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.

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!

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!

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!

Instantbird 1.1 released!

Exactly 4 years after the very early 0.1 preview, Instantbird 1.1 has just been released today in 13 locales (Swedish and Estonian are new)!

In addition to several stability fixes and a dramatic reduction of resource consumption in some cases, this new release will make Twitter and IRC much more usable in Instantbird:

  • On Twitter, it’s now possible from the context menu to retweet, to reply to a tweet (or simply double click on the tweet to start a reply). The context menu also lets you follow or unfollow the author of the tweet.
  • Tab completion of usernames (starting with an @ character on twitter) or nicknames (in IRC channels) will also be very appreciated.

All these changes have been commonly requested, so no surprise here. But there’s one last feature I would like to talk about before offering you a download link: Instantbird 1.1 brings support for putting conversation on hold. This means you can now close conversation tabs without leaving the conversation, the conversation will sit at the top of the Contacts window until you reopen it or someone talks to you. While this may seem like a small change, it’s exceptionally useful for IRC users who tend to idle in lots of channels because they want to “be there just in case” but don’t interact much with the conversation.

Enough talk! Time to go download Instantbird 1.1 (or read the more detailed release notes).

As always, your feedback is welcome! And if you like Instantbird, maybe you will want to share the good news with your friends on Facebook or twitter?

Instantbird 1.0 released in 11 locales!

The Instantbird team is pleased to announce a polished Instantbird 1.0, released today in 11 locales.

Instantbird logo

Instantbird is an extremely easy to use and highly extensible instant messaging client that aims to respect its users!

Building on the experience available via open-source software, Instantbird is able to harness the power of Pidgin (via its libpurple protocol library) and of Mozilla’s Firefox technology, to provide access to a wide variety of instant messaging networks, while providing an easy (and well known) extension platform. Although Instantbird is fully cross-platform (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux), we strive to present a native look-and-feel to the user interface.

Get Instantbird 1.0 now!

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