[JDEV] Buddy Icon (Avatar) Proposal

temas temas at box5.net
Mon Sep 3 15:28:25 CDT 2001


First, I agree about the backwards compatability and using public xml storage currently, that thought hit me just as I was hitting send of my previous post.  Next, MNG was dropped only because people always say:  "What's MNG?"  It's intent was to provide a more open animation choice over GIF.  If we want to bring it back that's fine, but it still is lacking in many library implementations (although I'm sure that will change quickly).

--temas

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Jens Alfke 
  To: jdev at jabber.org 
  Sent: Friday, August 31, 2001 12:04 PM
  Subject: Re: [JDEV] Buddy Icon (Avatar) Proposal


  On Friday, August 31, 2001, at 02:15 AM, Sebastiaan 'CBAS' Deckers wrote:


    What color depths should be allowed?


  I'm not aware of any rendering implementations that have problems with different color depths. Everything should just get dithered if necessary, right? (This seems like it's mostly an issue for non-PCs, i.e. PDAs, since I can't imagine many desktop computers still use less than 16-bit color. Still, dithering RGB color down to one-bit pixels is hardly rocket science.)


    Where's the bitmap support? You allow PNG but not BMP, doesn't seem right.


  All of these formats are bitmaps, just with different bit depths and compression schemes. All I know about BMP is that it's a venerable DOS file format, but what does it bring to the table that GIF/JPEG/PNG don't?


    Why not use scalable graphics? Or if that's too much of a hassle, why not
    have multiple sizes of the same icon available?


  With scalable graphics I think the issue would be cross-platform rendering support. I think Flash is currently the most compatible vector format (but is there an X-windows implementation?) Adobe has SVG viewer plug-ins for a number of platforms but I don't know how easy they are to integrate into applications other than web browsers. And of course there's PDF, which is trivial to render on Mac OS X but probably more difficult on other platforms :-)

  These would be nice as an option but we can hardly make it a requirement. Many people will want to grab a picture from a webcam or digital camera and import it as their buddy icon, which implies a bitmap format.


    You dropped MNG support, but is it ok to use animated GIF's? AVI/MPEG
    animations? (sounds? :-) )


  Animations would be interesting. Definitely too obnoxious if they were always playing in your buddy list, but I could imagine the animation playing only while you moused over the icon, or in a chat window when a new message from that person appeared. GIF89 is very compatible and fairly compact. AVI/MPEG/QuickTime/etc. are all probably too large to be practical.

  Sounds could be very useful if they were used as message alerts: whenever you get an IM from me (in a new thread) you hear my voice saying "Message from Jens!" (As a bonus this would teach people how to pronounce my name...) Uncompressed 8-bit 5KHz audio (telephone quality) runs 5kbytes/sec, which is OK for an announcement, and various codecs can make that even smaller.

  To provide multiple types (including multiple pixel sizes of image types) we need a way for the receiver to find which types are available and to be able to request a specific type. The latter can be satisfied by storing each type in a separate sub-namespace (e.g. 'jaber:iq:avatar:gif-48' for a 48x48 GIF) but without browse capability on the server you don't get the former. Perhaps that's acceptable degradation, though.

  Thoughts?

  —Jens
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