[JDEV] Jabber Client Design Tutorial

Jens Alfke jens at mac.com
Tue Sep 25 12:34:17 CDT 2001

On Tuesday, September 25, 2001, at 02:51 AM, Michael Brown wrote:

> The main problem was that I needed a three-phase icon (for when you get 
> an event from someone in a collapsed group), and couldn't think of 
> anything beyond the + and -.  Also, to replicate the +/- style usually 
> means showing the tree branches, which takes up horizontal room, 
> resulting in wasted pixels.

You can indicate activity within a collapsed group by blinking the group 
title or something like that. And I think that using the platform's GUI 
is generally more important than wasting a few pixels. (Trees without 
sufficient indentation are actually really hard to follow, I think.)

> But is it useful to display the current resource on the client?  Or is 
> it ok to just have it in the settings?

It is very useful to display in the client! For example, it lets you 
tell at a glance whether one of your co-workers is in her office or is 
telecommuting from home.

> I think each user should be displayed only once...and events should go 
> to the resource with the highest priority by default, but it should be 
> possible to send to resources with lower priority.  But does this 
> include offline resources?

This depends on two things that I'm frankly not sure of:
* What happens if you send an IM to a specific resource which is 
offline? Does it bounce, does it go to the highest-priority online 
resource, or is it queued until that resource logs on? If the latter, 
then there might be a use in IM'ing an offline resource.
* What is the presence of a gatewayed resource like a pager or 
cellphone? Obviously Jabber doesn't know when you turn your phone on or 
off, so the presence can't update accordingly. Does the presence always 
get shown as available or unavailable? If the latter, there is 
definitely a need to be able to message such an offline resource.

> Sucks why?  "They all suck" is a little vague.

Suffice it to say that my primary gripes are that they don't show rich 
enough status info, and that the chat view is really impoverished (it's 
basically just a plain-text telnet window, maybe with some boldface or 
colored text if you're lucky.) And none of them really seem to make good 
use of avatars (apart from the really experimental ones like The 
Palace.) I think avatars / buddy pictures are very important -- out in 
the real world a huge fraction of people think best visually rather than 

Yeah, there are slight differences between AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, etc., 
but really they're all pretty close to being carbon copies of each 
other. For the most part developers are just cribbing from existing 
clients rather than Thinking Differently.


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