Status Update: April 2011 – May 2011

A lot has been going on for Instantbird as the pace has been picking up as we approach the release of 0.3. Below we’ve highlighted some of the exciting new features that have become available since our last update. Some of these are currently available in 0.3 alpha 2, and the rest are available in the nightly builds! They’ll of course be included in 0.3 beta 1 (and the final release of 0.3).

Instantbird is participating in Google Summer of Code 2011 with one student project. Mozilla has been gracious enough to allow us to participate this year as part of their mentoring organization. The project includes an implementation of the XMPP protocol in JavaScript as an Instantbird extension. The XMPP implementation will be extensible to allow Instantbird extension developers to easily implement extra parts of the XMPP protocol beyond what will be included by default, some examples of this include collaborative editors and drawing boards. Details of the project proposal, as well as code and a blog are available to track this project.

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Status Update: February 2011 – March 2011


  • Contact merging (bug 698).  If you talk to the same person on multiple IM networks you can now combine the buddies from each network into a single contact.  When opening a new chat the buddy that is online will be chosen automatically and the conversation window will automatically change to another buddy if they switch to a different IM network.
  • Tags have begun to be implemented (to replace the groups concept in the current buddy list).  Tags can be hidden by clicking the “x” on the right side of the buddy list, all buddies from this tag will go into an “Other Contacts” tag automatically, which is shown at the bottom of the buddy list.
  • The buddy list can now be closed on Mac without Instantbird quitting (bug 24).  It can be reopened from the Dock.
  • Offline contacts vs. unknown contacts are now differentiated with icons.
  • Instantbird has been upgraded from libpurple 2.7.9 to 2.7.11. Changes of note include a fix for adding buddies in MSN (see all changes at their change log).
  • Dark variant of the “Simple” skin (bug 710).
  • For Developers:
    • Extensions are now able to register commands (bug 118).
    • A general JavaScript socket object has been included (bug 673).
    • Instantbird 0.3a2pre nightlies are now based on the mozilla-2.0 branch instead of the mozilla-central trunk (commit).  This is the version of the Mozilla source that is used in Firefox 4.x.

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Status Update: November 2010 – January 2011

It’s been over two months from our last status update and a lot of changes and updates have occurred (from changeset to changeset). Below we list changes for the nightly trunk builds of Instantbird (0.3a1pre).


  • Basic support for Twitter was added (bug 598).
    When the twitter account is connected, a timeline conversation automatically opens. If the conversation is closed by the user, it’s reopened automatically when new messages arrive. The user should disconnect the account from the account manager to prevent new messages from being displayed.
    There’s a “track” advanced option that allows to specify keywords to track. This is a comma separated list of keywords. Comma means OR, space inside a keyword means AND.
  • The conversation UI has received a slight update:
    On Mac the splitter between the conversation and input boxes was reduced.
    For all operating systems, the status bar of the conversation window is now automatically hidden when the window is made small.
  • After quite a lot of debate, the wording of the option for when to create a new conversation window was updated (bug 387). Continue reading

Status update

It’s been three weeks now since the last status update and here’s a short summary of things that have been done in the meantime.

Some contributors are getting more closely involved with the project lately. Subsequently some tasks, such as posting status updates, will occasionally be performed by people besides Florian, in fact this entry was written by Benedikt P.


  • Making the buddy list ready for the future: the buddy list backend mentioned in the last update has been finished, debugged and finally landed two weeks ago.
  • The Mozilla framework has supported CSS transitions for a while now and we decided to ditch our old animation code in favour of this state-of-the-art technology. Changing the display- and hide-animations on the buddy list is part of bug 504. Along with the change to the buddy list backend it greatly increased the speed when switching on the display of offline buddies. There should no longer be any noticeable delay, even when there are many buddies on the list. Continue reading

Status update

It’s time again to give an overview of what we’ve been doing in the last few weeks and what we plan to do next.


  • The rewrite of the buddy list backend is going well. The new implementation, is almost usable (as long as you don’t need to add, remove or rename a contact). I can’t wait to land this in our nightly builds! (This will occur as soon as everything is re-implemented so there is no feature-loss). Bug 555 tracks this work.
  • I’ve spent some time analyzing the crash reports we have received after the libpurple update. I emailed the Pidgin developers mailing list to share my findings. The feedback received allowed us to fix a whole class of Windows-only crashes by applying a Glib fix. Continue reading

Status update

We’ve been a bit quiet since the 0.2 release, but we haven’t slept all of this time, so let’s do another status update!

After some time spent polishing the new website and dealing with post-release work (like testing and enabling major updates), we have started working toward Instantbird 0.3:

  • Some major refactoring work to allow protocol plugins to be written fully in JavaScript had started a long time before the final 0.2 release. This work was being done in the js-proto branch. The branch has been merged so that our nightly testers can help spot new issues in 0.3a1pre nightly builds. They have been super helpful, and have found 2 regressions, which are now fixed.
  • Instantbird 0.2 is based on the mozilla-1.9.2 platform. Instantbird 0.3 will be based on Mozilla 2.0. The work to switch to using code from mozilla-central is almost completed. This involved updating our build system (which is a copy of the comm-central one), changing the way our XPCOM components are registered, and other adjustments to make Instantbird’s code work with a newer Mozilla. This work has happened in a mozilla2 branch in our repository. The branch isn’t merged yet because there remains a serious regression that we need to fix (JavaScript code included in message styles isn’t executed).
  • We have welcomed new translators, who have enthusiastically started translations of Instantbird into 7 new locales (Czech, Dutch, Estonian, Italian, Slovak, Spanish and Ukrainian)!

Development is slower than usual this month, because some members of the team, including myself, are taking some time away from the Internet.

In the relatively near future, we will finish the work to switch to Mozilla 2.0, and upgrade libpurple to the latest released version (2.7.*).

Status Update – Why 0.2 is not out yet

The last status update here was more than a month ago, so it’s probably time for another update. We are still working toward releasing Instantbird 0.2 in the near future.

At this point, the code of the application is ready. Two points are still holding the release though:

  • we have to rework the server side part of our update system, because the scripts we used on the server up to version 0.2b2 of Instantbird were not able to handle updates in several languages. We want to be sure that users who downloaded Instantbird 0.2 beta 2 in a non-English language will receive an updated version in the same language.
  • we are redesigning the main website of Instantbird. The goal of this redesign is partly to provide a visual refresh, but also to clarify the message. We are de-emphasizing the “multi-platform” argument (it is probably irrelevant to most users and is probably quickly understood by those who care about using Instantbird on more than one operating system), and we try to emphasis the simplicity and ease of use of Instantbird.

We look forward to putting Instantbird 0.2 in the hands of users who didn’t dare to try the beta releases.