How to NOT design an application

I tried to give another look at Miranda IM. Only to come across in a nightmare.

The application comes bare bones, but this is not a good thing in this case. You see, you can extend the functionality of Miranda via plugins. In fact, the whole application is one big container for plugins. It’s a nightmare. You want sounds? You got to download them (and I thought it had them, because all the sound options were checked). You want smileys? You need to download a plugin that ENABLES smileys and THEN download the smileys. You want rich text support? You first download an engine for it and THEN you download IEView (another plugin) and THEN you download a theme that enables rich text. You want two jabber accounts? You go to the miranda folder, navigate to the plugins folder, and then you copy the jabber.dll to another name and restart Miranda!

And all that, under a vast pile of options and checkboxes. We are talking about the heaviest application you will ever see, in terms of checkboxes and option that some are simply nitpicks while others that should have been there by default are unchecked.

To make the whole story short, I worked on Miranda today to make it as good as Trillian or Adium, or even Gaim, downloading plugins and undestanding how it works. I started working at it at around 1:30 PM and I stopped at around 6:30 PM, without taking my eyes from it. After 5 hours, I got an intense headache (I had to take an aspirin) and I still have a Miranda installation that simply doesn’t satisfy me.

You see, I had to install the tabrsmm and schriver plugins with IEView in order to use Miranda in a more sensible way, but they don’t do what I need either. When I use tabsrmm, I don’t have access to avatars (they simply don’t work, no matter what option I enable). When I use schriver, I can see avatars but not from all protocols and only few protocols can see MY avatar (yes, I have the right image setup alright). Additionally, schriver does not come with rich text support — at least none I can see.

One other problem is that you can’t simply create a new message for a person who is not in your contact list (Adium’s is really nice). You will have to go through an elaborate “find” window. The only good things about Miranda compared to Gaim is that it does save the window chat positions and it doesn’t show the buddy list in the taskbar.

I know Thom loves Miranda and I might use it simply because I spent the time to almost make it work for me too (plus I have a SIP plugin working via it) but most people are far from spending time to understand where to find what and then configure it to death. Miranda is all of what it could be wrong in application design. If my time was money, Miranda just cost me $35, and that’s according to the MINIMUM wage! How much is your time worth?

Update: Some screenshots to show the avatar problem.

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