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09 August 2012, 10:46

Instantbird updates with important changes inside

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Instantbird logo Version 1.2 of the open source Instantbird instant messaging (IM) client is now available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The latest version has been ten months in the making; a large part of that time has been taken in moving to share code with Thunderbird 15, currently in beta, which will also offer instant messaging features. Because of this the developers note that there aren't any major new features, but there are a large number of improvements to existing features and numerous under-the hood changes.

Most notable of those under-the-hood changes is the repositioning of libpurple. The libpurple library provides instant messaging capabilities to many applications including Adium and Pidgin, and the original InstantBird depended heavily upon the library. Libpurple was, though, licence-incompatible with Thunderbird. The developers have had to remove the Instantbird architectural dependency on libpurple to enable the code-sharing to work, but are still making use of libpurple for many protocols in Instantbird itself.

The work with Thunderbird also meant that the developers had to bring forward a number of "long standing side projects that were interesting for Instantbird, but not immediately required" such as new JavaScript implementations of XMPP, Facebook Chat, Google Talk and IRC.

Zoom Instantbird on Mac OS X
Source: Instant bird
Instantbird 1.2 is based on version 14.0.1 of the same Mozilla platform used by the Firefox and Thunderbird projects, and features support for the Bonjour protocol. Improvements, such as better tab completion of nicknames, have been made to the user interface for multi-user chats. The log viewer can now display messages in a conversation view and, to improve security, account passwords are now stored using the Mozilla password manager. Other changes include IRC enhancements, better system tray integration, an updated account wizard and improved accessibility.

The cross-platform Instantbird client supports a wide range of services including AIM, Facebook Chat, Google Talk, Twitter, MSN Messenger, XMPP and Yahoo! Messenger. Add-ons can be installed to provide support for other IM protocols and features. The developers note that, because of platform changes in version 1.2, Windows 2000 and Windows XP prior to service pack 2 (SP2) are no longer supported.

An overview of the new features, including a full list of changes and known issues, can be found in the change log and in the release notes; at the time of writing, the project's roadmap has yet to be updated. Binaries of Instantbird 1.2 for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, as well as source code, can be downloaded from the project's site. Instantbird is licensed under the GPLv2; however, as noted on the FAQ page, most of the source code is also licensed under a Mozilla-style tri-licence (MPL 1.1/GPL 2.0, LGPLv2.1).

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