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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Instantbird: Mozilla based Pidgin.


It seems like nowadays, XUL based freeware is spreading to every type of program, and instant messaging is no exception. Instantbird is a multi-protocol IM client that uses Pidgin's libpurple to deliver the messages, and Mozilla's XUL library to display the interface. In other words: Pidgin turned Firefox.


Protocols.
Of course, what would a multi-protocol client be without protocols?
  • AIM
  • Facebook
  • Gadu-Gadu
  • Google Talk
  • GroupWise
  • ICQ
  • IRC
  • MSN/WindowsLive
  • MyspaceIM
  • Netsoul
  • QQ
  • Simple
  • XMPP
  • Yahoo
 Addons.
 One of the nice things about Instantbird being built off XUL is that -like Firefox and Thunderbird- you have a plethora of addons you can get to further customize it to your liking. You can add Emoticons, Message Styles, Protocols, Themes, and more, just like Firefox, there's pretty much everything your heart could desire. Unfortunately, because Instantbird is so young, there are barely any addons, like in the case of Protocols, only one (and it's in development). So the addons are definitely a good feature, but they need some time to grow.

 Baby Steps.
To be honest, Instantbird kind of has a ways to go. You are unable to set the sound scheme (other than diving into a JAR file and manually replacing the WAV files), you can set a custom "Away" message, but you cannot have things like "Do Not Disturb" or Invisibility, and downloading Instantbird from the website presents only a ZIP file, which would be great if Instantbird was portable, but it's not. Things like a custom sound scheme (possibly even as an addon), custom Away messages (which Pidgin has mastered), or an Installer or Portable version of Instantbird are just several examples of the next steps that Instantbird needs to take. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean it's not a wonderful app. I downloaded it and it sits right along Pidgin and Miranda in my start menu. I can start it up, and have all of the basic functionality that I need from any of the other multi-protocol clients.


The good, and the future.
The things that I do admire about Instantbird is that it is open source and cross platform. In a way, Instantbird is much like Songbird: it's a non-Mozilla app built off XUL that has practically unlimited potential. The wonderful thing about Songbird is that with most media players, you think "Gee, I wish it had [this feature] or [that feature]," but Songbird fills that with the customization from addons. And that's what Instantbird could do. Imagine an Instant Messaging client with all the power of Pidgin, enhanced with hundreds of addons! An addon for webcam chat, an addon for browser integration, an addon for buddy pounces....the possibilities are endless! The only thing standing in Instantbird's path to being a truly magnificent piece of freeware (available on all three primary operating systems) is time. I personally can't wait to see what Instantbird will bring to the table when it's more mature. It's already a good client now. In a few years, it could be amazing.

Visit Instantbird website for download

5 comments:

  1. I have just Installed Instantbird a few days ago. And I am very pleased with it. I tried Pidgin which was more difficult to use and also I was disappointed that the Google Talk voice plug in did not work like it said it was supposed to.But I have had no problems with Instantbird and although it does not do voice chats.It is very good for sending live email and easy to use. and takes up a lot less space on your hard drive than Pidgin does.i think it is worth getting this product. Andrea.

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  2. Happily, unlike Firefox, it doesn't seem to have memory leaks. Maybe we'll have that to look forward to once more plugins are available...

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