Facebook Chat Issues

Recently we’ve received many questions from users whose Facebook Chat accounts will no longer connect in Instantbird.

Facebook officially deprecated its XMPP gateway on April 30th, 2015, but it continued to function until recently. Unfortunately it appears this is no longer the case.

After investigating the issue, we have been unable to find a workaround to keep it working. However, since Facebook deprecated the gateway, it’s surprising it even worked for this long!

Meanwhile, libpurple has a new protocol plugin that uses Facebook’s proprietary chat API, which we are considering offering as part of a future release of Instantbird.

Stay tuned!

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!

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!

Status Update: July 27, 2012

Sorry that we have been so awful at updating our blog again, but we have been busy working on getting Instantbird 1.2 ready for release!  We’re hoping to get this release out the door in the next few weeks (there’s a few final blockers we’re attempting to fix)!

A few weeks ago (in the beginning of July), Instantbird was string frozen for 1.2.  This means that no new patches will be accepted (for 1.2) which change any strings, this gives our localization (l10n) teams time to translate Instantbird 1.2 into different languages.  Instantbird 1.1 was released in 13 languages: Czech, German, English, Spanish, Estonian, French, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Swedish and Ukrainian!  Hopefully we can release Instantbird 1.2 in even more languages!  Unfortunately not all of these languages have been updated yet, so if you’re interested in translating Instantbird to your language, check out the translation information and get in contact with us!

Additionally, our Google Summer of Code student, Will Nayes, has been doing excellent work and already has importers working for Colloquy, Google Talk, mIRC, Pidgin, Windows Live Messenger and XChat!  He’s currently working on importing logs from each of these clients so you can smoothly transition from other clients to Instantbird without any data loss.  We hope Will is enjoying working on Instantbird as he’s doing a great job!

Status Update: May 23, 2012

We’ve made quite a bit of improvements over the past few weeks. Although a lot of the changes are behind the scenes or fixing regressions, there are some exciting user facing changes, as detailed below! We’ve also been working with our Google Summer of Code 2012 student, wnayes, quite a bit to get him up to speed of how things work in Instantbird. He’s made great progress on understanding the code and has even fixed a bug (see the “top protocols” page, below)!

Landed Changes:

"Top Protocol" Page in the Account Wizard

"Top Protocol" Page in the Account Wizard

  • The account wizard now has a “top protocols” page to allow users to quickly set up accounts that are most applicable to them. This is localizable as different instant messaging networks are popular in different regions.
  • Tab Completion improvements:
    • Will no longer complete the same name multiple times.
    • You can now cycle backwards through the list of completions by holding shift while pressing tab.
    • All matching names can be cycled through now, although they are prioritized as:
      1. Names of people who have pinged you (i.e. said your name in the chat).
      2. Names of active participants.
      3. Names of inactive participants.
  • IRC changes

Google Summer of Code Status:

The past few weeks were the “bonding” period for Google Summer of Code students and their respective communities; actual work has started this week. As part of the “bonding” period, we asked wnayes to check out bug 1391: adding the “top protocols” page to the account wizard (see above for a screenshot!).  We thought this would be a great introduction to our tools (mostly Bugzilla and Mercurial), our workflow (requesting reviews and feedback, discussing why changes were made, etc.), some of the languages that we use (XUL, XBL, CSS, and JavaScript) and to some of the account manager code that he will be working on this summer! wnayes has done a great job and the changes are already in the nightly builds!

To follow along with what wnayes will be working on this summer, you can read his blog (RSS feed) and check out his user repository. Additionally, he’s posted some general information (his application, timeline and a series of links) that he’ll be updating as the summer continues. (And of course you can stop by our IRC channel, #instantbird on irc.mozilla.org, and say “Hi!”)

Status Update: April 17, 2012

A lot has happened in the past two months since our last post: we’ve been quite busy trying to fix the list of blockers for Instantbird 1.2!

We’ve again joined Mozilla as part of their application for Google Summer of Code. You can see some of our ideas on Mozilla’s wiki. (We should find out soon whether Instantbird will be doing any projects or not this year!)

What’s New?

  • The JavaScript IRC implementation has landed! Many minor bugs were also fixed. The behavior is mostly the same as the old libpurple implementations, but there are differences. If you see issues, please file a bug! This will allow for better IRC support in the future.
  • The tab completion algorithm has been made smarter:
    • It now prefers the last person to have pinged you if there are multiple possible completions.
    • Addressing multiple participants is now handled gracefully.
  • There is now a reading position marker to show which messages arrived since you last viewed a conversation.
  • Updated to Mozilla 11.
  • A few crashers have been fixed.

What’s Coming Soon / Being Worked On?

What’s this I hear about Thunderbird integrating instant messaging code from Instantbird?

You may have heard that instant messaging was recently added to Thunderbird. This work was done by our very own Florian Quèze! Don’t panic though! This doesn’t mean that Instantbird development is stopping, we strongly believe there is a place for both a standalone instant messenger and a more integrated approach with email. This is a mutually beneficial relationship between Instantbird and Thunderbird where we share code, benefit from more testing and get a set of new people — and ideas — involved in making instant messaging easier and more about how you — the user — wants it!

For those curious, approximately one-third of the Instantbird codebase is now in Thunderbird’s Daily and Earlybird builds.  Feel free to give it a try and file any bugs in Mozilla’s bugtracker. Currently it looks like this feature will likely appear in Thunderbird 15.

We’re getting close to the Instantbird 1.2 release and we think there’s been a lot of great improvements that will make it easier and more natural to instant message with your friends, family, co-workers and others!

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 irc.mozilla.org.  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 irc.mozilla.org and we can have some discussions or point you to ways to help you!