Linux nightly builds back!

Back in March, we posted that we had started building nightly builds from mozilla-central/comm-central, but because the version of CentOS we had been using was too old, we were unable to continue providing Linux nightly builds. That has now changed and (as of today) we have both 32-bit and 64-bit Linux nightlies! Since this involved us installing a new operating system (CentOS 6.2) and tweaking some of the build configuration for Linux, please let us know if you see any issues! Additionally, some more up-to-date features that have been available in Mozilla Firefox for a while should now be available in Instantbird (e.g. dbus and pulse audio support) and even some minor bugs were fixed!

Sorry that this took so long, but go grab your updated copy now!

Google Summer of Code 2014 has Commenced!

Instantbird again has the pleasure of participating in Google Summer of Code under the Mozilla umbrella. In the past we’ve had a variety of exciting projects and this year is no different. Three students will be working with us this summer:

Saurabh Anand (sawrubh), mentored by Patrick Cloke (clokep), will aim to add support for reliable file transfer to Instantbird using FileLink as a fallback to standard file transfer.

Mayank Kumar (mayanktg), mentored by Benedikt P. (Mic), will be adding voice and video support to Instantbird by integrating WebRTC for XMPP. WebRTC makes it easy for us to have real-time communication without the use of additional plugins.

Nihanth Subramanya (nhnt11), who last year added the “awesometab“, will be looking to improve loading of conversations and history under the guidance of aleth. He will work on adding the ability to search across all logs of a contact and loading the previous context of a conversation when scrolling (“infinite scroll”).

Please feel free to stop by #instantbird on irc.mozilla.org to say hello and congratulate our students! Thanks again to Mozilla for allowing us to participate in Google Summer of Code with them!

Pardon the Interruption! Instantbird nightly builds are back!

As of today, March 3rd, 2014, Instantbird nightly builds (1.6a1pre) are being built again. We last had nightly builds on January 9th, 2014 and they have been broken since due to a series of a large infrastructure change we’ve been going through to merge the Instantbird Bugzilla and code repository with Mozilla’s. Unfortunately, getting nightly builds working again took us longer than expected as it involved many related issues: updating Instantbird to work with newer versions of Mozilla, reconfiguring our buildbot and working on getting libpurple to build as an extension.

The results of this is that Instantbird is now building out of the “comm-central” code repository (the same place the code for Thunderbird is stored). What does this mean for you?

  • Instantbird nightlies are now built using comm-central/mozilla-central: bugs fixed in Mozilla will be reflected in the next Instantbird nightly.
  • Instantbird 1.6a1pre is currently based on Mozilla 30, this is a bit of a jump from Instantbird 1.5 (Mozilla 25). There might be an influx of bugs as any issues caused by this jump are worked out. Please report any issues you see!
  • (Not entirely related) Bugs for Instantbird can now be reported on bugzilla.mozilla.org under the “Instantbird” and “Chat Core” (for bugs shared with Thunderbird Chat) products.
  • Current nightly builds are located at on our ftp site, but automatic updating from older nightlies should still work.

Again, sorry for any interruption. Regular development should be continuing now. Thanks for all the concerned emails telling us our builds had stopped!

Instantbird 1.5 Released!

Instantbird 1.5 has been released: go grab your copy now! There are a ton of new features and bugs fixed for this new release, but we’d like to highlight a couple of new features below.

An exciting new feature you’ll find in Instantbird 1.5 is the New Conversation tab. It displays a list of your contacts, ordered based on how frequently and recently you’ve talked to them. Starting a conversation has never been easier! No longer will you have to open a separate window and scroll through your contact list to find a person. Just click the “+” button or press Ctrl/Cmd+T, start typing the name of the contact, and you should see your contact appear at the top of the list after typing only a few letters! You can then press enter and your conversation opens! The first time you open the tab, Instantbird will load your chat logs and learn who you talk to most often in order to offer accurate suggestions. New friends might not show up at the top immediately, but keep talking to them and they’ll reorder themselves. Don’t worry though, this ranking data is kept only on your own computer and is not transmitted or shared in any way!

Additionally, if you use Instantbird for IRC, the New Conversation tab will automatically query your servers to download the list of channels that are available to you. (This is generally known as LIST in IRC jargon.) Just like with your contacts, you can type in the name of a channel and it’ll bubble to the top of the list. Sometimes you don’t always know the channel name (that’s why you’re searching, right?): we’ve got you covered there too! Instantbird will search the channel topics in addition to channel names so you can quickly find new channels to join!

A very visible user interface improvement that was included for Instantbird 1.5 is redone tooltips that fit more into the visual style of the rest of the user interface. They should be immediately familiar to Instantbird users as they’re modeled after the conversation header! Hopefully this will help you find information quickly and easily whether conversing with your contacts or just checking their status.

For Linux users out there, we are still only offering 32-bit builds, although we hope to change that soon! If you are running a 64-bit Linux distribution, previously you’d have to install the ia32-libs (see our FAQ), but this has changed in recent versions of Ubuntu which no longer offer this package. The procedure now is to run:

sudo apt-get install libgtk2.0-0:i386 libpangox-1.0-0:i386 libpangoxft-1.0-0:i386 libidn11:i386 libglu1-mesa:i386 libxt-dev:i386 libasound-dev:i386

If you’d like to see a complete list of what’s new in Instantbird 1.5, please view the release notes.

First Milestone of the Awesometab has landed!

Awesometab is the project name for a tab developed by Nihanth Subramanya during the Google Summer of Code 2013 (via Mozilla) which allows to quickly start the conversation you want to start. The suggestions will be based on several parameters like frequency and recency of previous conversations and will show the most likely results when you open the new conversation-tab. It will also include already ongoing conversations (Switch to conversation) and suggestions for multi user chats such as IRC channels and XMPP chatrooms on the servers that you’re connected to.

What’s this milestone that has landed already?

After problems with the sheer size of the patch during last years GSoC project, we decided to split this year’s projects into smaller parts that can land as soon as they are ready.

So far a filterable contact list in a tab has landed that can easily be opened using the common shortcut of Ctrl+T for New Tab (from both the contact list or a conversation window) or by clicking the likewise familiar New Tab-button in the tab bar.

New conversation tab

New conversation tab, list filtered for contacts starting with letter f

It features a search bar at top of the tab content which allows to refine the results. It currently matches the entered name against each part of the contact’s names but will do more later (see next section).

Contacts are displayed similar to results in Firefox’ awesomebar while retaining the familiar look of the conversation header with the contact icon and status indicator at the left and the contact name and status message to the right of it. Additionally the tags of the contact are displayed, indicated by the same icons as Firefox uses for tags on the Awesomebar.

Starting a conversation is as easy as single clicking on the result or selecting an item with the keyboard and pressing Enter – a middle click opens the new conversation in background instead while keeping the new conversation tab visible, just in case that you need to start more than one conversation!

And what’s next?

The next step (already under development!) will be further improving this list by integrating already ongoing conversations (Switch to tab/conversation). We’d also like to include a way to filter the list by tags and to highlight the text that matches the filter like the Awesomebar does.

Later on a ranking algorithm will be introduced and tweaked to show the most important results first instead of the alphabetically sorted list that you currently get when opening the tab.

These changes are most likely going to be integrated as soon as they are ready and reviewed, so make sure you have a nightly build and update frequently!

I’m really happy to see how well this project is going, I’m already enjoying how easy it became to start a conversation using the filterable contact list.  I’m looking forward to actually see the conversations I most likely want to start right away!

Thanks, Nihanth, it’s really great work that you’re doing here!

Google Summer of Code 2013 Projects Announced

For the third year in a row, Instantbird will be participating in Google Summer of Code.  Last year, Will Nayes worked on an Account Import Wizard and in 2011, Varuna Jayasiri worked on our JavaScript XMPP implementation (currently used by Google Talk and Facebook accounts in Instantbird, as well as Google Talk, Facebook and XMPP in Thunderbird).

Instantbird will be mentoring three student projects this year:

Additional JavaScript Protocol Plug-ins (Yahoo!)

The goal of this project is to reimplement Yahoo! Messenger support in Instantbird using JavaScript and XPCOM interfaces. — Quentin Headen (qheaden)

 

FileLinks in Instant Messages

The Thunderbird Filelink feature allows users to upload attachments to an online storage service, replacing the email attachment with a link. This existing code could be used to implement file transfer. While some protocols support file transfer directly, this approach would provide a fallback that should always work. Designing and implementing a good UI frontend would also be required. — Atul Jangra (atuljangra)

 

Instantbird Awesometab

I propose to develop a “smart” user interface, in the form of a user-openable tab, that allows the user to quickly and efficiently open new chats – based on who they chat with most often, and on what accounts they do so. The user should be able to go from actively chatting in one conversation to doing so in a new one, losing no time in finding the contact to start the conversation with, refocusing to the correct UI element, or opening extra windows. — Nihanth Subramanya (nhnt11)

For the next few weeks the students are encouraged to bond with their community. All three have been active in recent weeks on our IRC channel (#instantbird on irc.mozilla.org), feel free to stop by and say hello! The Instantbird team looks forward to working with all of them during the summer. You can check out their blogs (linked to above) and back here for progress throughout the summer.

We’d like to thank Mozilla for letting us apply to Google Summer of Code as part of them!  You can see the other student projects Mozilla is mentoring on the Google Summer of Code site.

Instantbird 1.4 Released!

Log Viewer showing dates in a tree

Get your copy of Instantbird 1.4, hot off the presses! We’ve made a lot of improvements (for full details, see the release notes):

  • Twitter:
    • The character counter should now be correct when tweeting links.
    • Twitter now uses the v1.1 API, this will allow Twitter to continue working past June 11th, 2013 (when the v1.0 API is disabled).
  • Invalid/self-signed/out-of-date SSL certificates can now be easily overridden for IRC accounts.
  • Logs are now organized by the date they were created, and smartly folded to easily find recent chats.

As we stated during the Instantbird 1.3 release, this version now requires Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). Instantbird 1.4 is based off Mozilla 20 and libpurple 2.10.7, the newest versions available.

You might be asking “What’s next?” for Instantbird; we will be participating in Google Summer of Code 2013 (again through Mozilla). Through this and our other volunteers, we’ll continue improving Instantbird to make it a chat program you love to use. Hopefully we can integrate some cool new features from this year’s Google Summer of Code and finish integrating the Account Import Wizard from Google Summer of Code 2012! As always, if you see any issues, please file bugs!