Recently released, Instantbird is a cross-platform, multi-protocol Instant Messaging client, built on Mozilla's XUL framework, implementing Pidgin's libpurple for connectivity. This is version 0.1, and already it's off to a good start, supporting all of the libpurple clients out of the box. There are some very obvious awesome things about this development effort:

  • By using open-source, community-driven platforms, they set themselves up to build an extensive developer community rather quickly
  • Beyond that, by using the XUL framework, developers can very easily create add-ons and themes to extend the existing application, just like the user community currently does for Firefox and Thunderbird
  • No separate interface framework installer (gtk) for non-native environments (windows, mac)

This release is lacking so many of the features of mature clients like Pidgin, Trillian and Adium that it's almost not worth comparing them (i.e. you cannot currently delete a buddy from your buddy list). The roadmap lists their 1.0 target as "Feature parity with Pidgin", which may seem a lofty goal, but their initial dot-release roadmap seems to put them on-target to do that, depending heavily on time and community resources.1

The developers are both French, but do a flawless job maintaining the UI in english, which can sometimes be lacking in non-US-developed applications. On the whole, this app seems to have a good start. My only complaint is that I can't seem to get it to connect to my Jabber server at work, but it connects to my GTalk and AIM accounts without any issue. I duplicated my settings from Pidgin, so maybe there's some odd protocol problems with XMPP to our version of Jabber.

  1. There are no anticipated release dates lists, which makes sense since these guys probably have day jobs.

Oct 24th, 2007