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
with one student
Mozilla has been gracious enough to allow
us to participate this year as part of their mentoring organization. The
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
as well as code and a
blog are available to track this project.
- 0.3 alpha 2 released! Give it a
try and let us
know what you think!
- Contacts now show the list of the buddies they contain (as well as
their online status) in the tooltip.
- Windows (and Linux) users can now minimize to the system tray (we’ve
integrated the popular MinTrayR add-on). Note that by default
Instantbird will minimize to tray when the “x” is clicked, to quit
the application choose “Quit” from the File menu or right click on
the system tray icon and choose “Quit”. This behavior can be changed
from the preferences window.
- Alphabetical sorting of group names (bug 366) and contacts (bug 343).
- You can now quickly jump to the n-th tab using <modifier>+<n> in the
conversation window (bug 496), where <modifier> is ctrl on
Windows/Linux and Command on Mac.
- The conversation tabs styling has been updating to match Firefox 4
(bug 768), although we’re still working on getting some of the Aero
glass effects in.
Screenshot of the ongoing work on the Windows Aero theme, but also
showing the already finished new conversation and contacts list UI.
- Users can now set their buddy icon and the display name of their
accounts right on the contacts list (bug 334).
- The Conversation UI has received a major overhaul to show the buddy
icon, display name and current status of your contact. In addition,
you can switch the buddy you’re talking to by clicking on the
protocol icon (bug 744).
- Message themes can also properly show the user’s own icon, go check
- A help command (‘/help’) was added to quickly and easily see which
commands are available for the current conversation (bug 691).
- An ‘icon-changed’ notification was added for when the user updates
their buddy icon.
- The UI code has been moved into the ‘content’ directory inside of
omnijar (this will affect developers who have been unzipping omnijar
to edit code).
Known Issues with Nightly Builds (0.3a3pre)
- Commands do not work in protocol overrides (i.e. GTalk, Facebook)
- Twitter dumps too much information to the error console (bug 681).
- The user icon may not appear anymore on some protocols (ICQ/AIM/?)
after restarting the application (bug 783).
It’s been over two months from our last status update and a lot of
changes and updates have occurred (from
Below we list changes for the nightly trunk builds of Instantbird (0.3a1pre).
- Basic support for Twitter was added (bug
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
For all operating systems, the status bar of the conversation window
is now automatically hidden when the window is made
- After quite a lot of debate, the wording of the option for when to
create a new conversation window was updated (bug
line breaks on all systems was fixed so Windows logs can be viewed in
- The conversation window can now be minimized with the ESC key (bug
- Support for Windows CE was
- The themes preference pane now shows if themes are disabled or
- Multi-user chats now show an disconnected icon when offline or after
leaving a room (bug
- libpurple has been updated to
- Localized strings with a keyboard accelerator were not localized
properly in the ‘Join Chat’ dialog (bug
- For Developers:
- Release 0.3 alpha 1.
- Florian is attending
FOSDEM, where he’ll show
Instantbird on Sunday, February 6th,
2011 in a talk
about XULRunner Applications entitled “Instantbird and Conkeror — A
view from the authors” (Axel Beckert will be discussing Conkeror).
- Research into setting up a non-profit organization.
By the way… Happy new year! Yeah… we are late .
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
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
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.
If you ever tried to *emphasize* words in a plain text chat, be
happy: we are displaying plain text formatting now, such as *bold*,
/italics/, underline and |code| (bug
We made conversation tabs look more native on Mac, taking advantage
of a suggestion from Markus Stange:
The old flat look:
Now with a nice gradient in the title bar:
If you have any other ideas how to make Instantbird more awesome,
feel free to contact us or
to file an enhancement request on our
Stuff for devs, stuff that matters: we’re using
now and were able to reduce the number of lines used to get XPCOM
services by 2/3.
Brainstorming: some brainstorming about
nicknames (among other things) happened on our IRC channel,
summarized results and ideas can be found in the
- We’re planning to release Instantbird 0.2.0.1, which will include
security and stability fixes for our current stable release.
Additionally it will be available in a few additional locales that
were finished soon after 0.2 was released.
- We’re planning to release a 0.3 alpha 1 version, which will include
the changes mentioned above and some more visible changes.
- Carrying on the task of getting a new Mac build machine and switch
Mac build from PPC/i386 to i386/x64.
- Setup a nonprofit organization to make money matters related to the
project transparent and to be able to accept donations.
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
- I’ve spent some time analyzing the crash reports we have received
after the libpurple update. I
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
- On Mac, the mozilla-central switch from ppc/i386 universal builds to
i386/x64 universal builds caused some breakage in our nightly builds.
- For now, we have reverted to producing ppc/i386 builds, following
the direction taken on comm-central.
- However, we are aware that current nightly builds are pretty
broken when run on a PPC machine.
- We will switch to i386/x64 universal builds as soon as we have a
new Mac build machine that can run Mac OS X 10.6 (the current
nightly builds are compiled on a PowerMac
- I wasted a disappointingly large amount of time trying to buy a
recent used Mac Mini on ebay, dealing with the confusing messages of
an inexperienced seller. Transaction finally canceled today, back to
square one .
- Some time spent trying to understand issues with the update system,
with our servers, and our buildbot slaves. No exciting details to
report about this.
- Various fixes:
- Emoticons will no longer annoyingly appear in URLs. This was
- The issue mentioned previously about message themes installed with
the new add-on manager is
- The ‘themes’ icon in the preferences dialog has changed (bug
- Land the new buddy list backend, and start implementing new features
- Have an interesting example of a protocol plugin implemented in JS.
- Setup a nonprofit to make money matters related to the project
transparent, and to be able to accept donations.
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
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
- 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.*).
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.