and let us know what you think in the comment section below. Have you tried any other great Dribbble apps? We want to hear about them!