The number of instant message programs has grown at an impressive rate, and even thought there are some protocols preferred by the masses, anyone has got the possibility to choose their account type according to their preferences. The problem is, what the user should do when he wants to communicate via instant messaging with users that use other types of accounts. As anyone can probably figure out, installing as many programs as different accounts you have is not an option.
At the moment, besides the instant messaging applications from your e-mail account providers that support only one protocol, there are some programs that include many of the popular types of accounts. Adium is not only one of them, it has much more to offer than you would expect.What it does:
It combines an impressive number of instant messaging protocols like:
- AOL Instant Messenger (Including ICQ and .Mac)
- Jabber (Including Google Talk)
- MSN Messenger
- Yahoo! Messenger (Including Yahoo! Japan)
- Bonjour (Compatible with iChat)
- Novell Groupwise
- Lotus Sametime
Adium also gives you the possibility to connect with multiple types of accounts at the same time and combines all your friend groups into one big list; meaning you don't have to worry which is on Yahoo and which is on MSN, for example.Working with it:
It is extremely easy to use. Even the popular Yahoo or MSN messenger seem to be a bit complicated when compared to Adium, and they support only one type of account.
After the instant install sequence, all you have to do is to log in. Just add your account and its type and you are ready to go.
Adium's menu is as structured as can be, and commonly used features are grouped so that you would find them at a single click. That does not mean that someone should be alarmed about the more customizable features... they are at two, max three clicks away.
The really nice thing about it is that its message window is based on tabs. This is certainly a welcomed feature, as it is extremely annoying having message windows all over your desktop or your dock. It works like a charm. Nothing aggravated me, nothing about it made me even think about installing another one.
It supports multiple emoticon packs which gives your conversations a little more "color" and has got a history feature that will show you a number of lines from the last conversation with the respective person in the new conversation tab. The number of those lines can be set by the user from the preferences/advance panel.
In the preferences panel some might find some nice features that can make Adium your only choice when it comes to instant messaging.
The one that got my attention is the possibility to fully customize the events. If you go to preferences/events,
you will see the possibility to set up every single event in its smallest detail audio and video alike. One can choose from 4 custom sets, or set every particular event as one pleases. Every event can be accompanied by an audio notification set up by the user. For example, if you expect an important contact and you want to be warned when it logs in, you can write in the "Text to speak" box: "Hey dude! user x is online" and Adium will say exactly what you write there. The notification can contain its user name (just insert in the text: %n), user alias (%a) or the time (%t). You can select from more than 20 types of voices with the pitch and rate you choose.
If this is too much of a customization for you, you can select besides the "speak specific text" option: speak event, bounce the dock icon, display an alert, display a growl notification, display name in the dock icon, send an predefined message to someone in particular, play a sound or run Applescript.All about the design:
Adium is perfectly in style with Mac OS X and it is a real "charmer". Even with the standard appearance Adium is easy to live with and nice to look at, but, if you want, you can customize its appearance even more. You can select to modify its general appearance (icons and emoticons) or/and its contact list theme, style, layout, opacity and size.
If you get to the preferences panel you'll see the possibility to choose from the already predefined packs of service icons, status icons, emoticons, dock icons, color themes, list layouts or window styles and some bring you even more freedom when it comes to personalized settings.
Choose the "Customize" option from color theme for example. There you can personalize the colors of the window, color everything by status, events and groups; the list layout further customization feature brings you the possibility to choose the fonts used for contacts or groups, the spacing between the contacts, and represents the way you want the contact and group bubbles.
You can also configure the message window exactly how you want it to look like.
The message styles and their variants got my attention as they are totally different and every message style has its own color variants. In the messages window, you can choose its own background color independent from the styles and variants, or choose an image from your storage device. Although until here this software has got more features than many other instant messaging clients, the good part is just beginning."Xtras":
Not only is it free, but an "open source" also. This means that any experienced user can modify Adium if and how he chooses to. Its source can be found on the official website along with the source modifying and compiling information needed.
This results in an outstanding quantity of "Xtras" added by users, and it's certainly great as you can get for free, hundreds of personalized items which include: emoticons, message styles, status icons, sound sets, applescripts and many others.
This being the case, its appearance is easy and fully customizable with the help of its website and the development team. Opinion
Usually, an application that has got these many configuration possibilities would not get my attention. Especially when most of these settings are not necesary.
The thing that makes Adium diferent is that it has got some defaults that do not require you to customize this much if don;t want to. This is what a good software should do. It should offer a great environment from the beginning and the possibility of further, deeper configurations if someone chooses to make them. Adium offers that and it is the thing I love the most about it, besides, obviously, doing its job properly. The Good
Very easy to use and easy to configure exactly the way a user might choose. The software's website offers great support for those who might want to tweak the program directly from its source. Also, the uploading or installing of new "custom made" Xtras is simple and also fully supported by Adium's development team.The Bad
Adium depends on libgaim for its protocol-level functionality. This means that audio/video capabilities won't be supported until libgaim does. This is obviously a shortcoming of this program but the intention to offer audio/video capabilities does exist. These capabilities can be expected in the close future as the Gaim team is working on implementing such features.The Truth
Although there is a variety of such applications, Adium is a great multi-protocol instant messaging software and it distances itself from all of the other trough its complexity combined with user friendly and easy-to-use features.Here are some printscreens. Click to enlarge: