Saturday, April 21, 2007

Instant Messaging Tools

It has been ages since my last blog, but today I break the silence to tell you about two IM (Instant Message) services I find thrilling.

MEEBO - an all-in-one IM web client
The first service Meebo is a tool I think many users will find useful. Meebo is an online IM webbased client that has three features I believe to be exteremely useful.
  1. A web based service - this means that you do not have to install any IM software on your computer (MAC, PC, or LINUX) to IM your friends. So say you visit the Abington Library or the Underground Cafe and want to IM your friends. Just log into Meebo and IM your friends away.
  2. Supports 6 IM clients (protocols) - so you can talk with your friends who use AIM, MSN, Yahoo, GTalk, Jabber, or ICQ all at the same time. I have been looking for an all-in-one client for years that was stable. I have tried Trilliam, Gaim, Adium, and even Miranda. All have left me wishing for more either due to the interface or because they continually crash. I am hopeful that this client will change all of that.
  3. A client for your website - Meebo Me! is a service they offer so that you can provide an IM client on your own website. Just look to the right of this column and you will see the IM client for ALTT. If I am logged into Meebo I'll recieve IMs from you and everyone else who IMs me.
OpenFire - your own IM server Openfire RTC Server
OpenFire on the other hand will probably be more of a geeks tool, but I can imagine some creative visionaries seeing opportunity when it knocks. What we have here is an open source server application that will enable you to manage your own IM server from your home or your online server. OpenFire comes in two flavors free and Enterprise and will run on normal or server versions of Windows, Linux, or MAC. I recommend beginning with the free version since the Enterprise is only a plugin upgrade of the free version and the additional features come at a cost. For this review I an using the free version.

According to their site "Openfire is incredibly easy to setup and administer, but offers rock-solid security and performance." I can vouch for the ease of the setup on the Windows platform. All that was involved was running the installer. Once that was run I visited the administration console and it walked me through an extremely easy setup. The only manual part of the setup was my configuration of my Firewalls for OpenFire to communicate with external IM clients. Other wise I would only have been able to chat within my home network.

Free version features...
  • IM Gateway for talking with third party IM software (e.g. AIM, MSN, etc...)
  • Group or conference chats
  • Open registration for accounts or administrator control
  • LDAP connections
  • Database can be internal (apart of the app) or external (e.g. mysql)
  • Language translation with their own client, Spark
  • IM server to server communication for talking to other jabber (xmpp) IM servers
  • Supports SSL
  • Offline message retention
  • Option for client storage on the server so they can have roaming profiles
  • FTP ability
  • Media Proxy for when peer to peer connections fail
  • VoIP ability
Enterprise Version Features (view a full feature list here)...

  • Reporting: What manager wouldn't love graphs like the one pictured to the right?
  • Advanced VoIP: Integrate with your corporate phone system to place and receive SIP phone calls from inside Spark.
  • Browser-based IM Client: Use the AJAX-based SparkWeb client on any web browser.
  • Client Control: Stop the client madness -- take control of versions, features and more.
  • Archiving: If "compliance" is a word your organization uses, you need this feature.
  • Customer Chat: Add click-to-chat to your website to generate leads, close sales, route questions -- your sales and support people will love this feature.
  • Support. Professional support by the hard-working and friendly Jive Software team.
Both Meebo and OpenFire with Spark intrigue my curiosity and I hope to see both of these products and companies go far.

1 comment:

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