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3 Posts authored by: ddman

Spark Goodies

Posted by ddman Mar 19, 2007

We are getting closer and closer to the final release of Spark 2.5, and I thought I would give a little insight on some of the stuff that's new, stuff that's coming, and stuff that's hidden. It doesn't do anyone any good when we have features within the client that no one knows about.  So why don't we begin...


The New Stuff

  1. Jingle VOIP Calls: This is the one big feature that we have been working on for quite some time, and it's really starting to kick some serious booty. Besides being one of the only, if not the only client using Jingle right now, we are coming up with all sorts of ideas. From conferences to just better interaction with others, it's just a blast to finally get to talk with some of the people who we have been chatting with daily.  Give it a try, you can make a call from either the roster or inside any of the chat rooms. Basically anyone using Spark 2.5.0 Beta 4 should be able to talk with one another.

  2. Recent Conversations: Try ctrl+e inside of the Contact List, this allows you to see the last 10 users you have chatted with. I use it all the time.

  3. My Favorites: Try ctrl+t inside of the Contact List, you can see the most "Popular" people related to you. Now granted, it may be a person that you just have to put up with constantly, but I like to be optimistic about it.

  4. Copy To and Move To: I actually added this because I'm still having troubles scrolling down the contact list using drag and drop mechansims. This feature allows you to do mass move or copies of contacts into other contact groups.

The Hidden Stuff

  1. Task List: Using ctrl+F5, you can add tasks that are persisted directly onto your server, so they are mobile. This feature, as is the next one, have been in the product forever, but yet, no one seems to know about them.

  2. Notes: Using  ctrl+F6, allows a simple notepad that is persisted directory onto your server. I use it for daily reminders, etc.

Still Brewing (But should get in the release)

  1. I have a shiny new Mac on my desk in order to get the OSX build up to snuff.  So, two things that I'm going to be jamming on. The first one being better growl notification. The second one being better dock notifications via text and animated icons.

  2. Jingle  Discovery - we need to see who can actually talk.

I hope you find this helpful. Always fun to discover new things




My Spark Update

Posted by ddman Feb 15, 2007

After coding night and day for a while,  I sometimes forget that people need some help getting setup with some of our new features.  It's always a balancing act between development, forums and writing up documentation for all this good stuff we've been coding up. Trust me, I have Matt and Greg always coming to me asking when I'm going to do my next blog post, and the answer is always, "It's coming soon." Code, code, code, code, code, code, code.  Anyhow, since I've just finished up the latest round of Spark 2.5.0 Beta releases , I thought it would be good idea to write up a Spark Phone How-To Guide.


Aside from that, some new things in the latest beta.....

  1. MAC Fixes:  This has always been an issue with our Spark releases, largely for two reasons. The first one being that I do all my      development on Windows (I use the command prompt constantly though. It's a kind of throw back to my old DOS days).  The second one is that to really get that OSX experience, I needed an OSX guru to      hammer on Spark for hours on end. Fortunately, one of those two problems has been taking care of in the form of David Smith. The guy is a highly skilled developer already, and really is a pleasure to have here at Jive. And.... he really knows his OSX stuff.

  2. Vcard Caching: For a really sweet client, we feel it's important to      use the right information about each of your contacts, and the vCard is perfect for it. However, besides doing caching in memory during runtime, we would always be burdened with doing network calls on each startup anytime we wanted to know anything about the user.       Fortunately, we came upon a great way to do local caching of the vCard, and hopefully you will all notice a 'slight' performance improvement.

  3. Drag and Drop Support For Conference Invitations: So, I don't know how many      of you have had contact with my boss Matt, but one of the things you will notice about him is that he really doesn't stray from what he wants.  So because of his most amazing perseverance, I have finally found a little bit of time to add drag and drop of contact items into Conference rooms to invite them in. Give it a shot, it's a nice, smooth experience.


Well, Matt just IM'ed me to fix something, enjoy!

I Just Like The Way It Feels

Posted by ddman Dec 4, 2006


One thing I've taken to heart during my years developing software is that one of the most important things you can do while developing a product is to think about how the end user ???feels??? when using it.  It's funny to think about, especially as an engineer, since most development is focused on implementing the low-level bits rather than UI or end-user experience. How are they going to feel when they initially open the app? How are they going to feel when using the app day-in and day-out, like we do with our IM clients? The real challenge for me was to finally accept the fact that I can't figure this all out on my own. Getting input from the community, both good and bad, is invaluable.Since Spark launched, there have literally been thousands of posts with feature requests. Some are as simple as adding extra emoticon packs, while others are a little more complicated (e.g. the ability to tie into any CRM application). When I initially saw some of these posts, I took the hard-nosed stance that adding these features was ridiculous (who needs a different way to smile?). But as I continued development on Spark and the feedback and feature requests kept rolling in, I realized people were taking time out of their days to give feedback because they actually cared about the product. Now when I say ???cared???, I mean that some emotion was evoked in them (good and bad), that motivated them to take the time to write up a request and send it off. That just blew my mind. Before Jive, I worked at Oracle and never had a chance to get this close to users.So you're probably now asking yourself, how am I going to benefit from Derek's realization? Well.. . one of the more obvious things to do is just make Spark feel better/cooler, or as Sam (who heads up marketing at Jive) might put it -- make Spark more lickable. There are two areas where we're pushing Spark in this respect. The first is the overall speed of the client itself. In the past we've been limited by the speed of the Java engine. With the Spark 3.0 release and the new and improved Java 6, known as Mustang (responsiveness of the application.



The second improvement area is in the UI. I really wanted to go down the road of having Spark feel light and sexy.  For the ???light??? part, I updated the parent frame that Spark runs in to be thinner and sleeker.  Take a look at the two screen shots below, the first one is the current released version of Spark and the one below it is just Spark with a thinner frame (although we're still playing with the final look).  Oh la la.






[| /2006/12/old_spark.png|Old Spark] [| /2006/12/new_spark.png|New Spark]



For the sexy part, I've updated Spark to fully support themes within the chat window. By following  a standard HTML template, organizations can now change the UI of their chats or select from a set of defined themes. The same thing applies to the new Adium for paving the way for us. We're actively working with them to define a cross-platform theme engine, but more on that in another blog post. An example of the new features are below.



[| /2006/12/chat_window.png|Chat Window] [| /2006/12/preferences.png|Preferences]









As a side note, I would like to say that this is my first blog entry ever.  I look forward to talking smack as time goes on.









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