What is old is now here!

Finally, I have rescued all my old blog posts from 2007-2010 and imported them here.  If you are looking for old information on AIM, ICQ, AOL or AIM MusicLink, the posts are all here.  It was a trip going back to read all the things I worked on back then.  By now, Google should have re-crawled my blog and indexed the posts.

Happy surfing down memory lane.

The Balance of Openness

I have been meaning to write about Twitter’s handling of UberTwitter and how hard it is to run an API program when balancing that program against revenue targets.  I certainly felt this when I was leading the Open AIM program.  We were constantly debating internally what was more important, owned and operated AIM clients, or the “power of the network.”  Twitter, I think is having some of these same internal discussions now.

For services and products that have open APIs, it is an awesome opportunity to grow your network and delight developers.  APIs work well if they can directly contribute to your monetization through licensing, or indirectly by contributing to the ecosystem.  Where it gets tricky is if your APIs do neither.  Companies start putting in controls and terms that prevent developers from innovating, and it is a slippery slope.

I cannot speak for what is happening at Twitter.  I love Twitter’s API, I have used it for years, and know that without that API, Twitter would not be here today.  I can share what happened with OpenAIM, that early on we were able to monetize through licensing, but never took it seriously enough.  Since we could not monetize indirectly off of OpenAIM, because monetizing AIM was always a difficult task, we started putting limits on the access and rules for developers.  That was a death knell for OpenAIM, especially when Google had opened up GTalk.  Hindsight being what it is, I wish we had pushed harder on the licensing front and basically completely opening up the rest of the program with no strings attached.

For Twitter, I hope they can find that balance that allows 3rd party developers to continue to have the access that they have enjoyed.  Innovation is a great thing, and Twitter has to thank a lot of the developers who have used the platform to build things like TwitPic.

What Happened to AIM MusicLink?

At peak AIM MusicLink had nearly 10M sessions per month on the AIM Windows client.  I am confident to say it was the most successful AIM plugin of all time.  Looking at the latest data, there are still a lot of people who are still using the plugin, for which I am thankful.  It was the community that drove me to make this plugin, and it was the feedback from my old blog that helped drive features.

Looking at the analytics from this blog, it is clear that people are still looking for info on AIM MusicLink.  So what happened to the plugin?  In the middle of 2009, when I was working on AIM, it was decided that we stop supporting plugins in the Windows client.  There were a variety of reasons for removing the support, but as soon as we did I stopped working on the plugin.

So what started out as a test for OpenAIM 1.0 in the JAMS plugin package, became a real user favorite.  I even got a designer to give me a fancy icon for the plugin see at the top of the post.  Before there was last.fm, Pandora, Ping and music scrobbling, there was MusicLink.  Hopefully it made the experience of sharing music with friends a little bit more interesting.

You can still download the latest AIM MusicLink plugin here.

An Old Friend Returns in AIM 6.9

New AIM Logo

New AIM Logo

We pushed live a new AIM build last night that sets the stage for some good things in the near future.  The first change that I am glad to share is that the AIM Running Man is back.  When I started on AIM almost 10 years ago, the running man was the icon for our messaging app and remained so until 2004, now he’s back.  You will see the new running man icon all over the place including OpenAIM, aim.com and AOL properties.

AIM 6.9 also takes your AIM buddy feed to the next level by replacing the orange feed indicator icon with the “favicon” of the most recent update.  For example, if I were to upload a picture to Flickr, instead of seeing the old orange icon next to my screen name, you will now see the Flickr favicon.

New Feed Indicator

New Feed Indicator

AIM 6.9 also supports better ways of finding friends and adding new connections in your buddy list via Add Buddy and our first time user experience.

For OpenAIM developers wanting to build plugins for the latest release, we will be doing a new Open AIM SDK in the very near future with the latest API additions that coresponds to the AIM 6.9 release.

OpenAIM Props and other open items

There have been a few newsworthy items over the past week surounding the OpenAIM program.  Seeing articles titled “AOL’s IM Opens Up While Microsoft and Yahoo Hunker Down” makes me feel really good about what I have been building over the past 10 years.  We are almost at OpenAIM 2.0’s one year anniversary, and we continue to innovate in the space where both developers and consumers are going to benefit from AIM’s openness.

In the above article I mentioned, the article discusses Meebo (an OpenAIM 2.0 launch partner) launching Facebook Chat integration inside Meebo.com.  OpenAIM gets a nice nod a couple of paragraphs later when the discussion moves to messaging services opening up.

Gradually AOL’s AIM network began to get in on the action, first with Open AIM 1.0 (which really wasn’t open at all, as it was primarily concerned with plugins and status updates) and later in 2008 with Open AIM 2.0. The second iteration of Open AIM offers third party web services like Meebo and native clients like Adium a sanctioned way to access the network.

We want to continue to reach out to the development community to give them the best in breed tools so AIM users have the best experience online whether it be via our flagship AIM Windows client or on iChat or on Meebo.

New Developer Website for APIs at AOL

Last week we launched a new home page for the AOL Developer Network.  The page has been cleaned up and navigation is much easier.  One thing we cleared up was the network that the developer network supports including OpenAIM, ICQ, Truveo, etc.  Some of you may notice a different OpenAIM logo.

Some of the improvements you see on the developer network home page will make their way into the Open AIM developer network pages too.

Managing your AIM Buddy Feeds

A lot of users have been asking me about the AIM Buddy Feed that appears in the Buddy Info window.  Some people are wondering how to turn off their buddy feed, while others are wondering if they can do more with it.  First, lets look at where the Buddy Feed appears in the AIM client.

When your buddy has a new feed item an orange icon will appear next to their name:

If you click that icon, it will open up the buddy info window for that user.  You will see something like this:

The area circled in red is the AIM Buddy Feed.  In this area your friends can see what plugins you have installed or if you have updated your AIM Profile.

For those that want to turn off AIM Buddy Feeds, skip the next two paragraphs.

If you are reading this you want to know more of what you can do with your AIM Buddy Feeds.  Our buddy feeds allow you to share with your buddies stuff you are doing outside of AIM and AOL.  If you are on Twitter, Flickr or MySpace you can add those accounts into your AIM Buddy Feed.  The way to modify or manage your feed is to use our Manage Feeds page.

If you are a developer, and are wondering if there is a way to get your content into AIM Buddy Feeds, the answer is “of course!”  In the latest Open AIM SDK available on the Open AIM website, you can access the IAccBuddyFeedManager and create a new IAccBuddyFeed item.  Then using the BuddyFeedManager, you can Push that new item.

If you want to manage the privacy for your own AIM Buddy Feed, you can do this in the AIM client by opening your Preferences and choosing the Privacy tab.  There are checkboxes at the bottom of that dialog for you to check or uncheck.

Sometimes I just like to view all of my friend’s feeds at one time on one page, and we have that too.  We also have a page that consolidates all of your feeds so you can what you are doing .

Get out and Vote on AIM

If it was up to you, who would you and your friends vote for? AIM Vote 2008 lets you cast a virtual ballot for Obama or McCain and then view how the other buddies on your buddylist with this plugin are voting right now.

This morning we published AIM Vote ’08 to the gallery, so get out there and make it known who you are voting for.  The vote total dynamically updates, so you can see in real time the results.

Download AIM Vote ’08 here.

And next week go from the virtual AIM voting booth to the real voting booth, make your voice count.

Open AIM 1.68 SDK

We have refreshed the Open AIM SDK, now the latest version is 1.68.  The SDK allows developers on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Win Mobile to build your own AIM client, AIM plugins as well as AIM Bots.  The SDK supports C++, C-Sharp, VB, and Java.  We have the full change log on the Open AIM developer website, but I want to highlight a few additions here:

  • Added IAccBuddyFeedManager and IAccBuddyFeed for uploading buddy feed data.
    • This allows developers to inject custom items into the buddy feed for each user.
  • On Linux, changed to look for DLLs in system path if not found in working directory
  • Cannot sign on if computer clock is significantly off.

In addition to these and many more features and bug fixes we added a full sample C-Sharp GUI based client called awshbuddy.  This reference application hopefully makes life easier for developers looking to do more with both C-Sharp as well as Visual Basic.

As with any SDK refresh we have updated all our samples and documentation on the developer website.

AIM for Mac

This morning we just pushed live a new beta AIM client for the Mac.  You can check out all the details here, but needless to say we are excited to share this application with you.  This builds on our commitment to developing software for Apple hardware, whether it be AOL on Desktop, AOL Radio or the AIM iPhone app.  Here are some of the features for client:

  • AIM Experience: Users can customize their AIM for Mac experience with AIM Expressions – Change your AIM sounds, wallpaper, emoticon set or Buddy Icon.
  • Favorite AIM Features: AIM File Transfer, Tabbed IM conversations, friendly names, AIM Groups, AIM Blast groups are supported.
  • Easy Access to Mail: With a single click, you can view your mail in AOL or AIM webmail.
  • Speed: Download, install and launch AIM for Mac in seconds.

AIM for Mac is built on top of the Open AIM platform, using the Mac SDK.

Download AIM for Mac here.

As always we appreciate feedback.