Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pidgin and the status and protocol icons

Ok, so by now everyone knows that Gaim has become Pidgin. Well, the name isn't the only thing that changed. Pidgin has decided to demote the protocol icons to second-class citizens. I love it. Being one who uses IM for communication, I find the protocol information almost completely useless.

Many users have complained about the lack of protocol icons. Ticket #414 is a prime example. There are others that have been opened and subsequently closed as duplicates, including at least one that I personally slammed shut within 45 seconds of its opening. I'll share my personal views on a few issues brought up as arguments to have the protocol icons back:

File transfer, you say? What's that? No, seriously! I don't use file transfer. No one on my buddy list ever sends me files. They use web servers, e-mail, or even sftp. Granted, for the most part I have much more technically inclined friends than most IM users. I will admit that I have occasionally taken the lazy road and attempted to send a file over IM; these attempts are futile as the only people I would send files to use XMPP or Yahoo! Messenger. Pidgin's file transfer support in these areas is somewhat lacking, and that's fine for me. I have a virtual private server from Steadfast Networks that I can host whatever legal content I desire on. I also have access to a dedicated server, also from Steadfast, and can place files I wish to share there as well.

Work vs. Personal. Doesn't apply to me currently but has in the past, so I do have an opinion. Pidgin has supported the notion of buddies and contacts for a very long time. Sean Egan, the lead Pidgin developer, prefers to call contacts "Person"s now. Adium and Trillian call them contacts and metacontacts, respectively. The simple answer to this is to use two contacts (or metacontacts if you prefer) for each person. One of these contacts would be for the personal accounts and the other for the work accounts.

But I want to see it! Wah. I want to get rid of the clock for away, but we don't all get what we want. Suck it up. I was initially against this change myself, but after using Adium on my powerbook and macbook for a while, I had gotten used to the lack of protocol icons. After a couple days I adjusted to it in Pidgin as well and learned to really like it.

Were it not for wanting to avoid being the root cause of trouble, any time someone comes into #pidgin whining about the protocol icons I would point out that each and every user has the freedom to do one of the following: a) suck it up and live with it; b) fork Pidgin and take it back to the old Gaim look; or c) find another IM client--there are many clients available to choose from.

I think this ends my rant on this subject for now. I would like to state for the record that the views and opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views of Pidgin, Finch, libpurple, Adium, Instant Messaging Freedom Incorporated, their developers, members, and board of directors, or any other software package or entity mentioned herein or related to this issue in any way.