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Author Topic: Looking for very light IM (ICQ) client  (Read 5047 times)
apankrat
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« on: September 02, 2011, 02:30:15 PM »

Hola comrades, got a favour to ask.

I've been using Trillian since it was first released... and given its rather abysmal quality I don't really know why I did smiley And now that they started to stuff ads into the IM stream it seems like a good time to part ways with it.

Can anyone suggest a light and decently designed IM client?

Something along the lines of Easy Message. I don't really care for anything, but just IM chat. No need for the video, file transfers, smiley packs, skins and what not. Something almost like micq, but as a native Windows app.

Thanks
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skwire
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2011, 02:39:40 PM »

I've used Miranda IM for ten years now (since it was strictly an ICQ clone called Miranda ICQ).  Because it's plugin based, you can strip out all that you don't want.  I use it for ICQ, Jabber, Yahoo, MSN, GTalk, and AIM.  Great application.
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40hz
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2011, 02:49:09 PM »

+1 w/skwire on Miranda IM.

IMO the best of the bunch for Windows.

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apankrat
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« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2011, 04:54:07 PM »

Right on, guys. I completely forgot about Miranda. Now let's see if I can build it on my box so that I can tweak its UI to my liking :-)
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skwire
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« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2011, 05:29:55 PM »

You probably don't even need to bother building it as there are several contact list UIs that you can use with Miranda.  I prefer simple icons and plain-text, so I use the very sparse "Classic contact list" (clist_classic.dll).
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IainB
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« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2011, 07:04:59 PM »

I have a very similar requirement as per @apankrat. I became a Trillian user when they were just starting up and in "The Generic IM Wars" with the chat media providers. (This was at the time when they were all trying to block Cerulean Studios from interfacing with their chat medium by making the thing as proprietary as possible and deliberately making frequent changes to their IM protocol so as to lock Trillian out. All it succeeded in doing was making the users exceedingly pissed off and even more determined to stick with Trillian rather than be captives of the chat medium providers.)

However, if Trillian is going to stick with the model of forcing advertising on its non-paying users, then I want out too.
I had a look at Miranda and Pidgin IMs a while back and will check them out again.
I'd be very interested to read other users' experiences/recommendations re this Q, so as to save me reinventing the wheel.
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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2011, 07:15:09 PM »

I've been using Trillian since it was first released... and given its rather abysmal quality I don't really know why I did smiley And now that they started to stuff ads into the IM stream it seems like a good time to part ways with it.

I have (or rather had) been using it for years also ... but haven't had need for (interest in) any IM'ing in quite some time. Are the ads foisted on everyone? or just the free version? I just started the thing for the first time in about a year and it wants to update...I'm thinking perhaps not??



Miranda does look interesting.
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apankrat
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2011, 08:14:49 PM »

Are the ads foisted on everyone? or just the free version?

There is only free version now from what I can see + some sort of paid service that implements the continuous client idea.

Quote
I just started the thing for the first time in about a year and it wants to update...I'm thinking perhaps not??

You perhaps most certainly right smiley Do not upgrade.

Quote
Miranda does look interesting.

Well... hrm... I don't know. My hopes have sunk after seeing this:



It feels like it was done by a software developer for a software developer.
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lanux128
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« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2011, 08:39:08 PM »

i'm an occasional user of Miranda IM (don't do IM much) but if you're looking for some eye-candy, you may want take a look at Digsbyw.

there are also some Miranda makeover methods which requires custom skins if you want to go down that route..
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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2011, 09:17:48 PM »

Are the ads foisted on everyone? or just the free version?

There is only free version now from what I can see + some sort of paid service that implements the continuous client idea.

Paid, Service?!? (eek!) ...So, the paid version of the app I bought years back has (become useless) been...phased out so-to-speak? Zoiks!



Miranda does look interesting.

Well... hrm... I don't know. My hopes have sunk after seeing this:
 (see attachment in previous post)
It feels like it was done by a software developer for a software developer.

That does look a bit (over engineered) busy doesn't it.

*Shrug* At least it doesn't require an install, so I'll probably play with it a bit over the weekend anyway.
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« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2011, 12:32:32 AM »

i'm an occasional user of Miranda IM (don't do IM much) but if you're looking for some eye-candy, you may want take a look at Digsbyw.

The stuff listed under privacy concerns on the wikipedia page for Digsby does not make me feel warm and fuzzy about it I must admit.
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lanux128
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« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2011, 12:38:54 AM »

i'm an occasional user of Miranda IM (don't do IM much) but if you're looking for some eye-candy, you may want take a look at Digsbyw.

The stuff listed under privacy concerns on the wikipedia page for Digsby does not make me feel warm and fuzzy about it I must admit.

that's why i linked to the wiki instead of the official site so that the OP can make an informed decision. Wink
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apankrat
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« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2011, 02:09:41 AM »

Yep, Digsby is a no go. Thanks for the pointer though.

On a related note, I've been toying with an idea of writing an IM client, so I sat down and sketched a bit of a UI tonight. Just something to play with the look and feel rather than an actual window content and what not - http://drbl.in/bQID. What do you guys think? Is all this extensive skinning an overkill? Should the IM app really stick with a native appearance?
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Jibz
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« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2011, 03:47:54 AM »

I haven't looked into this, but I would imagine the hard part is rather to make your client work with the proprietary protocols? Putting a good UI on top of it is a plus of course.
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lanux128
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« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2011, 04:19:03 AM »

apropos of nothing, i didn't realize that AOL had sold ICQw to Mail.ru, the wiki link contains some pertinent issues regarding privacy and criticisms against the new owners. it might be worth taking note of that.
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skwire
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« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2011, 08:51:40 AM »

What do you guys think? Is all this extensive skinning an overkill? Should the IM app really stick with a native appearance?

Regarding my use of Miranda (and almost any other app), I don't use any sort of skinning with it.  So, yes, I would say forego any skinning and stay with the system's native appearance.
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apankrat
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« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2011, 11:51:01 AM »

@lanux128 - fwiw, ICQ is hugely popular in Russia. Or at the very least it was 10 years ago or so. It was the one true IM system. People would remember their ICQ UINs like they do the phone numbers. A 4 or 5 digit UIN was a status symbol and there was a secondary market for selling/buying these. So it is natural that ICQ got bought by Russians. I doubt the privacy issues now are any worse than when ICQ was under AOL, because there was never any privacy to begin with. The protocol is still unencrypted, so anyone who has an access to the network routes between the user and ICQ servers can easily do whatever "data retention". The actual server ownership matters very little. Caveat emptor and all that.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2011, 10:31:28 PM »

For your own use, you could look at Pidgin as an alternative to Miranda. Both are fine in my view, but personally I use Meebo so I can have multi-protocol IM wherever I go (and have a web browser), including my chat history and all my accounts for immediate sign-in. Supports HTTPS and tons and tons of IM protocols (but unfortunately not IRC).

There are a zillion IM clients. Why write another one? If you go ahead with that anyway, for format support you can look at utilizing Libpurple, which powers Meebo and Pidgin, among others.

- Oshyan
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apankrat
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« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2011, 12:57:38 AM »

Oshyan,

"why write another one" is because I would rather spend time and write exactly what I need than put up with existing stuff that does quite not fit. There are always these little annoyances that stick out and that I wish I could fix. But if I were to start fixing them (assuming it's an open source client), then why not write from scratch? I also come from the network development background - I spent several years writing code for the firewall appliances, routers, load-balancers, etc - so (high-performance) protocol parsing and the client-server stuff in general is something that I feel very comfortable with.

That being said I don't actually manage to get to the writing part that often, at least not recently. I was this close to writing an IM client few years ago. Spec'ed it out, did some UI sketching and what not, but then we had a kid and it got shelved with a lot of other stuff. In any case, I made a fairly detailed list of what I wanted in the IM client, and here it is:

Must have (highest priority)

  •    ICQ support
  •    plain text messaging
  •    end-to-end security based on public key caching (SSH-style)
  •    password-protected, encrypted local configuration profiles
  •    simultaneous login under multiple accounts of the same service
  •    available, away, busy and "other" statuses
  •    support for new contact authorization

  •    simple, convenient and good-looking UI
  •    contact grouping (up to two levels in hierarchy)
  •    easy access to the list of the accounts and their online statuses
  •    full Unicode support

Need to have (high priority, this needs to be in a beta release)

  •    tracking contact’s status history (away/busy)
  •    contact notifications (away/offline -> available, etc)
  •    meta-contacts (merging 2+ contacts into a single UI entity)
  •    tabbed chat windows, consecutive message grouping
  •    modest UI skinning support
  •    visual nudging
  •    auto-away
  •    support for invisibility mode

Nice to have (post-1.0 releases, most important - first)

  •    AIM, Yahoo, MSN support
  •    Jabber support
  •    local contact discovery using Bonjour
  •    group chat
  •    some form of file sharing or file exchange
  •    support for blacklisting contacts

Not needed

These are features typically found in IM clients and that are essentially a result of IM vendors' evolution. These are either a fancy-schmancy stuff or they should be a part of a specialized application. Therefore they should be kept out of the Instant Messaging client.

  •    rich-text-format (pretty formatted) messaging
  •    graphical smiles and sounds
  •    buddy icons
  •    elaborate support for statuses other than available, away and busy
  •    multi-level contact grouping (not sure about this one actually)
  •    audio and video conferencing
  •    remote desktop access

To this list I would now also add chat continuity, which is probably THE most useful and natural feature to be missing from most of IM clients. That's it.

Pidgin / Miranda do not fit the bill - both in the security/privacy (OTR is a bit unorthodox, I would rather have more conventional encryption architecture) and in the UI/usability departments. Meebo is a no go for privacy reasons, though I have to say it is a nice proggy. Adium is very close, but it's Mac.

If you or anyone else has any thoughts on the list, I'd be curious to hear them. I realize, for example, that the privacy aspect does not matter much to a vast majority of IM users, and that ICQ is not the most popular IM medium... but this is not meant to be a commercial product (or at least not a highly profitable one).

Cheers
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Lashiec
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« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2011, 08:50:52 AM »

I find curious that you consider tracking status history or visual nudging (why hasn't this been outlawed is beyond me) than Jabber support smiley
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apankrat
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« Reply #20 on: September 05, 2011, 12:00:15 PM »

That's easy - I have just one contact using Jabber as opposed to everyone else being on ICQ smiley
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