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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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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:06AM (#14857092)
    Without advertising, how do they reach step 3?
  • by meringuoid (568297) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:08AM (#14857097)
    ... I mean, we've only been using Gaim for about five years now...
  • by ihuntrocks (870257) <ihuntrocks@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:17AM (#14857131)
    The overall effectiveness of this will of course be determined by the users who are writing their own clients/plugins. Your mileage may vary. However, I do see this as a positive step forward, if only in an academic sense. With a major company making such an effort to have their software available for community modification, with tutorials and examples, I'd have to say that this is a nice step away from the monoculture software development. Even if you can't get anything truly useful out of it, it is interesting to take a look at what is offered and see what you might be able to learn from it. Never hurts to experiment.
  • by danpsmith (922127) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:17AM (#14857132)
    Well, actually gAIM has a few problems. I've noticed direct connect and file transfer seldom work on it. Maybe this will help fix that.
  • by chill (34294) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:18AM (#14857138) Journal
    "Developers are not permitted to build Custom Clients that are multi-headed or interoperable with any other IM network."

    The definition of "almost, but not quite totally useless" seems more appropriate.

      -Charles
  • by meringuoid (568297) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:21AM (#14857150)
    I've noticed direct connect and file transfer seldom work on it. Maybe this will help fix that.

    Having had time to RTFA, I'd say it's unlikely the Gaim developers will touch this release. The licensing terms are incompatible; among other things, it forbids the creation of clients that are interoperable with other networks.

    One might try arguing that a Gaim plugin using the AOL code does not in itself violate that - it's the end user who breaks the rule when they load in plugins for other networks - but I somehow think that won't fly in court.

    I notice you also need separate licensing to create a client that runs on a mobile. Hmm. Something to do with mobile operators not wanting to lose all that SMS revenue from people using AIM instead, perhaps? ;-)

  • libgaim (Score:5, Insightful)

    by babbling (952366) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:30AM (#14857197)
    From the Gaim Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]:

    Recently, the Gaim developers have started to separate the core code--which handles things such as network connections and messaging--from the GUI code, which controls how these actions are presented to the user. After the code split is complete, it will be possible to write client programs using a developer's GUI library of choice. The core library produced by the split will be called libgaim; an in-development but stable version of this library is already in use in the Adium, Fire, and Proteus clients as well as the Meebo web-based application.

    So, in other words, AOL are going to have something much more limited than libgaim (AIM protocol only) available in the "near future"? Uhhh... congratulations AOL! Now bugger off, you jerk-burgers!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:34AM (#14857214)
    Phase 3.

    Spyware, malware, adware. Once AIM is open to anyone's plug-ins, they will be steathly inserted from webpages and e-mails. You will get all kinds of plug-ins, many of which you won't know about. Those are the ones who make it to step 3.

    -Lemur
  • by Bogtha (906264) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:35AM (#14857221)

    This will be a boon to those doing internal company projects who would like to connect to IM to send messages which need to be received in real time for monitoring things like servers or some other process where a traditional monitoring tool might not work.

    Why would a company choose AIM over the IETF-ratified XMPP standard, Jabber? There are open-source Jabber servers and clients that do that job just as well, and you don't have to rely on another business to make them work. Do businesses even have the option of installing an AIM server locally?

  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:43AM (#14857266) Homepage Journal
    All the applications are signed and the key crosslinked into your app can be enabled and disabled by AOL.
    If they feel your not doing it right you wont get a valid key.

    Its just a way for outside developers to create custom apps for them without having to put the actual dev work in.

    All the benefits of open source except for the openness*.

    (*sure, you can open source your application, but the end user cannot compile his own version without requiring his own key)
  • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:47AM (#14857290) Homepage Journal
    We don't need no stinkin' SDKs.. why not officially document and open up the API instead? That way we can call it and do what we want on any platform without having to worry about SDKs.
  • by Bogtha (906264) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:10AM (#14857402)

    I'm specifically referring to this:

    This will be a boon to those doing internal company projects who would like to connect to IM to send messages which need to be received in real time for monitoring things like servers or some other process where a traditional monitoring tool might not work.

    The installed userbase is meaningless for things like this. Who cares if AIM has millions of users? You aren't telling Joe Random every time your server goes down, you're telling your server admins.

  • Re:libgaim (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GigsVT (208848) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:11AM (#14857406) Journal
    congratulations AOL! Now bugger off, you jerk-burgers!

    You know, they still run the aim servers... for free.

    And they stopped deliberately breaking other clients for the most part.
  • AIM bots (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cejones (574416) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:30AM (#14857532)
    Here come the AIM bots.
  • by JimTheCactus (896667) <jtc-listNO@SPAMnqig.net> on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:12AM (#14858416) Homepage Journal
    Don't forget to read the developer terms carefully. Under section 4 there's this nifty little bit there at the end (clause viii):
    (viii) incorporates any Publicly Available Software, in whole or in part, in a manner that may subject the Tools or the AOL Services, in whole or in part, to all or part of the license obligations of any Publicly Available Software. As used herein, the term "Publicly Available Software" means any software that contains, or is derived in any manner (in whole or in part) from, any software that is distributed as free software, open source software or similar licensing or distribution models; and that requires as a condition of use, modification or distribution that such software or other software incorporated into, derived from or distributed with such software: (a) be disclosed or distributed in source code form; (b) be licensed for the purpose of making derivative works; or (c) be redistributable at no charge.
    AIM DEVELOPERS LICENSE AGREEMENT [aim.com]

    For the masses at large, this means you cannot use ANY GPLed code, or any code that causes you to redistribute your code freely.

    This makes sense in the context of custom clients as you would be required to redistribute the client and the associated source code (which you cannot do because of closed source nature of the AOL libraries.) But as a consequence, it's worth paying attention to and will have some nasty effects on code reuse.

A language that doesn't have everything is actually easier to program in than some that do. -- Dennis M. Ritchie

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