Bed side manner

I always disliked Gaim on Windows. It traditionally sacked lots of RAM and it was very prone to a crash. But with the betas of the upcoming 2.0.0 version, things got better. It now crashes less often and so the bugs that are left are less critical.

I wrote to Sean, Gaim’s author and maintainer, with a small list of things to be added, most importantly:

1. An option to not show the Buddy List in the Taskbar.
Most IM apps support this. And the Linux version of Gaim supports this too via a plugin. But the Windows version does not have this luxury.

2. Remember IM window positions on the screen.
I even told him that I could live with less: a global setting for all IM windows that gets its value from the last opened window instead of a per-contact-window-position setting that’s more difficult to implement (and then tile windows only if a new window pos up on top of an older one).

Right now, the current scenario is rather gloomy: I click on a contact and the window opens on position 0,0 in the screen. I move the window where I want it to be. We finish our chat, I close the window. I click again on the same or other contact and the window opens again at 0,0. Usability feels so ’90s.

And this is not to mention other basic problems like a new conversation window stealing focus from your current application (it just happened right now, as I was typing this, the cursor jumped on the second screen and focused the chat window!), or the fact that if you copy/paste a lot of text in a chat window the application does not tell you that your text did not arrive on the other side. I am not talking about bugs here, or about video and audio support and otherworldly features. I am talking about application behavior. These are all problems that were common in pretty much all IM apps about 4-5 years ago! But things progressed. Gaim hasn’t. It still plays catch up after so many years on basic functionality and behavior issues, let alone real features like video support and more compatible file sharing!

After a long conversation today, it is pretty clear that he is not interested in adding the two features above and moreover he did not have the courtesy to at least let Daniel, the Windows maintainer, to decide if these features are needed for the Windows users in particular or not. He eventually tried to put the workload of the features asked to other projects and then he replied to me with a rather bone-headed and subsequently insulting way:
You should configure your window manager to put conversation windows where you want them.“, and when I asked him “and how do you do that exactly on Windows Sean?” he replied “”.

The guy does not get it. He now gets paid to do Gaim under Google’s payroll, and while he still has lots of freedom in the app’s decision making, he should also think more broader in terms of user support and features rather than Gaim as the hobby he used to do when he had no job. Of course, this is still his app and I respect his freedom over it, but I also have the freedom to continue using Trillian (even if it deprives me from GTalk, Jabber and SIP Presence), so I guess we’re good.


Edwin wrote on January 30th, 2007 at 7:54 AM PST:

Personally, under Windows, I prefer Miranda-IM over Trillian (granted, I have no experience with Trillian Pro, only the basic version). It also has support for Jabber, GTalk and SIP (thru a plugin). Give it a shot.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on January 30th, 2007 at 8:02 AM PST:

I can’t stand Miranda, sorry.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on January 30th, 2007 at 9:22 AM PST:

I re-installed the latest version of Miranda to give it another chance, and it’s as bad as I remember it. This thing sucks, it’s worse than Gaim. It feels like the official ICQ app somehow, crammed.

There are no bold/italics/colors when you type a message, I get only an initial sound when someone IMs me and not for any subsequent message, I get no Gmail support out of the box (I need both jabber and gmail as separate accounts), and there are no mail notifiers by default. I have to install plugins that APPARENTLY they are not compatible all the way through with newer versions of the app (Miranda breaks compatibility it seems pretty often). Additionally, you have to precisely target with your mouse the thin text entry strip instead of just clicking anywhere in the window and let you type (Trillian does that and Gaim too I think). Or when I click a contact in the contact list to give it focus in the list, and then I move the mouse in another app, the focus disappears instead of turning gray. It’s small things like these that makes it clear to me that Miranda is simply not polished.

In other words, this application is a bloody mess. The only plus side it has is that it supports my #1 and #2 points that Gaim doesn’t.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on January 30th, 2007 at 8:41 AM PST:

Sorry Peejay, this is not what I want. That icon only shows/hide the buddy list, but what I want is to NOT have an entry in the taskbar, no matter if the buddy list is shown or it’s hidden. This is how most IM apps do it. WinGaim cheats its way through, it doesn’t have a real support for this, while the Linux version has a plugin for it.

Thom Holwerda wrote on January 30th, 2007 at 9:46 AM PST:

I *love* Miranda. It is clean, fast, and to the point. It’s not filled with useless fluff like Trillian, and it does not suck as much as Gaim.

The only thing I miss in Miranda is support for custom MSN smileys. Now I run Miranda and MSN Messenger side-by-side.

peejay wrote on January 30th, 2007 at 12:34 PM PST:

1. An option to not show the Buddy List in the Taskbar.
Most IM apps support this. And the Linux version of Gaim supports this too via a plugin. But the Windows version does not have this luxury.

Unless they removed this in the 2.0 series (I’m still running 1.5, I think), it does have this luxury. ;)

Turn on the plugin that shows the icon in the status-icon area and then you can double-click that icon to show/hide the Buddy List (removing it from the Taskbar when hidden). Clicking the minimize button will still minimize it as usual (to the Taskbar).

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