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  • Invalid/self-signed/out-of-date SSL certificates can now be easily overridden for IRC accounts.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!

LaTeX support brings prettier math to your messages

With our new add-on, any mathematics contained in your conversations will be beautifully rendered using MathJax.

It’s rather nice to be able to discuss math using familiar LaTeX markup, but with the equations displayed properly. And of course, as LaTeX is text-based, this works for all protocols, and does not depend on your conversation partners also using Instantbird!

No configuration is necessary — to use this, you don’t even need to have TeX installed.

You can easily obtain the LaTeX source of any equation using the context menu. AMSmath symbols and environments (such as \begin{align}…\end{align}) are supported.

There are a few customization options — for example, you can choose to have displayed equations numbered automatically, to make them easier to refer to.

The add-on works with all Instantbird message styles, so you don’t have to change your favourite theme.

Get the add-on here!

Google Summer of Code 2013

Mozilla is doing Google Summer of Code 2013 and Instantbird is interested in participating again. Instantbird participated (through Mozilla) the last two years with JS-XMPP (by varuna in 2011) and the Import Wizard (by wnayes in 2012).  Both projects were successful: Instantbird and Thunderbird use our JavaScript XMPP code and we’re hoping to integrate the Import Wizard into Instantbird soon, after which the UI could then be uplifted into Thunderbird.

It is time to start thinking about (and brainstorming) ideas for the chat in this year’s GSoC! We’ve already started brainstorming and came up with some ideas, but would love to get more ideas from people. Remember that a good GSoC project needs to be something that can be completed by a student in ~8 weeks (but also has to keep a student busy the whole time!).  It should also be something that we would want to integrate into Instantbird by default and have expected behavior already defined.

Feel free to come chat with us on IRC (#instantbird on irc.mozilla.org) about this or any other topic!

Instantbird speaks your language

Instantbird 1.3 became available on November, 15, and it comes with new features (you can see them clicking here). The Instantbird team is interested in offering this IM client to everyone, so there’s a new language in this release: Brazilian Portuguese - Sim, nós falamos Português!. Now Brazilians users can enjoy Instantbird in their language.

Additionally, Instantbird brought back the Russian language in this release. This language was in Instantbird since version 0.2, but it was not present in version 1.2. Thanks go out to our Russian localization team for making this possible!

Since the 0.2 release, Instantbird has been available in 5 languages - English, Finnish, French, Polish and Russian. The 1.0 release brought six more languages and now Instantbird is available in 13 languages!

The Instantbird team has a goal: ”to redefine the way instant messaging is used, to work the way you want.” To reach this goal, it’s necessary that Instantbird can be used by as many people as possible, in every country. So we encourage interested people to translate it to their languages. If you’re interested in helping us achieve this goal by creating new translations or improving Instantbird, you can get more information here.

Instantbird 1.3 Released!

We’ve released Instantbird 1.3 (get your copy here)!  This update includes some nice improvements, which are fully outlined in the release notes.  A few changes of note are:Nickname highlighting in a chat
  • IRC: Long messages will now be sent in multiple parts, and more authentication methods are supported to connect e.g. to Freenode.
  • Twitter: Replying to a tweet now replies to all users, just like on the Twitter website!
  • User’s nicknames are now highlighted when mentioned in a chat.
  • Two new social networks were added: Odnoklassniki and VKontakte.
  • Various connection issues with Twitter and XMPP based networks were fixed.
  • Accessibility improvements.
Unfortunately, this will be the last release to support Mac OS 10.5 and PPC, as we will be unable to support these once we upgrade Instantbird to Mozilla 17.
We’ve got plenty of interesting new features and ideas for upcoming versions of Instantbird!  We will update to a more recent version of Mozilla with awesome new features, imagine all the cool things we can do with technologies like WebRTC!

Google Summer of Code 2012 Roundup

Instantbird 1.2 was released about two months ago and we must again apologize for keeping this blog fairly quiet.  Sorry about that!  But we’re here now, so read on for some (not really so) juicy Instantbird news!

Instantbird 1.2 release went fairly smoothly, much smoother than the last release!  We’ve gotten some great feedback (and had lots of bugs filed) and of course have started working on Instantbird 1.3 already!  Most of the fixes that have so far gone into the 1.3 nightlies so far are minor…but taken altogether, I’m not sure I could go back to 1.2!  Feel free to give them a try and report any issues to us!

Thunderbird 15 was “recently” released, which also contained the core chat backend of Instantbird.  We’ve had a bunch of bugs filed from that release too!  Between feedback from the two programs we’ve made a lot of minor improvements that will definitely make Instantbird (more of) a joy to use.

Google Summer of Code 2012 has been over for a bit (it ended in August), but we never thanked Will for his time with us and the great work he’s done so far.  Currently the account importer code he wrote this summer is undergoing review, but hopefully it will be complete for Instantbird 1.3 to allow extremely easy transitioning to Instantbird!  Thanks for a great summer Will!  We hope you’ve enjoyed working with your mentor, Florian, and the rest of the Instantbird team; we’ve definitely enjoyed working with you, helping you and watching you learn.  Good luck and hopefully we’ll continue to see you around (and have contributions from you!) in the future.  We’d also like to thanks Mozilla for graciously allowing us to be part of Google Summer of Code 2012 through them!

As always, feel free to stop by #instantbird on irc.mozilla.org (and, yes, Instantbird supports IRC: you can’t use the excuse that you don’t have an IRC client!) to give us some feedback or ask questions.

Instantbird 1.2 Released!

We’re very proud to release Instantbird 1.2, which has a huge number of improvements!  If you love Instantbird 1.1, you’ll definitely appreciate the improvements made in this release; and if you don’t use Instantbird yet…well I’d suggest you give it a try! You can read the full list of changes (403 to be precise) in the release notes.

Instantbird 1.2 took way more time to finish (10 months!) than we originally expected, and even though there’s a very long list of improved details, there’s no major new features. So you may wonder… what happened?!?

Well, the reason why it took so long is… Thunderbird! The major change that came with Instantbird 1.2 is that the chat back-end code is now shared with Thunderbird, that will feature instant messaging support in its version 15, to be released in a few weeks.

This forced us to give priority to some long standing side projects that were interesting for Instantbird, but not immediately required: as Thunderbird can’t use libpurple which has an incompatible license, we had to finish sooner, rather than later, some major architectural changes to ensure that our chat back-end doesn’t depend on libpurple at all. That’s right, Instantbird 1.2 is no longer based on libpurple (but still uses it to support many protocols of course).

Our back-end working without libpurple wasn’t enough for Thunderbird: the only protocol plug-in shipped in Instantbird 1.0 and 1.1 that didn’t use libpurple was Twitter; more were obviously needed. Fortunately, we were already cooking a JavaScript implementation of XMPP (started during Google Summer of Code 2011) and IRC (it’s been Patrick’s side project for years!). Our initial goal when we started working on these 2 protocol reimplementations in JavaScript was to gain full control of the way these important protocols are handled by Instantbird, and to improve their extensibility. For Thunderbird, finishing them became a priority, and it’s where we spent most of our time!

As I’m talking a lot about Thunderbird, you may be wondering if this involvement of the Instantbird team in the Thunderbird project could mean we are discontinuing the development of Instantbird as a stand-alone application. Not at all! We believe both applications complement each other very well, and have different use cases. While Thunderbird, with integrated email and IM, may be better for users who work all day long with their email client and IM the same contacts; we believe lots of home users tend to use a webmail instead of a local email client and would prefer to keep their IM application separate.

We’re very excited that Instantbird is developing closer ties with Mozilla, who we think shares a similar mission of allowing users, YOU, to control their own privacy on the Internet! A few of our developers are now “peers” of Mozilla’s new chat module, and we are pursuing more opportunities to bring Instantbird closer to Mozilla in the future.

We hope you’ll enjoy using Instantbird 1.2 as much as we are and we greatly look forward to the next version of Instantbird! As always, if you see any bugs please file a bug, catch us on IRC or email us!