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AIM Now (Mostly) Open To Developers 187

Posted by Hemos
gregsblog writes "Today is a historic day at AOL as we announced a software development kit for AOL Instant Messenger. Open AIM will empower you, as the developer, to write custom clients and plugins. For now, lets concentrate on the Open AIM SDK and get into what it can do for you. First, the development kit is written using COM, so plugins and custom clients can be written for Windows in languages like C++, VB, C#, and eventually J-Script. In the near future we will have solutions for LINUX, MAC and Windows Mobile devices. Why is this important? We now have a solution to provide all AIM users and consumers to build their own IM clients and to extend the features of Triton via plugins. Of course all of this is free of charge. How do I get started? Well my team has provided a quick start guide, and tutorials, in addition to numerous coding examples, from the simple to the complex. Our examples are in C++ and C#. What are the limitations? Basically anything goes, with the exception of writing multi-headed clients."
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AIM Now (Mostly) Open To Developers

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  • GAIM (Score:3, Informative)

    by ROBOKATZ (211768) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:09AM (#14857100)
    GAIM [sourceforge.net] allows you to write plugins in a variet of languages including python and C++ (and anything else that can link to dynamic libraries). Of course, I don't really see a massive need for IM plugins. All this announcement means is that we will see a million COM host AIM clients with crappy UIs.
  • Maybe there's no step 3 in regards to instant messaging. With Jabber [jabber.org] being open and being used more and more (Google Talk [google.com] is a Jabber account), with tools such as Gaim [sourceforge.net] (heck, even with iChat you can connect to all IM protocols [allforces.com]), I fail to see how any corp could be making money out of instant messaging protocols...
  • by tcopeland (32225) * <tom.thomasleecopeland@com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:47AM (#14857288) Homepage
    Right on! And with PostgreSQL as a Jabber backend [blogs.com], it scales quite well.

    It's certainly working out fine for indi [getindi.com] so far... routing multiplayer hearts games over Jabber, good times!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:51AM (#14857302)
    Wow...this is completely assinine. They could have spent the past year by actually making AIM open. The IETF did release XMPP/Jabber as an RFC nearly a year ago. AOL should have dropped this library and added support for server to server XMPP connections. They could also have made client to server connections use XMPP. Not only would that allow them to connect to Google and everyone else, they would have no need to release a library that only the script kiddy next door will use in his new VB botnet controller.

    "I was given a bottle of wine. I could see the wine, and they said it was open. I knew better because I was never given a bottle opener to taste the oh so sweet wine."
  • by inerte (452992) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:53AM (#14857316) Homepage Journal
    Definitively. I've seem some phones that can connect to MSN to send and receive messages, but you have to pay for each.

    SMS + IM integration is a gold mine for telcos, and a rogue developer plus a small subscription based website/service can probably pull lower prices. Don't want that happening :)
  • by szembek (948327) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:04AM (#14857368) Homepage
    I've seen the opposite. I have never seen anybody talking on the AIM network with any software other than AIM. Sure I realize people use other clients, but your average everyday user just goes to aim.com and downloads it. I've used gaim before, but now I don't really bother with chat at all. I just wanted to point out that tons of people do use the AIM client.
  • by SWroclawski (95770) <{gro.ikswalcorw} {ta} {egres}> on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:04AM (#14857369) Homepage
    (*sure, you can open source your application, but the end user cannot compile his own version without requiring his own key)

    And this is why the GPL3 draft requires that if you have an application that is GPLed, and if it requires a key to run, that you distribute the key to the application author in order to allow him/her to compile the application in a way that's usable to the end user.
  • Re:MAC? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Frank Palermo (846883) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:09AM (#14857392)
    Apart from all the MAC/Mac jokes, I'm wondering what significance (if any) this has for the future of the AIM client on Mac OS X. The last time the official AIM client for Mac was updated was (according to its download [aim.com] page) on February 18, 2004, i.e. over two years ago. Considering that most people who want to develop an AIM client for the Mac have already done so by using the GAIM core libraries (Adium X being one chief example), what exactly is making an SDK with a small pile of licensing restrictions (you are "not permitted to build Custom Clients that are multi-headed or interoperable with any other IM network" ? Wonder why that is...[/sarcasm]) going to solve?

    I appreciate the gesture, but I think a lot more people would benefit if they'd spend their time fixing up the official AIM client for people who don't particularly like iChat or any of the current F/OSS alternatives rather than releasing an SDK that probably won't spur many/any more F/OSS clients because developers will find its license a bit too restrictive.

    -Frank
  • by Bert64 (520050) <[moc.eeznerif.todhsals] [ta] [treb]> on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:25AM (#14857492) Homepage
    There are already such libraries, libgaim for instance, which support AIM and many other protocols, and which are open source and cross platform.

    Having the sourcecode to libraries is incredibly usefull, if you already developing an app then you presumeably have a reasonable knowlege of atleast one programming language, so you can read the source to the library and get a better understanding of why it performs in a particular way...

    I've quite often beat my head against a wall, trying to debug why something didn't behave exactly as the documentation said it should.
  • Re:MAC? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Helios1182 (629010) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:27AM (#14857508)
    I don't know anyone that uses the AOL client on OS X. Most use iChat, and some use AdiumX. I stick to iChat since I don't use any advanced features and it integrates into the address book and email apps nicely.
  • Not OPEN at all! (Score:5, Informative)

    by capnal (795722) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:29AM (#14857525) Journal
    From AIM's FAQ:

    Q: Are there any restrictions on what I can build?
    A: We tried to make the Open AIM Program as restriction-free as possible, but in order to help protect our network and users, certain rules apply. We have highlighted some below, but please refer to the Developers License Agreement for details.

            * Developers are not permitted to build Custom Clients that are multi-headed or interoperable with any other IM network.
            * Custom Clients developed for use on a mobile device or via a wireless telecommunications carrier's network and/or wireless services require separate licensing and business agreements with AOL. Any inquiries regarding mobile applications should be sent to AIMCommercial@aol.com.
            * Custom Clients designed for sale to a corporate customer base or to serve a corporate employee base require separate licensing and business agreements with AOL. Any inquiries regarding enterprise use should be sent to AIMCommercial@aol.com.
  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:05AM (#14857751) Homepage Journal
    I think that iChat is the "official" AIM client on Mac OS X. Back when it first came out, there was much hoopla about Apple having reached some sort of agreement with AOL, which I assume probably involved a gym bag stuffed with cash or a horse's head in somebody's waterbed, that allowed them to make a non-AOL but still completely interoperable client.

    You'll notice that unlike Gaim, and like the official AIM client, iChat does all the file transfer and direct connect stuff without problems (almost all the time, so basically in the same situations that the AIM program would).

    I think this is why AOL's Mac OS X efforts have been effectively suspended -- Apple is doing it for them.

    And frankly, given what a pile of turds the AOL client always was, I'm quite happy that they leave it this way.
  • by juberti (128850) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:24AM (#14857928)
    Yes. The rules have changed. That is why this is a big deal.

    Any client that properly identifies itself (i.e. does not claim to be an official AIM client and uses an Open AIM key), and conforms to the AIM Developer EULA, will be allowed to use the AIM network, regardless of whether or not they use our SDK.

    Now, the SDK provides A LOT of functionality, including full support for file transfer, image sharing, voice, video, security - things that would take a long time to get working right if you are starting from the base protocol - so I recommend that you use the SDK.

    More info: http://journals.aol.com/juberti/runningman [aol.com]

    Justin
  • by goatpunch (668594) on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:09PM (#14858380)
    My Windows Mobile phone has MSN Messenger built in, uses any internet connection with no per-message costs. I _can_ use it over WiFi, but I'm sure my telco isn't crying about the GPRS bandwidth that it encourages me to buy.
  • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:12PM (#14858414) Homepage Journal
    You know, they still run the aim servers... for free.

    Yeah. Because they wouldn't lose 100% of their non-aol users the day they started charging for aim. Plenty of instant messaging protocols out there that people can switch too. Right now, no one bothers to look for anything else, but the moment they're told to get their credit card, you can bet they're going to hit google to search for something else. And tell their friends.

    They're not doing this out of the goodness of their heart. Most of us who use third party clients don't even realize this, but the official clients has ads. Annoying ads. I'd guess from my failed attempt to convince people to use gaim that most of their users don't care, and use the official client anyway, so they're getting money for it. I'm not implying this is a bad thing, mind you. Good for them. Just saying they're not doing you any favors.

    And they stopped deliberately breaking other clients for the most part.

    Yeah, surprisingly good business decision there. First, it was futile. They would pay their developers to keep breaking the clients, and it'd last the better part of a day before all the other clients were fixed. Big deal, a lot of money wasted. Also, before other clients worked reliably, there was a big deal about cracks to the aim client to remove all ads. Now the people who care about this things, unlike the people I mentioned above, go to the superior third-party clients. Which means they're reasonably sure that everyone using their official client is seeing the ads.

    Again, they're not doing you a favor. If they could get rid of all third party clients for good, they would.

  • by juberti (128850) on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:22PM (#14858526)
    Sure. You can speak the straight OSCAR protocol if you want. It's a lot harder than using the SDK - especially if you want to get p2p stuff like file transfer and voice working - but we understand that one size does not fit all.

    So any client that properly identifies itself (i.e. does not claim to be an official AIM client and uses an Open AIM key), and conforms to the AIM Developer EULA, will be allowed to use the AIM network, regardless of whether or not they use our SDK.

    Of course, I recommend using our SDK. It's robust and fast, and is way ahead of libgaim and other libs in terms of functionality.

    More info: http://journals.aol.com/juberti/runningman [aol.com]
  • by juberti (128850) on Monday March 06, 2006 @01:47PM (#14859424)
    The SDK is the same SDK used by the official AIM clients, so there are no different rules, and you get access to all the features.

    Regarding 3rd party clients - we think that we can build a competitive client. If people don't want to use our client, we don't think it makes sense to force them to do so.

    Regarding how this is a good move for AOL - there are a number of IM networks to choose from, and we think increased creativity and client choice is a way to position our network ahead of the rest. Also, ads aren't the only way to make money. If 3rd party clients feature our VoIP service (which is built into the SDK), we make money off that regardless of what client is being used.

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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