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A blog about the magic which dwelves deep into KMess


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).

1. KMess 2.0 beta

Since 1.5.1 has been released – a couple months short of a year ago – KMess has changed immensely. It is only barely recognizable! After the porting effort, we’ve rewritten practically everything, bringing it to a whole new level. It is now a lot more integrated in KDE 4,  has undergone (multiple) reviews to improve its usability, and contains a whole lot of new stuff. But let’s directly see a bit of it 😉

Here’s the Contact List window:

new kmess 2 contact list

The new contact list

As  you can see, it’s pretty different than the previous one! And, I hope, better too 😉 A lot of the stuff is customizable! The display pictures can be shown in various sizes or hidden; the contacts can be organized by groups, by online and offline, or mixed (that is, you see the groups with only online contacts, and the Offline group with all the rest, as you can do in WLM). And there’s more!

This is the new Chat window:

New Chat window

New Chat window

This one has received so much love that you would feel sick if you had read the list of commits 😀 First of all, the dreaded Sidebar is gone for good – but who wants can enable nice dock panels which do the same thing. For the rest of the crowd, there’s the nice Editors with the little buttons on the bottom:

Emoticon Editor

Emoticon Editor

Ink Drawing Editor

Ink Drawing Editor

Yes you can draw! At the moment it’s not completely compatible with WLM, it won’t work in 1-on-1 chats, but we’re working on it! (maybe before 2.0…also, see point 2 of this post!)  The square box in the emoticon editor is a live preview of the emoticon :)

Apart from these obvious changes, a ton of stuff was changed under the hood. We now fully support offline messaging. KMess can properly show MSN Plus! color tags, like [b]bold[/b], everywhere (or strip them away, which is the default). You can send, receive and manage custom emoticons with real ease. File transfers are really fast as always (and you can now choose which router ports KMess will need to be open for file transfers!). Accounts management is pretty easier now, too! We use KDE4’s Solid to retrieve network status (but we can cope with its absence). We use KDE4’s pretty notifications for everything – including network errors. KMess now automatically reconnects after a network loss, and is able to save your passwords securely within your KDE Wallet (and of course, if you don’t use it, kmess won’t).

This was just a little starter – the main course will be a nifty visual guide with everything, and it’ll come soon, after the beta release!

2. LibISF

To solve the problem of handwriting messages not working perfectly between us and WLM, we recently started working on a Qt-only library which will be able to encode and decode Microsoft’s once-proprietary format for storing brush strokes.

It will be released under the Lesser GPL license (LGPL) and will really be handy for whoever will need means of loading and saving input from touch-sensitive devices. And maybe also exchanging it with other devices, of course.

Its main features will be conversion from ISF to GIF format and better, to proper data structures (representing brush strokes) which can be used to interpret or show an image off them. It will also be able to transform strokes into ISF data blocks. Being development right at the start, we actually don’t know the direction it’ll take, so I can’t exclude that more features will come :)

It is already available on our SVN at https://kmess.svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/kmess/trunk/libisf .

Please, help us with it! You can contact us via the KMess Board, or via email, or via MSN (amroth at coldshock dot net).

35 Responses to “Hello worl..planet!”

  1. Olga aus Polen Says:

    Why don’t you just help the Kopete devs?

  2. Tiago Cerqueira Says:

    Great!!! I’m looking forward to try kmess again when KDE 4 reaches a higher point of maturity! I used kmess’s svns back in my arch days and they were already awesome…

  3. Ed Says:

    I just downloaded and compiled alpha-2 and I’m impressed. It looks and works better than than Kopete’s MSN.

    Having your own MSN app is great. The problem is that Kopete will always be the default on distros because of its ‘Jack of all Trades’ nature, and so KMess will have a much limited user base (which is a pity).

    Anyway, congratulations to your team and good luck. You earned a new user.

  4. Stefan Majewsky Says:

    The question has already been asked, but in a too general way, so I’ll ask it again.

    What is the technical reason for having a separate MSN interface besides Kopete? If it’s just for picture messages like the one you show, that could be solved through plugins into the chat window that are imported when a MSN chat window is opened.

    BTW do you use the emoticon library in kdelibs?

  5. Draconiak Says:

    its a good news, I LOVE this program, since the alphas was better that kopete in msn, and much beauty, congratitulations devs.

  6. Luis Says:

    Hi! It looks like a great work here. I just have two questions, though. Do you have akonadi integration? Does Kmess get the contact information from it? Having Kmess update my contact photos like kopete does would be a killer feature for me. The second question is where/how does kmess store the conversation history? To have it available through akonadi as mail threads, for example, would be genial. Once again, thanks for your work.

  7. elpreto Says:

    @Olga aus Polen: KMess is more complete, i think they couldn’t merge because of the lot of protocols that Kopete manage.

    KMess rocks!!! go ahead!

  8. pano Says:

    @all people running alpha2
    You really should see “the KMess” that is currently in svn (the future beta release). You will be impressed of how much better it is than the alpha2.

    You can find a guide how to compile from svn here
    http://kmess.org/board/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3100

  9. Tiago Cerqueira Says:

    @ Ed
    Check out the svn versions. A LOT of improvements were made since alpha 2

  10. Burke Says:

    Finally, something to replace Kopete. Ive waited for this quite some time. For me it now just needs a nice native KDE-ICQ-client, and im completely finished with kopete.

    Go On!

  11. mark Says:

    just wondering, why kmess instead of helping the kopete team? (it’s just a curiosity, not a critic.. i like your work and i know that linux it’s about choice :)

  12. hans Says:

    bigger pictures, please :) No, I am not teaded enough to actually try KMess 😉

  13. Diego Says:

    Impressive work! B-)

  14. Amroth Says:

    @ Olga aus Polen
    because it’s a completely different use of IM. kopete adds the lowest common denominator for each protocol, but instead we want to have the best possible MSN experience!

    @ Thiago Cerqueira
    Thanks a lot, we always try to stay busy 😉

    @ Luis
    Sorry, not for 2.0 – we’ve had enough stuff to do for 2.0 already! I’m thinking about 2.1 or 2.2 for akonadi integration… Those will almost complete our effort for KDE integration. For the moment, 2.0 will store chat history in XML form, and optionally HTML or text.

    @ mark
    I personally chose KMess because I first tried to understand Kopete’s code and failed miserably. I was a complete newbie at the time (2+ yrs ago), but even now I see it’s too complex and confuse to be developer-friendly. So I came to KMess, which was amazingly easy to learn and very promising imho :)
    The official reason though is in the answer to the first commenter. We wanted a better MSN experience, not just being able to read and write text messages.

    @hans
    ok ok you’re the 4th one asking for them: by popular demand I’ll use bigger thumbs (still clickable of course)! It’ll be a note for the future, too. 😉

  15. Vide Says:

    @to everyone asking “why not kopete?”… I’m not a KMess developer nor involved at any rate with the program, but I think I know the answer: because they want a Messenger clone, not a multiprotocol IM program. I mean, if you go multi-protocol you cannot clone another program… you have to sacrifice features or look’n’feel.

  16. Vide Says:

    Ok Valerio was quicker :)

  17. Alfredo Says:

    Good news here, but still unusable for me.

    When kmess support webcams and can record webcam streamings like amsn i will change… kopete sucks.

  18. Amroth Says:

    @stefan
    I really wanted to, but it’s problematic since MSN users have that specific set of preset emoticons, and if your KDE4 emoticon style doesn’t have them, or the shortcuts are different, or the style is too small, you see the text shortcuts.

    @alfredo
    It will, probably from the 2.1 release :)

  19. MirzaD Says:

    I use KMess since alpha 2 and monitor its progress closely, and i totally agree with developers for doing KMess and not Kopete.

    Kopete is Jack of all Trades BUT Master of None!! like Konqueror file manager
    KMess is becoming Master of MSN !! like Dolphin file manager

    So the same way that konqueror is not default file manager but dolphin is similarly KMess can make it’s way to KDE default package in time…

    Kopete really offers only basic and ugly (IMHO) support for MSN that is why i turn to KMess.

    And i also agree about code readability, i was able to implement workaround in KMess alpha 2 source in 10 minutes of going trough the code..

    keep on the good work guys…

  20. Diederik van der Boor Says:

    > BTW do you use the emoticon library in kdelibs?
    @stefan: KMess supports the standard KDE emoticon sets in /usr/share/emoticons. Instead of replacing all your shortcuts, we keep the MSN shortcuts but map the pictures to them. So it’s a bit different use the emoticon themes.

    The custom emoticon of your account set is stored as emoticon theme too btw.

  21. mossgix Says:

    As alfredo i’ll switch to Kmess only when it will support webcams :)

    Good work, man!

  22. Dread Knight Says:

    I’m a KDE4 fan that thinks kopete is shitty (atm at least) and uses pidgin.

    I agree with the points for KMess’s own existance. Might try it out soon.

  23. Dread Knight Says:

    I would have proffered an oustanding jabber client (open source protocol)… to hell with the closed source ones and microsoft.

  24. Ruben Says:

    @Dread Knight
    You have a point, but you should also face reality that the vast majority of (non-technical) users uses msn.

  25. Diego Says:

    Psi is a really good Jabber client written in Qt4.

  26. Jean-Philippe Says:

    “first beta will be out this week probably”.

    Not much time left huh?! ^^ Just kidding, take the time needed!

  27. FrancesKo Says:

    Does it supports Facebook chat?

  28. Amroth Says:

    @Jean-Philippe:
    yeah, we wanted to finish the endless alpha status as soon as possible :)

    @FrancesKo:
    Nope, it’s exclusively an MSN client.

  29. Jean-Philippe Says:

    @FrancesKo
    You better ask kopete or pidgin about that

  30. Jean-Philippe Says:

    Will it be out this comming week?

  31. Basta aMSN, passo a Kmess 2 Says:

    […] Screenshots and info […]

  32. aminesoft Says:

    that is very good :)

  33. Carlos Licea Says:

    I’m using KMess svn in Arch. I just have to tell you, it’s amazing, but can we please have support for the Kopete’s chat themes (please o.o ?). That would definitely rock!.

  34. Amroth Says:

    @ Carlos Licea:

    That is planned for KMess 2.1 😉

  35. haxxor Says:

    why not removing the K(de) dep from kmess, or at least, make it optional? a qt-only messenger client would be very appreciated!