For the longest time I’ve been looking for a good universal messaging app so that I don’t have to run three instant messengers, plus Skype, plus deal with email. And nothing has really fir the bill.
Years ago I originally used Psi, based on the Jabber protocol. I quite liked Psi, and it worked well for awhile, but development started to wane and I really needed something that could keep in sync with ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo protocol changes. (That said.. looking at the site it looks like there is a new development team. Worth checking out.)
Since then I have tried Pidgin, Miranda, and a host of other smaller open apps. They all worked for the most part, but the interfaces tend to be clunky and, until recently, UTF-8/Japanese support has been spotty at best. I finally settled on (and purchased) Cerulean Studio’s Trillian round about the time it was turning the corner from version two to version three.
Trillian was great for awhile. Its got a large database of user-created skins and a variety of useful plugins. The problem with Trillian is that version three came out over four years ago… and has been in a time warp ever since. Its once innovative sidebar interface can no longer compare to other available apps, and actually tends to get in the way. And the next version, Trillian Astra, seems to perpetually be in a kind of secret alpha mode.
(If you comment on the above in the Trillian forums, angry users will flame you with comments along the lines of “great things take time”, etc. WTF? This is not wine. Trillian’s release cycle is now longer than Microsoft’s.)
Recently, however, I stumbled up on Digsby. Digsby reminds me of a streamlined version of Trillian with built-in email, mobile messaging, and social network messaging support (brilliant!).
What I really like about Digsby is its non-intrusive messaging popup. Unlike other messengers (namely Skype), you don’t have to hunt through a host of windows every time you hear a message come in. The popup allows you to reply right there leaving the state of your desktop undisturbed. (This need to constantly shuffle through windows has become a major source of frustration during my workday.)
Finally, I don’t think I’ll have to wait years for updates from Digsby. They seem to be pushing out updates on a weekly (daily?) basis, often in direct response to comments left in the Digsby blog. Now that’s how software should be built.