Sunday, May 04, 2008


Last month, Facebook rolled out yet another separate, non-standard, not-supported-anywhere-else, no-API chat network to deal with, making the site noisier than ever before (something I hardly thought was possible). Not wanting to be locked into their stupid walled garden, I was excited to hear about Digsby, the first program to include Facebook chat in its multi-chat protocol.

I tried out Digsby this weekend and I think I'll keep it (sorry, Pidgin). Digsby does all the cool things I require in a chat client that Pidgin also offered: Tabbed browsing, grouping contacts' accounts under one alias, inline status display, rollover buddy info display.

But it adds some interesting chat features, including extremely customizable layouts of both the buddy list and chat windows, allowing me to maximize screen space or icon size or whichever I want.

The main draw is its integration with the Facebook chat network. What's cool is how its integration with Facebook goes beyond just adding the chat: It harvests and displays your entire mini-feed accessible via rollover. Unobtrusive pop up windows notify of sign ons and sign offs like usual, but also IMs received. A window with a single-line text input box appears to quickly reply to IMs. Additionally, these windows can notify of Facebook events basically as they happen, and GMail messages too. It would do the same things for Twitter if I had an account.

Its drawbacks are few: It eats up a huge memory footprint, but the developers are aware of that issue. Also, I wish I could pick a different font color to distinguish the screenname from the status line below it. But since I didn't have any configuration options for that display at all before this week, that's hardly something to complain about.

So basically, in addition to being the most comprehensive multi-protocol chat client available, it's a real-time RSS feed reader for your friends' activities. GMail, GMail chat, AIM, and Facebook are all things I participate in daily anyway, so aggregating them into one place - without input needed from me to view updates - will save a great deal of time.

1 comment:

Bryan said...

I've never bothered to get a multi-network chat client and have just stuck with aim. I've noticed that as a result I just don't make many close friends who use other networks. There are several people that I hung out with quite a bit when I first came to law school that I don't keep in touch with anymore because they all use google chat, while people who I didn't connect with as well initially have become my closer friends simply because I can IM them.