Refreshed Open AIM Forums

We refreshed all of the developer network web sites this week. This upgrade included a refresh of the Open AIM forums. After feedback both from my team as well as developers on the network, we needed to make some tweaks to give all of us a better experience. With the changes in place, the forums are a great place to get the latest help and info on building on top of the Open AIM platform.

Check out the forums here.

Welcome to the AIM MusicLink Home

After all the feedback and comments that I have gotten over the years regarding MusicLink, I thought I would put together a web page for the plugin. This web page will explain what AIM MusicLink does, all the versions ever released including the change log for each release, and how AIM MusicLink actually works. I even included code samples on how it works for C++, C#, VB, and even Javascript.

You can check out the AIM MusicLink Home here.

myAOL supports Open Social Containers

Today at the Google I/O Conference in San Francisco, Eric Staats, one of AOL’s Principal Software Engineers announced AOL’s support for Open Social Containers during the “Meet the Containers” session today. From Eric’s post over on the OpenSocial API Blog:

Over the next few months, we will implement the Gadget specification on myAOL, and eventually we will support OpenSocial across our products and platforms. By using this single widget application framework, AOL will take a significant step toward becoming a more open service, making it easier for developers to leverage our APIs to enhance AOL products and services with creative new applications, and ultimately leading to a better experience for millions of users.

Supporting these gadgets across myAOL and other AOL services it continues AOL’s commitment to giving both developers and our users the best experience across the web.

The Power of Social Networks

Happy Memorial Day everyone. I wanted to do a quick post this holiday weekend after an article in The Washington Post caught my attention this morning. Researchers have discovered that social networks can have a strong influence on members even if those members are only virtually connected. For example, networks where contacts are trying to lose weight or quit smoking were more successful than going it alone. From the article…”studies and others are fueling a growing recognition that many behaviors are swayed by social networks in ways that have not been fully understood.

What I find interesting is that the article spins the story positively in that health or overall human improvement can be gained from the social networks. I believe that to be the case of people over 25, but in the case of teenagers this can have the exact opposite effect. When I was at SXSW there was a panel on “What teens do online” that confirmed my belief that teens are all about “one-upping” each other via photos, videos, and other content via a social network. So while a 25 year old may use a social network to help them quit smoking, a 16 year old may discover drinking or drugs.

Now before you accuse me of being an old curmudgeon, and that last paragraph I wrote makes me feel that way. I think this study actually is great proof that the power of social networks can change the way that people on the planet interact with each other, and breaks down socio-economic barriers. We certainly have seen some of this coming out of China since the earthquake.

Lets Go Cuse!!

Just wanted to post a little Memorial Day weekend shout out to the Syracuse Men’s and Women’s lacrosse teams who are both in the Final Four. Hopefully the Men bring home the title for the 10th time in team history, unfortunately the women lost last night, but there is always next year.

For those looking for something to watch on tv on Saturday afternoon or Monday afternoon, lacrosse rules as it is truly the fastest game on two feet, and it compliments the Indy 500 on Sunday very nicely.

A couple of plugin updates

AIM MusicLink was updated this afternoon. When I fixed the Songbird plugin issue I accidentally packaged an old version of the AIM MusicLink dll, so this is now fixed. You can download AIM MusicLink version here. The latest version of AIM MusicLink will display a music note in the status message and has support for over a half dozen different music players.

I have also updated the AIM Stats plugin so when all the stats are expanded you will get a scroll bar. AIM Stats can be downloaded here. I will be adding more stats over the next couple of weeks.

Witness the Core

Debugging AIM plugins is always a challenge. If you are writing a plugin for Windows AIM clients that are C++, C# or VB or what we call native plugins, you simply attach the Visual debugger (ctrl-alt-p) is the shortcut key combo, to AIM 6.8. Place your breakpoints in your project and you are all set to debug. For developers writing simple plugins using javascript like plugins via AIM Widget development, debugging requires breaking into JScript.

To be honest, this sucks if the all you are looking to do is peak into the way the Open AIM APIs work and maybe see why your plugin is not getting events. CoreWitness is just the plugin to make your life suck less. It gives you the ability to trigger specific events or dumps properties of objects in Open AIM.

The plugin was written in C++ and has the nice feature of self checking for updates, so as we add new objects or events to the Open AIM API, you will be the first to know. As I say, sometimes the best plugins are the utilities that let you see how we are doing things on AIM.

Download CoreWitness here.

Get AIM Stats and be an imFreaq

We have posted a couple more plugins today to the AIM Gallery that are fun little utilities. The first is a plugin that was written by Gus, called IM Freaqs, that will show you the buddies that you interact with the most. You can easily launch an IM Window from this plugin by clicking on the screen name. IM Freaqs will show you the frequency score, online state (away, online, offline, etc) and buddy icon of each user. We are using the Open AIM API to get a user’s frequency score via AccUserProp_Frequency. This is the same API that was used to create the Google Desktop Gadget.

The other plugin called AIM Stats allows you to view a few different stat categories. You can now view how close you are to the maximum buddy list size as well as group maximum. AIM Stat will also show you how many IMs you have sent and received during the session.

Both plugins require AIM 6.8 Beta 3. You can download the AIM 6.8 Beta client here.

Download IM Freaqs here.

Download AIM Stats here.

Open AIM Developer Contest Results

When we launched Open AIM 2.0 in March we announced a contest being run through TopCoder that was part of the launch where AIM gave away $100,000 in prizes, and some t-shirts along the way. We saw dozens of really top notch submissions and judging them was no easy task.

Last week at the Top Coder Open in Las Vegas we announced the winners, the top 9 got to split the $10,000 each while 20 runners up got $500 each. Winning submissions ranged from whiteboarding plugins to an IM translation tool to a viral video sharing web site via web AIM APIs.

Here is the winners list:

  • IM Remote – Screen to screen desktop sharing over AIM.
  • IM Loud: This plugin reads IMs out loud to the user.
  • IM Whiteboard: Use AIM as a whiteboard and simultaneously draw with buddies.
  • LinkPreview: Thumbnail link previews when hovering over a link sent to you in chat.
  • Free2IM: Provides automatic, on-the-fly language translation back and forth over IM.
  • Infomess: Chat and share videos at the same time.
  • Share-A-Map: Share and collaboratively edit MapQuest maps. Giving someone directions will never be the same…
  • PopsChat: Bound to score points with TopCoder users, this plugin brings AIM chat and features to the TopCoder Arena (a chat and messaging area).
  • FeedReader: An RSS feedreader for AIM.

Congrats to all the winners. AOL is actively running a competition right now with TopCoder, this time for developers wanting to build video search applications via Truveo APIs.

AIM Express 7.0 Beta

Today we are launching a new version of AIM Express. This version, 7.0 is a beta and is built on top of the Open AIM WimAS3 library that we released back in March as part of the Open AIM 2.0 announcement. This Adobe Flash based application allows you to use AIM any where you have an internet connection and not have to worry about downloading the full AIM 6.8 client.

As we posted on the beta website…

Although this application will work with most versions of Adobe® Flash® 9, we highly recommend you upgrade to the most recent version of Flash, as older versions have a serious security flaw. The upgrade is available here.

Check out AIM Express 7.0 Beta here.

Let us know what you think of AIM Express 7.