February 08, 2004

Gush, and instant messaging in OmniaMea

Stowe Boyd links to Gush, a new tool which integrates instant messaging and news aggregation in a single UI.

I'm fairly neutral on the entire concept of such a tool; the idea that my IM client should be the place where I read RSS feeds never really resonated with me, although RSS plugins for both Miranda and Trillian have been available for quite a while. Blogging through IM also was possible through the ICQ to LiveJournal gateway (note: page in Russian), but I find that longer posts written in a specialized client tend to be more interesting to read than one-liners which are typically written through IM.

Split Chat offers an interesting solution to the problem of replying in IM when there are several parallel threads of conversation between you and your correspondent (you can choose a specific message to which you're replying, and the reply appears side-by-side with it). However, the extra added complexity makes split chat logs considerably harder to read than regular chronological ones, and I think I'd rather use conventional logs.

However, one thing Gush does undoubtedly right is organizing the chat history into conversations. A problem of many existing IM clients is that they display the history of conversations in a linear list, without distinguishing which messages were sent with the interval of a minute, and which - with the interval of a week. When we initially implemented ICQ import in OmniaMea, it was even worse - individual ICQ messages totally clobbered the today view, and e-mails and other important items were lost among them. Thus, the need to group the messages into conversations was immediately obvious.

Since we do not completely integrate with IM clients, there is no way to detect correctly when a conversation starts or ends (that is, when the conversation window is opened or closed). Thus, we had to use a simpler criterion - if the interval between messages exceeds a certain value (1 hour by default), these messages are split into different conversations, otherwise they are part of the same conversation.

The screenshot shows an example of an IM conversation displayed in OmniaMea. Note that the "From" field shows the contact which started the conversation, and the "Subject" is automatically generated from the beginning of the first meaningful message in the conversation (we have some extra logic to skip greetings, so that you won't have lots of conversations all called "hello" or "hi").

Posted by Dmitry Jemerov at February 8, 2004 04:38 PM | TrackBack

any plans on supporting ATOM as well? :)

Posted by: kerb at February 15, 2004 12:05 AM

Wow) who that still uses icq2lj? It seemed to me, that it is interesting to nobody)

Posted by: Roman Borisoglebsky at April 8, 2004 08:16 PM
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