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Sean Egan on Gaim's Future
By Eugenia Loli on 2005-11-12 05:21:50
Yesterday we reported on the issue that surfaced between the project leaders of Gaim and Gaim-vv and we linked to the blog of the Gaim-vv developer. We now host a Q&A with the other side, Gaim's project leader and Google employee Sean Egan, who clears up a few things for us.

1. Peter Lawler claims that some of gaim-vv's patches were removed from the CVS and instead an audio-only solution compatible with GoogleTalk was inserted. Is this true?

Sean Egan: Well, that's not quite what he said. What he said---which is true---is that I created a small bit of voice-specific code and added it to Gaim. The gaim-vv approach had been to abstract voice chats, webcams, video conferencing all as the same thing, where I chose to handle them separately. I'm not sure yet which approach is better, which is why I committed the code as early as I could so that it could be openly reviewed and discussed.

2. If true, what about video and other, non-GoogleTalk, IM voice support? Will the rest of gaim-vv code left in your CVS will be enough or can be modified to support these A/V protocols?

Sean Egan: Nothing I did precludes supporting other protocols' voice or video, and indeed I'd like to see as many protocols supported as possible. The issue is just the approach I took to reach this goal. The most significant change is that I decided to use Linphone's mediastreamer library in lieu of GStreamer, which gaim-vv was using. Tim and Pete had code to do Yahoo! webcam with GStreamer, which may be a pain to port to use mediastreamer, but once GStreamer matures enough to be the better alternative, we'll switch back to that. GStreamer and Mediastreamer share very similar architectures, so it shouldn't take too much effort to switch between the two.

3. How deep is Google's participation in the Gaim project? Do they influense new features or the architecture?

Sean Egan: I don't typically comment about my work with Google, but I assure you that Google has no influence in Gaim development. My work on Gaim now is no different that it was before I started here. You can quote an offiical statement from a Google spokesperson here.

4. Which feature of the upcoming Gaim 2.0 makes you particular happy or proud?

Sean Egan: I'm a huge fan of the UI improvements that have been made, both obvious and subtle. The annoying "Disconnected" "Login," and "Connecting" windows that everyone hated are removed. New messages now "smooth scroll" up from the bottom of the window. The big useless toolbars on the bottom of the buddy list and conversation windows have been killed. Message background colors affect the entire width of the window, rather than just where there's text. The preferences dialog is vastly simplified. There are a whole bunch of other tiny changes that I think make a huge impact. I'm really excited about it.

I'm also a fan of the embedded mono and perl interpreters which should make cross-platform plugin distribution much easier, our three new protocols (Bonjour (nee Rendezvous), SIP/SIMPLE, and Sametime), and the hugely improved AIM and ICQ file transfer support.

5. Do you have plans to also support the SIP and h323 protocols and have Gaim work as a front-end to, let's say, the Gizmo network?

Sean Egan: I, personally, have no plans to do this. Gaim 2.0.0 adds a SIP/SIMPLE that someone may be interested in adding voice signalling to. Personally, I'm more interested in supporting the voice and video protocols of the popular IM services than turning Gaim into a general-purpose VoIP client.

6. Gaim is a GTK+ application, but not necesserily a Gnome one. What is your opinion of the Gnome project, its architecture and also the way it operates?

Sean Egan: I'm a GNOME user and a member of the GNOME Foundation. I really like GNOME, and I think Gaim does a pretty good job integrating with the GNOME desktop. We try to obey the GNOME HIG, we respect GNOME's web browser settings, and in CVS I'm currently experimenting with respecting its proxy settings.

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