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A blog about the magic which dwelves deep into KMess


GSoC: KMess is IN!

Hi everyone! Today I’ll offer my little blogspace to Daniel E. Moctezuma, our mentored student for Google Summer of Code  2010 :) He’ll explain what’s about to happen in KMess soon… enjoy!

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KMess 2.0.1 is out!

Hello everyone!

I’m happy to announce that KMess 2.0.1 is out right now! (for those who are wondering, it is a Live Messenger alternative for KDE4 😀 )

This release also contains a couple new shiny things other than the usual “fixed this, improved that” mutter:

  • Full hand-writing support! yay ISF-Qt!
  • Synchronization between Messenger’s friendly names, display pictures and personal messages
  • Fixes to the unbelievable MSN server issues of recent history

Now, head on to SourceForge to get it before everyone else starts to package it 😉

Then let us know what you think of it! You can reach us by using our forum, our development mailing list kmess-devel@lists.sourceforge.net, IRC at #kmess on FreeNode, or by using LikeBack: open KMess, go to the Help menu, click “Send a comment to the developers”.

Also thanks to all translators, contributors and testers, not forgetting all users who sent us feedback via LikeBack! Hats off :)

Allowing user feedback with LikeBack

LikeBack is a very effective way to allow your application’s users to contribute actively with your project.

It is composed by two parts:

  • A frontend, the most important part, that which will be seen and used by the users.
  • A backend, which the developers can use to see and answer to what users had to say.

In seven months of activity (we’ve started using it in KMess since february 2009) we’ve received well over 2500 comments: of those, the vast majority was useful to us: this should help understanding how bloody useful LikeBack is.

The flow of comments will be to you extremely useful to understand what your users want: we found that LikeBack really helped in giving the project a direction. It will be *their* direction – which needs to be also *yours*, if you want to keep your project alive! I think that 99% of the time, you’ll find the direction suggested by LikeBack comments will be the best one :)

Now a little tutorial on how it works, and how to install it (it’s not hard!):

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You know that your project is *awesome* when…

…when it takes two thousands, five hundred and thirty-five useful comments to get an insult:

«Why, thank you!»

«Why, thank you!»

Lovely!

We consider this as a great milestone :)

KMess 2.0 is (finally!) out

Hi my 25 readers!

I’m very, very happy to announce that the KMess team has released KMess version 2.0, after more than an year and an half of development!

Here’s some quick screenshots for you (there’s a better visual guide at our site):

The main window of KMess 2.0
The main window.
Chat window with muliple tabs support.
Chat window with muliple tabs support.
The new contact list screen.

The contact list screen.

As you can evidently see if you had KMess 1.5 installed, a whole lot of work went in this release (compare the new with the old).

First of all, we’ve ported it to KDE 4, and it was about time for that! The rest of the stuff is a pretty impressive list:

  • Support to receive and send Ink (hand-written) messages and Winks.
  • Improved custom emoticons management.
  • Options to copy a contact’s email, name, message, listened music and links present in the name/message
  • List of contact events, such as logins and logouts.
  • Open chat windows can be used again when reconnecting.
  • Quick retype of previous sent messages, using Ctrl+Up/Ctrl+Down.
  • MSN connections over HTTP, to deal with corporate firewalls which only allow connections to browse the web.
  • Support to chat with offline and invisible contacts.
  • Support to search for contacts in the contact list.
  • Support to send longer chat messages.
  • Option to choose the browser used to open web sites, Live Mail, and MSN support sites.
  • Support to group all chats in the same chat window (tabbed chatting).
  • Option to select a directory where all received files will be put.
  • Option to choose the interval of ports used for fast file transfers.
  • Option to keep short notes for each contact.
  • Contact List history box showing contact connections and disconnections.
  • Support to Messenger Plus Live’s text coloring and formatting.
  • Support for DBus remote application control.
  • Option to choose a previously chosen display picture.
  • Support for dark KDE color schemes.
  • Beautified long names and messages with a nice fading effect.
  • Drag&Drop support between the contact list and the chat window (invite contacts to chats) and within the contact list (sort groups and move contacts between groups).
  • Chat logs browser.
  • Contact list exporting in XML and CSV formats.
  • Option to show the own user’s display picture in chat.
  • Mixed contact list view, to group all offline contacts in a single “Offline” group.
  • Customizable display picture size in the contacts list.
  • Option to disable the background hummingbird image in the contact list.
  • More options to improve customization of the Contact List.
  • Support for KDE’s KWallet, to store passwords in a secure way.
  • Automatic detection of network connection and disconnection.
  • Option to block notifications when the status is set to Busy.
  • Option to disable displaying of received winks.
  • Automatic same-status reconnection to MSN after unwanted disconnections.
  • Option to disable and hide annoying received emoticons.
  • Customizable toolbars and keyboard shortcuts.
  • Saved accounts manager window.
  • “Now Listening” support for all MPRIS-enabled media players like Amarok.

That was quite a long list, huh? And it doesn’t include the countless bug fixes and improvements to existing features… 😉

Anyway, distributions should be including KMess 2.0 packages pretty soon, so to install it go looking in your package manager first. If they’re slow, compile it: go to our downloads page and click “KMess Source” and then on the Installing link below it to see how! It’s quite easy and quick, some 3 minutes and you’ll have KMess running :)

A final note for 1.5 users: We’ve prepared a simple upgrade script to port your 1.5 configuration over to the 2.0 one, run the mergeFromKmess15.pl in the source tarball :)

If you have any more questions or comments, please don’t refrain from telling us at our forum, on our development mailing list kmess-devel@lists.sourceforge.net, via IRC at #kmess2 on FreeNode, or using LikeBack: open KMess, go to the Help menu, click “Send a comment to the developers” :)

We sincerely hope you will enjoy KMess 2 at least as much as we enjoyed creating it!

KMess 2.0 beta 2 is out!

Hi, yesterday we’ve released our second beta of our next-gen Live Messenger client for KDE!

We’ve as usual put a lot of effort on it, and I invite everyone who uses MSN more than other IM protocols to give it a shot!

As a sample of the countless improved things in this version, here’s a little list of changes:

  • fixed disconnections after many hours of use.
  • fixed losing KDE Wallet passwords.
  • fixed typing notifications not appearing in WLM 2009.
  • fixed resending messages already sent as offline messages.
  • fixed searching for offline contacts.
  • fixed time of arrival of offline messages.
  • fixed contact list group sorting.
  • fixed many memory leaks.
  • improved the Chat History dialog and its integration with KMess.
  • improved drag and drop support in contact list.
  • improved handwriting message sending.
  • improved the file transfers window’s behavior.
  • improved chat session management.
  • updated English handbook.
  • 10 updated translations.

Obligatory shots:

There’s a lot more, specially under the hood; we try to keep KMess’ code easily understandable and well-commented so if you’d like to hack on it, I guarantee it’s very easy 😉 (I’ve actually learned Qt over KMess’ code, writing my first patch ever after less than a week, that had to mean something.. right? Right?! )

Beta 2 marks our very own KDE-style string freeze, so that you’ll be certain that your translations will be still valid when the final release will be out. [This is actually a call for translators! If you can, open up this page and help us, thank you very much]

To take a closer look to Beta 2, our screenshots page provides a nice visual guide on it!

On unrelated news, I’d like to spend a couple words on LikeBack: if you don’t know about it, it’s an awesome way to easily get feedback from your app’s users. We first learned about it from BasKet Note Pads, in its KDE3 incarnation, then I fell in love with it and ported it to KDE4 around October 2008, and fnally put it into action around February 2009. Since then, me and our Sjors have improved it a whole lot: having received our first comment on February the 4th, I can proudly say that as of today May 11th, we’re a tiny bit short of our 1200 reports mark!!

We’re really proud of this, a whole lot of people have helped us improve KMess! We’re listening, and you’ll find that KMess 2.1 will contain the vast majority of your requests and suggestions.

I think I’ll shortly blog about it in a deeper fashion, the 1.2 version released some weeks ago contains a whole lot of sauce, and I’ll explain LikeBack and its history more thoroughly, too.

As usual, if you have anything to say about KMess (or Likeback and you aren’t willing to wait for the next post!), the discussion is open both here and at our boards!

Hello worl..planet!

Hi! I’m Valerio Pilo, one of the developers of KMess – a KDE alternative to Windows Live Messenger.

This is my first post syndicated on the Planet, and incidentally also the first after an entire year of inactivity in my kmess-related blog. Having a lot of readers is quite a good incentive to writing 😀

This post will first show you the next upcoming version of our fav msn client (first beta will be out this week probably), then tell you about a new project we’re slowly starting, libISF, which will be a library to encode and decode Microsoft’s ISF format (the spec is open now).

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Rambling

Lately, an incredible – and probably unrepeatable – series of coincidences has happened. No upcoming exams, a lot of friends sick with flu, little work to do, no girlfriend, cold outside: mix them all together, pour in a cocktail glass, and you’ll get why I’ve been doing so many commits lately.

KMess 2 is coming on quite different from what I had initially thought. I was thinking at it just as a more free playground where to shove all the features I could read in Trac or imagine myself… but it’s more. As I continue fixing the last very small
problems in the code, I keep finding points where we could just throw away some old code – and create something better, faster, prettier instead.

I’m quite excited about the possibilities Qt4 and KDE4 are giving us, and I’m already exploring some of them, like a new contact list with a much improved style, for example. That’s just one example out of many since, as I said above, there’s a lot of room for improvement here and there, simply too much to list!

The downside in all this fertile ground, is that we’re alone seeding it. KMess has always been a small project; but this time, I’m feeling way more limited than when I was contributing for the 1.5 release, because of this. With all the thing we could do now that we have an incredibly powerful set of tools, some excellent network code, and a stable program, we can’t start rethinking everything from scratch because we’re so little developers. This sucks.

However, I’d continue improving KMess even if I was alone!

Regarding the project status, we’re still porting. But now, we’re almost done: here’s a screen grab of the SVN version!

That’s the current SVN version, for the KMess2 branch

There are still a couple glitches with file transfer, the contact list is still plain ugly, and the resource locator isn’t working correctly, but it’s almost done. I hope to be able to finish the port this week… then we’ll be able to start the real innovation 😉

asd.gif

Hi readers! This is my first real post to the KMess blog.. I want today to let you know about the improvement to our beloved client that I’ve worked on in the past week or so.

This is “asd.gif”
asd.gif

 

This, lo and behold, is the first custom emoticon ever sent by a KMess client 😉

I’ve worked really hard on this improvement – I’m an emoticon junkie. I can’t resist. I put emoticons on almost every message I write. I find them very useful to clarify the tone of what you’re writing, and the standard MSN emoticons – even the KMess ones! – just can’t beat the expressivity of an animated picture chosen by yourself!

It allows the user to have a custom set of emoticons for every account. So, for example, you can have an account for your work contacts with serious custom emoticons, and one for your friends and family, with a lot of funny emoticons.

Right now it’s fairly complete: but there still are a couple things that have need of a good ol’ revision before I can “consider it done”. So please, take everything I say and every image you’ll see below, as only work-in-progress drafts. No guarantee that this will be the final look of it – nor even the way it’ll work!

Managing the current emoticons is a breeze. Here’s the Emoticon Settings dialog:

 

custom-emoticon-settings.png
Look Ma! I’ve got a ton of them!

You can rename in place the emoticons, and remove them by selecting and clicking the Remove button. Couldn’t be easier, isn’t it! I was really surprised to find out how simple had been to create the whole dialog, and to make it work.. in like, 10 minutes?, i had read the documentation and written the first code down. And it worked. Flawlessly. I swear, never saw anything simple as Qt.

But let’s go on… There’s an “Add new…” button, too, right? Here’s what appears when you click it:

New emoticon dialog
KISS style

The dialog is live, so you’ll know you’ve inserted a valid image because it will be showed in the area with the KMess logo. The Ok button will enable only when it’s all ready to go, with an image and a shortcut for it. This was a little harder to realize how to make it. Thanks a lot to the KDE documentation team!

Finally, there’s the chat window. This will probably suffer the most modifications, since it’s more than a draft. it’s a pre-pre-pre-alpha ok? You’ve been warned. ^__^

New chat window, yay
Very very ugly, very very alpha chat window

It’s a mess. I’m still trying to find a better way to put the custom emoticons panel in… and there’s also the issue of that stupid sidebar which doesn’t have a scrollbar… the most annoying thing currently in KMess, I say. As a relative newbie to programming, I couldn’t find a way to make it work (yet).

Now that I’ve let you have a sneak peek at the mere looks of it, let’s talk about the internal gears and pinions which compose the emoticons system in KMess. Feel free to skip this part 😀
Internally KMess works out the emoticon themes as other clients (most notably Kopete) do, that is, with XML definition files. They contain the picture file names of the emoticons, and for each one of them, they also contain the shortcuts which translate into it.

As with the current versions of KMess, the standard emoticons set gets updated if you choose another one; you can select a Kopete theme and only the MSN icons that the new theme contains will replace the standard KMess theme. I’ve replicated this feature so it continues work notwithstanding the fact that the underlying code is almost completely changed 😀

In related news, that now you can also load themes with GIF, MNG, JPG images. But be warned, it’s quite certain that Windows Live Messenger won’t be able to view your shiny MNG animated emoticons. Sorry :(

Also, a new emoticon manager takes care of exchanging, loading, modifying emoticon sets at your command, and will automatically guess the file type of your images. Getting that system to work was the most challenging task. Three classes define emoticons (Emoticon), collections of emoticons (EmoticonTheme), and emoticon management (EmoticonManager); i find them to be working well, though I’m still waiting for Diederik’s opinion 😉 There are *without any doubt* still some bugs or things that will need rewriting.. but it’s a matter of time!

Gotta go now.. I’ll probably post again about this new feature, so check back here sometimes

Yay!

Hi KMess users! This is Valerio at the keyboard writing, i hope our readers will enjoy to read the crap interesting articles I’ll write about what we, yours truly KMess developers, are doing with this great program 😀

I hope I’ll be able to post here usability polls, sneak peeks at new features, and whatever I’ll think of, to try enhancing our messaging client… Cya soon!