As no critical issues have been reported in the recently released
we have turned on major updates for users of Instantbird 0.1.2 and
0.1.3. If you are still using one of these old versions, you will
receive a major update offer to get the newer Instantbird 0.2. It will
look like this:
Unfortunately, due to a bug of the updater that shipped in the Windows
version of Instantbird 0.1.3.1, the update won’t be automatic for these
users, who should download the full
installer themselves. We are sorry for
Instantbird 0.2 uses the multitouch feature of Macbook touchpads in
- Pinch in or out 2 fingers to change the zoom level.
- Swipe up (3 fingers) to scroll to the top of the conversation, down
to scroll to the last message. This saves time when looking for an
old messages in the conversation (for example, using the Find
feature) and then going back to the display of the most recent messages.
- Twist left or right to select the tab at the left or right of the
currently selected tab.
- Swipe left or right (3 fingers) to change the selected tab to the
previously selected tab. This gesture is probably the most useful
one: it’s very convenient when reading quickly a message in a newly
opened tab and then going back to the conversation tab where an
active conversation is occurring, or when actively participating in 2
discussions and repeatedly switching between 2 tabs.
After months of development and a few pre-release versions, we are happy
to announce that Instantbird 0.2 is now ready to be put in the hands of
the general public.
Instantbird 0.2 is now available in 5 languages thanks to the great work
of our translators.
If you have tried Instantbird 0.1 back in 2007 when it was first
released, Instantbird 0.2 may feel like a completely different software
to you. The most dramatically changed area is the conversation window
(for example, new tabs and message styles), but
there are notable changes in almost every window. For a list of changes,
see the release
Let’s stop talking, so that you can discover Instantbird 0.2
In the next few days, we will talk about our plans for the future, and
especially Instantbird 0.3. Stay tuned!
Context menus (opened with a “right click”) are a common and expected
part of the user interface. It can be very frustrating when they are
missing, so in Instantbird 0.2 we tried to add one wherever users are
likely to expect one.
In the buddy list, the context menu of contacts can be used to start a
conversation (although pressing enter or double clicking is usually
faster), show the conversation history, rename a contact, move the
contact to a different group or remove it from the list:
The context menu is usable anywhere in the buddy list to toggle the
display of offline buddies:
A context menu was added in the account manager too. There, it proposes
all the possible actions for an account. Since Instantbird 0.2, it’s
possible to reorder the accounts in the list (this is also possible with
drag & drop using the mouse or with the keyboard using shift + the up or
A context menu is available on conversation tabs, with actions related
to that tab (opening it in a new window, closing it, …) and to the
conversation, like showing the history of previous conversations with
the same contact.
Last but not least, there’s a context menu in conversation content. This
is the most “contextual” context menu we have added. The proposed
actions will vary depending on whether there is a selection or if the
context click was done over a link.
When selecting some text from a conversation, a common action is to copy
it to the clipboard and then paste it in a browser to use it as the
query in search engine. We have included search engine items directly in
the context menus to reduce the number of clicks needed for this common case.
In Instantbird 0.2 a lot of visual bloat has been removed from all
windows. Some margins have been reduced, borders that weren’t useful for
clarity have been removed, and alignments have been improved. All of
this contributes to a better use of the available space on the screen,
and to a better perceived impression of simplicity in the user interface.
To illustrate this, let’s compare the conversation window before and after:
The buddy list has also been improved:
The status can now be changed directly from the top of the buddy list
instead of having to interact with a poor popup dialog. (Note that for
the users who hate clicking, the status can also be changed quickly
using commands from conversation windows: /away /dnd /back
The account manager has also been simplified a lot, and is now usable in
a much smaller window:
As exchanging messages is the most important feature of an instant
messaging client, we put a great deal of thought into the way the
messages are displayed. As we have already explained,
we decided to implement the Adium message style
system. This system offers a great flexibility to message style authors
to display the conversation content the way they want.
In order to give users a good out-of-the-box experience, we have
packaged a variety of messages styles by default in Instantbird.
In Instantbird 0.1.*, the display of conversations was very simple
(some may say boring!), and very similar to what Pidgin does. In
Instantbird 0.2, the default message style, called “Bubbles,” is a lot
Messages are displayed in colored bubbles. In a private conversation
with one other user, there’s a background color for your messages, and a
color for the messages you receive. In multi-user chat rooms, there’s a
different color for each participant, so you easily can tell which
messages are sent by the same participant:
In this theme, the display of messages is clear and well spaced out.
This theme was designed to be usable for most users.
A few special features have been added to this theme to improve the
readability of conversations and reduce the waste of space: consecutive
messages from the same person are grouped automatically, consecutive
system messages are automatically grouped and collapsed, and the
timestamps are no longer displayed for each message, but as a tooltip
when a message is hovered.
Because we know one theme cannot fit the needs of everybody, we provide
a few other themes by default.
The “Dark” theme is designed to please people who like having a dark
(almost black) background color in their windows.
The “Paper Sheets” theme is a less fancy alternative to the default
Most of the features of Bubbles are also there, but it takes less space
on the screen (no bubbles), and the colors are lighter.
The margins used in this theme automatically adapt based on the total
size of the conversation area, in order to save space if you decide to
use a very small conversation window.
As we know some people may feel nostalgic, hate fancy stuff, or simply
want to have a very compact message theme, we have included a message
theme called “Simple.” With this theme, all the space is used for the
Finally, a little reminder about extensibility: even though the themes
included by default have been designed to fit the needs of most users,
they may not fit perfectly your personal taste, and that’s why there are
hundreds of message themes already
for you to enjoy trying out. Creating a new
is also very easy.
We care a lot about the stability of Instantbird. Again, the Mozilla
platform has some great tools to help us here.
In the unfortunate event of a crash, a window apologizing for the
interruption in your work flow will pop up, and suggest you send some
anonymous information about this issue to our servers. We can then
analyze it and fix it for a later version, to make Instantbird more
stable for you.
This crash reporting system has already helped us a lot to improve the
overall stability of Instantbird.
Crash detection and protection
In previous releases, the worst stability problem that occurred was a
crash during start up (while automatically connecting accounts). This
was very annoying since it was not possible to use the graphical user
interface to change the configuration of the accounts likely to be
related to the crash.
In Instantbird 0.2, we have addressed this issue by detecting if the
last connection attempt finished correctly, that is, without the
application being quit unexpectedly.
Start up crashes are very rare and you will most likely never run into
one, but if it does occur to you: don’t worry! At the next start up, you
will see the account manager pop up with a message explaining the
situation and inviting you to either retry connecting or edit the
configuration of your accounts:
If the crash occurred after you added an account or changed the
configuration of an account, this account will be the only one that
won’t connect at the next startup, and the message in the account
manager will look like this:
When we identify the cause of common crashes, or when a serious issue is
discovered (for example, an IM network no longer works), we try to
quickly release a new minor version including a fix for the issue.
Instantbird will periodically check for updates and notify you
automatically if a newer version is available. If you accept the update,
it will then be downloaded automatically and applied during the next
If you expect a new version, you can also force Instantbird to check now
for an updates, using the “Check for updates” menu item:
People who want to very closely follow the development of Instantbird
can decide to receive the latest development
daily through this update system. We call these versions the “nightly
builds.” These builds are produced automatically every day so that new
issues can be detected early on, before they creep up into release builds.
Feel free to use them, but watch out! They may not be stable, and if you
decide to use them, you are expected to do so to help us test the
bleeding edge features, not just be a cool kid who’s got the new toy
first. So if there are bugs, please report
them (Filing a
bug: what a bug
report should contain) instead of complaining.