Posted December 14th, 2002 @ 01:51pm by Erik J. Barzeski
Adium 2.0a1 (pre-alpha, really) should be released as source code today. For those that don't know, Adium is a brilliant little AIM clone written in Cocoa by one "Adam Iser" (figure out why it's called Adium yet?). The biggest innovation is arguably the "tabbed windows" that prevent your screen from becoming littered with the five conversations you're having.
Adam, just a college student (I say "just" not as a put-down of any kind... simply to illustrate age and relative worldly and programming inexperience - I was tempted to put it in quotes) is another example of the power of Cocoa. In no time, Adium 1.0 skyrocketed to the current status: 1.6.2c. It may not follow all of the Cocoa or Aqua or Apple HIGs (Human Interface Guidelines), but where it bucks the trend it does so in favor of the user's experience. It may take awhile to get Adium set up as you like, as nearly everything is available via a preference or setting, but once you do, it's a joy to use.
Today, Adium 2.0 pre-alpha-whatever will be released. Adam has essentially rewritten Adium to be completely plug-in-based. The advantages of going this route are several-fold. It will be easy for me, for example, to release my "AIM Bot" based on Eliza code I've got laying around from a college AI class. It'll make it easy for people to rip the multi-protocol (IRC, ICQ, Yahoo, etc.) code from Fire or Proteus and add it to Adium. All told, this is a marvelous way to go; I can't blame Adam for not having the foresight to go this way from the get-go. But not being stubborn is a virtue, and Adium 2.0's plug-in architecture should illustrate that nicely.
2002's WWDC marked the first year that Apple had a specific Apple Design Award category for student work, and that's due to Cocoa as well. Both recognized students - and every other ADA winner last year - was a Cocoa app. Never before has the Mac shareware/freeware market been as active, and it's due to the "youngun's" in large part. I'd venture a guess that 50% of the Mac OS X software you find on VersionTracker is written entirely by someone under the age of 25. As you know, Freshly Squeezed Software is run by three people under that age.
And lest you think Adium's contribution to Cocoa stops there, I assure you it does not. After all, the plug-in architecture provides an environment for someone interested in learning Cocoa to contribute and have a "project" to work on without having to come up with a full-featured app idea. There are only so many calculator projects you can do before you, as a newbie coder, get bored. Adium's plug-in architecture will allow interested coders to work within a framework in which a single, very simple idea (text to speech, perhaps, or customized alert sounds, or whatever) can be coded within a day, and built upon, and refined.
To that end, I've talked with "ikrieg" (of the Adium message boards), and Cocoa Dev Central is going to run a series of "Adium Plug-In Adventures" columns. This fellow (with some help from me and various other plug-in authors) will step through the creation of some simple (and eventually some more complex) plug-ins, all in an attempt to get more users interested in "taking up the battle ax" themselves.
The Mac has always been about creativity. With Cocoa, and as witnessed by Adium and several other fine apps written by students and part-time coders, the realm of the creative now extends beyond music and graphic arts. Welcome, coders. Your creativity is welcome, and appreciated!