Google Summer of Code 2012

Instantbird is participating in Google Summer of Code (GSoC) again this year as part of Mozilla and we will be mentoring one student: Will Nayes.  The abstract for his project is:

Instantbird Account Import Wizard

When evaluating a new messaging client, the common frustration of reconfiguring accounts and settings is difficult to avoid. To combat similar issues, the developers at Mozilla have implemented account import wizards in their Firefox and Thunderbird software packages. I propose creating an Account Import Wizard for the IM client Instantbird, which will provide users with a flexible way to import profile data from existing messaging client installations. [source]

Will is in contact with us via our IRC channel #instantbird (on during the community bonding period. We’d love for you to stop by and help welcome wnayes to our community. We’re extremely excited to have Will working with us this summer!

We’d like to thank Mozilla for letting us apply to Google Summer of Code with them!  You can see all of Mozilla’s accepted applications on the GSoC 2012 site.

Status Update: February 25, 2012

We’ve been awful at posting updates to our blog about what has been going on! It’s too late now to even blame it on the holidays, but we owe you all an update about what’s been happening and here it is!  We do, generally, still have status meetings on Monday’s at 6:00 PM Paris time (that’s noon EST) in #instantbird on  Feel free to stop by and tell us what you love or what you hate or anything else!

What’s New?

  • Tab completion is now smarter: “active” nicknames are now favored in completions and your own nickname is avoided in completions unless it’s the only match.
  • The JavaScript XMPP protocol implementation developed by Varuna JAYASIRI for Google Summer of Code 2011 is now used for Facebook Chat and Google Talk accounts. It can’t yet fully replace the libpurple implementation until DNS SRV is supported.
  • You can now scroll to the first unread message after opening a conversation that was on hold by pressing Alt+Page Up (you can also scroll to the top of the conversation by pressing Alt+Page Up again after that)!
  • When opening a conversation on hold, the UI is now updated asynchronously if there are a lot of messages to restore. You may notice a progress bar has replaced the UI freeze we used to have in this situation.
  • Conversations are now logged in a JSON format to allow more information than the old plaintext logs.
  • You can now delete Twitter messages.
  • Passwords are now stored in the Mozilla password manager! Previous saved passwords will be migrated to the password manager automatically, but the old saved password in the preference system is not yet deleted.  This will be handled in a future update.
  • Buddy authorization requests have been rewritten to remove the (awful) modal dialogue!
  • Mozilla was updated to 9.0.1 and libpurple was updated to 2.10.1.
  • Various crashers have been fixed.
  • Additionally, a lot of code reorganization has occurred for ongoing work of sharing code with Thunderbird.

What’s Coming Soon / Being Worked On?

  • Our JavaScript implementation of IRC should be landing in the nightly builds soon, which should have feature parity to the libpurple implementation.  Please test this out!  You can find more information in bug 507.
  • Integrate SIPE (bug 976).
  • Add a reading position marker to quickly find the last read message in a conversation, bug 860.
  • Upgrade to Mozilla 10.

What’s up with Instantbird 1.2?

We were hoping to release Instantbird 1.2 near the end of January, 2012.  Unfortunately there are a few blockers / regressions that have been found, causing us to be unable to release.  Everything slated as wanted or blocking Instantbird 1.2 can be seen on our Bugzilla.

  • The l10n scripts need to be updated and translations need to be updated.
  • Decide whether to drop QQ (we need to support showing captchas to keep it): bug 1021.
  • Finish the JavaScript XMPP work (not all of these necessarily need to be done for Instantbird 1.2):
    • Handle setting a user’s icon.
    • Allow adding/removing tags from a buddy.
    • DNS SRV (not required for Facebook Chat or Google Talk): Mozilla bug 14328.
    • Receiving formatted messages (bug 1231).
    • Sending private messages to MUC participants.
    • MUC topics need to be supported.
  • Currently a contact will disappear and not reappear when their name changes for some reason, bug 1178.
  • Conversations should show the history in new windows, bug 958.
  • All message styles (not just Bubbles) should support context messages, bug 1074.

Again, please accept our sincerest apologies for not providing any updates in the past couple of months about the progress we’ve made with Instantbird.  We’re really excited about Instantbird 1.2 and can hopefully get it out to everyone as soon as possible!  As always, Instantbird is made great by the community and we’d love to have more help in working on it!  If you have any ideas (or no ideas, but some free time!) stop by #instantbird on and we can have some discussions or point you to ways to help you!

Weekly Meeting: October 31, 2011

At the weekly meeting held on October 31, 2011 plans for Instantbird 1.2 were discussed as well as a summary of what’s happened since the 1.1 release. (Full chat logs are also available, as well as the Etherpad timelime.)

Weekly meetings are held every Monday at 4pm UTC (that’s 6pm for people in France, and 9am for people in San Francisco) in #instantbird on

What’s Happened Since the 1.1 Release:

  • Lots of patches have been reviewed and some new features are in (or soon to be in) the nightly builds.
    • Tab complete is now smart about case sensitivity.
    • You can now change your status from the tray icon.
    • You can now copy the link directly to a tweet.
  • Some major changes have been made to the repository to pave the way for large improvements. If you have the code checked out, you should update!

What’s Being Worked On:

Active participants are highlighted in color.
  • Only show colors of participants who have participated, allowing you to quickly see who’s active! This first patch will keep participants gray until they’ve talked once, look for it in a nightly soon!
  • Cleaning up and renaming of the interfaces to make them easier to work with. This is paving stone to making libpurple optional (and only loading protocols when they’re needed).
  • Integration work of the JavaScript IRC code into the Instantbird source has started (instead of using it as an extension).
  • Florian will be attending MozCamp Berlin, from November 12th to November 13th, and will be giving a talk on Instantbird, go say “Hi!” if you’ll be attending!
  • Lots of user interface (in particular, when using Twitter) “paper cut” bugs! Those annoying bugs that you can live with, but get in your way? Yeah, we don’t like those either.


Ways You Help Out:

There’s a few tasks that we could use help with, if you’re interested in any of these, please contact us.  (And if there’s something else you’re interested, let us know about that too!)

  • A QA/testing team would help to find regressions and bugs quickly
  • Help is needed in organizing the localization effort and keeping them up to date with information.
  • Someone to work on making the add-on experience more enjoyable would be appreciated.

Stop by at our next meeting on November 7, 2011 at 6:00 PM France time in #instantbird on!  And as always, please file any bugs you see in our bug tracker.

Weekly Meeting: October 17, 2011

Weekly meetings are held every Monday at 4pm UTC (that’s 6pm for people in France, and 9am for people in San Francisco) in #instantbird on

The second weekly meeting discussed some final details for the 1.1 release, which happened on October 18, 2011!  Read the blog post about the release. In addition, some plans for Instantbird 1.2 were discussed.

Development Issues Discussed:

  • Instantbird 1.1:
    • SSL Issues with GTalk
    • Focus issues on the buddy list
    • Release candidates for all localization prepared
  • Instantbird 1.2:
    • Check in the backlog patches that have been reviewed
    • Update to Mozilla 8 or Mozilla 9
    • Integrate JavaScript protocols: clokep’s JS-IRC and XMPP from our GSoC  student
    • Strive toward making libpurple optional

Non-Development Issues Discussed:

Ways to Help Out:

  • A QA/testing team would help to find regressions and bugs quickly
  • Help is needed in organizing the localization effort and keeping them up to date with information

Stop by at our next meeting on October 24, 2011 at 6:00 PM France time.  Oh, and try out Instantbird 1.1 if you haven’t (and tell your friends)!

(Full chat logs are available, as well as the Etherpad timelime.)

Weekly Meeting: October 10, 2011

Weekly meetings are held every Monday at 4pm UTC (that’s 6pm for people in France, and 9am for people in San Francisco.)

The first weekly status meeting, which everyone is encouraged to attend, was held on #instantbird ( and flo, clokep and aleth lead the discussions. (Full chat logs are available, as well as the Etherpad timelime.)

The meeting’s primary focus was about the pending 1.1 release (if you’re reading this before 1.1 goes gold, nightlies are available at and testing is always appreciated!)

Development Issues Discussed:

  • SSL issue. Fixed
  • Translations not yet 1.1 compliant. Fixed

Non-Development Issues Discussed:

  • Establishment of the non-profit foundation to support Instantbird
    • Specifically the creation of a bank account for funds and starting ideas to generate capital
    • We are still seeking suggestions for good web-based systems to let the non-profit receive donations (ideally with minimal transaction charges and must be accepting of most international currencies)
    • Thinking about ways to get more people to use Instantbird’s Amazon-affiliate code when making purchases
  • New WordPress-powered blog is launched, letting more Instantbird developers share in the blog’s upkeep and helping to expand its audience
  • Florian Quèze will be attending the Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit, so say hi if you are attending

If you read this full post, here is an extra sneak peak for you: Check out the full list of new features in 1.1! More details on them are on the way, that’s why this is just a sneak peek.

“Why should I switch from Pidgin?”

This is a question people keep asking us. With some variations (“Why should I switch from Adium?”), or sometimes without the question mark (“There’s nothing more than Pidgin”).

We are not competing…

I think people ask us this question because they perceive us as competing with Pidgin/Adium/[insert the name of your favorite open source IM client]. But there’s no good answer to that question, because we are not competing, here is why: Continue reading

Instantbird 1.0 release, 3 days later

Servers load

Instantbird 1.0 has been very quickly downloaded over ten thousand of times. In fact, it happened so fast (especially immediately after we have been featured on lifehacker) that our server couldn’t handle the load.

We have very quickly been able to mirror our main website on another server, which allowed people to keep discovering and downloading Instantbird 1.0, but we had to close the add-ons website for a while as the load it couldn’t handle was also putting down other services that we really needed to keep online, especially our bug database.

We have tried to re-open the add-ons website at a quieter time, but the server was unresponsive again within half an hour. This morning we tried to improve the website’s performance by adding some caching mechanism and reopened again (at a time when most Americans are asleep) for a try. Again it fall down.

Some people very kindly offered help and proposed to host the website on their server, but it’s difficult to trust someone we barely know to host a website that requires our SSL certificate.

Continue reading