SourceForge Interview: Open-Source Messaging

Miranda IM screenshot

SourceForge’s “Staff Pick” Project of the Month is Miranda IM, an open source, multi-protocol instant-messaging client. Its creators built the software with efficiency, speed, and community customization in mind. SourceForge sat down with project leader Robert Rainwater, who’s been with the project for a decade, to discuss Miranda IM’s background and future direction.

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Tell me about the Miranda IM project, please.

Miranda IM is an instant messenger application created in 2000 by Roland Rabien (FigBug). The motto has always been “Smaller, Faster, Easier.” Today, the application supports communicating over many different services.

What made you start this?

Miranda IM, a clone of ICQ, was created by FigBug. At the time, ICQ was adding features that many folks considered unnecessary. So Miranda ICQ, which was renamed Miranda IM when more protocol support was added, was born with a minimalist design that focused on communicating over ICQ without any unwanted features. I personally came onto the project a few years later and have been the project leader for the last 10 years. My focus has been to continue to make Miranda IM a simple application with the ability to be as configurable as the user wants.

Has the original vision been achieved?

I would like to think so. Many people use Miranda IM to communicate with one another daily.

Who can benefit the most from your project?

Users who want to communicate with other users and still be able to configure their client down to every last detail.

What is the need for this particular instant messaging client?

There are very few desktop clients that allow you to communicate over multiple protocols simultaneously.

What’s the best way to get the most out of using Miranda IM?

Install it, play around with it, check out our Add-ons section to modify it, and then go to our forums to find help from other users.

What has your project team done to help build and nurture your community?

Miranda IM gets contributions directly from our community. Without the community there would not be a Miranda IM. We are always looking for ways to help our users as much as possible. Our forums provide a great way for users to get involved with the project directly and help other users. Our Add-ons section provides other developers with a platform that provides customizations directly to Miranda IM users.

Have you all found that more frequent releases helps build up your community of users?

Creating a huge user base has never been a priority for Miranda IM. We like to release things when we feel like they are stable. The Add-ons site allows other developers to provide updates outside of our release schedule, so there is always something happening with the project.

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What was the first big thing that happened for your project?

Version 0.1.0.0 added plugin support in 2001, which caused the project to explode with customizations. To this day, plugins are Miranda IM’s biggest feature.

What helped make that happen?

An early Miranda’ developer, Richard “Cyreve” Hughes, created this plugin system and it is the basis for the plugin system in use today.

What was the net result for that event?

The ability for non-Miranda IM developers to create their own plugins and customize Miranda IM with their own vision began with the plugin system. It is the reason we offer the Add-ons section to users today.

What is the next big thing for Miranda IM?

Miranda IM has never reached the elusive “1.0″ release after 14 years. Part of this reason is our aversion to roadmaps. We like to think there are no restrictions and timetables for what comes next. This means there is nothing to hold us back for any feature that we want to build. So only time will tell what that is!

What resources do you need to make that happen?

Our main resource is our community!

If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently for Miranda IM?

Nothing. Mistakes are how you learn. Without them, there would be nothing to push us forward.

Is there anything else we should know?

I started out a regular user of Miranda and a few years later became the project leader. Don’t be hesitant to get involved in the project. Our users are what make this project active after 14 years!

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Image: Miranda IM

One Response to “SourceForge Interview: Open-Source Messaging”

  1. Fascinating. But I abandoned the ICQ environment several years ago because the many solicitations for sex-per-hour kept interfering with my ability to get work done. I’d type a line in office, and get a pop-up that steals focus, block the user, and get another pop-up before I could count to 10 etc, and security settings set on my client, the official ICQ client, were ignored.