[JDEV] Jabber Client Design Tutorial

Peter Millard me at pgmillard.com
Mon Sep 24 12:13:59 CDT 2001

Michael -

I have lots to say about your "guideline" and some of it has already been
said by Temas + Julian (which I agree) with.

I have struggled a lot lately on various projects that related to GUI
design, and really what a lot of it comes down to is what a specific person
likes best :) You obviously find the ICQ interface to an IM client easy to
use and efficient, while some, like temas and I can't stand that kind of UI
design. Others like AIM, and when I set out to design winjab for _myself_ I
prefer'd something more akin to an email client. Much of my personal design
stems from the way that I use windows and what I wanted. I could really care
less what other people think of it and am continually astounded that so many
people continue to download it.

I think variety is the spice of life, and what I read from your document
(which is potentially not what you were trying to say) is this: All jabber
clients should look like ICQ. I think this is of course bogus, since i can't
stand that specific UI. I applaud you for making a client that looks and
feels like ICQ for the other folks that share your opinions and really like
and love the ICQ UI. But IMO, there shouldn't be anything out there that
even remotely "dictates" to the world what a jabber client should look like.
For example, what about a javascript client? or a client thats embedded into
a frame of a web page, or just a console app?? Those types of applications
imply a very different type of client that you've layed out. Perhaps you
should re-label your doc "Making a jabber client for a drop-in replacement
for ICQ" ??

If you'd like me to go into more detail, please let me know...  I'd be happy
to share what thoughts/designs I disagree with in your doc, but I thought
I'd fire this off as more of an "general feel about UI design on clients".

Peter Millard

----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Brown" <michael at aurora.gen.nz>
To: <jdev at jabber.org>
Sent: Monday, September 24, 2001 2:51 AM
Subject: Re: [JDEV] Jabber Client Design Tutorial

> > Julian (x-virge) and I were discussing client design
> > yesterday and I think you are a prime example of
> > our discussion.  There is a problem with Jabber,
> > in general it's not everyones first IM client.
> Great!  I've always wanted to be a prime example :-)
> It's true I guess, but it's not the only reason that people are turned off
> Jabber.  Really, the Jabber clients are very immature compared to the
> clients for the commercial services.  This is not meant as any disrespect
> the client authors - none of them have the resources of AOL or Microsoft
> behind them, but this doesn't matter to the end user.  To convince them to
> switch services, the clients have to be at least 90% as good as the one
> are switching from.
> Also, the argument about switching from one of the proprietary services
> applies to switching between Jabber clients, so it would be nice to have
> some sort of consistency between them if possible.
> > Users have generally been on another large network (AIM, ICQ,
> > MSN, Yahoo!) before they come to Jabber.  Despite their not
> > liking the system (that's why they came to Jabber isn't it? ;-])
> > they tend to like their client, usually because they are comfortable
> > with it.
> That's true in some cases.  My reason for wanting to move from ICQ to
> is more political than dissatisfaction with ICQ in the first place.  I
> prefer that Jabber would become a system that attracts users by what it
> to offer, rather than just waiting for people to get sick of their
> system.
> > If i had to guess, by reading your doc (which I did),
> > you come from ICQ.
> If you had read my doc there should be no guessing involved.  I am clearly
> biased toward the ICQ interface as I have said since it is the one I have
> used the longest (as it was the first one available), but that is not to
> that I have never used any other products.  I use Lotus Sametime all day
> work, and have MSN installed.  At the moment I am using Go Messenger as my
> Jabber client, and have used JabberIM quite a lot.
> > Now I say this with absolutely no direction to you, but I find
> > ICQ's UI absolutely atrocious, even AIM's is pretty wicked,
> > so is Yahoo!, MSN is partially acceptable, but has many
> > disparities.  I say all that from a purely UI centric view.
> I was hoping for something a bit more substantial I have to admit.  Saying
> "xyz is atrocious" is not really productive, unless you can back up your
> opinion with examples, and better options.  ICQ's interface is a bit
> confusing for a first time user, I have to admit, but for power users it
> great.  AIM and MSN are much more basic clients, since their services lack
> many of the features that ICQ and Jabber offer - such as offline
messages -
> but there are things that we can and should learn from them.
> > The idea of a doc to help get people rolling
> > beyond the protocol is a great idea and there are many
> > odd things about Jabber that merit UI discussion (iq:browse,
> >  it could easily have a browser view like winjab, but could
> > also be a simple tree view like the explorer sidebar), but I
> > would encourage you to weigh in many options, not a
> > single view.
> Sure - more opinions the better - that's the whole aim.  That and to give
> client developers ideas that they may not have thought of.  Client design
> doesn't have to be as black and white as the protocol, but there are
> definitely some rules you should go by.
> Let me look into iq:browse, I'm not exactly sure how it is used or the
> way to present it.
> > Open it up, and don't suggest that only one thing
> > is correct, because you never will please everyone,
> > especially in the IM world.
> Never aim to please everyone...
> Michael.
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