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Damn you Apple… making me go back on my word

As I have mentioned on many an occasion before now, I use Proteus to handle my (many and varied) IM needs. Some have told me it sucks, some have told me it is broken, some have branded me a hypocrite for supporting something that “sounds like a ‘blatant rip-off’ of Trillian”… but it serves my purpose. It lets me connect to all of the networks with whom I have an account in a single, unified interface. Some of those networks I use constantly, others I barely touch; the fact remains that I am constantly connected to those networks without running five different clients, and with the NSToolbars collapsed (and various other preferences tweaked) Proteus sports a clean and simple layout… that’s all I ask for. MSN is a serious contender for ‘worst interface ever’, and the rest provide clunkiness in spades… something that undoubtedly comes from second–thought ports to the Mac.

Today, though, I gave iChat (in both the original and AV flavors) a proper test–drive and found it delightful. Neat, attractive (once demetallifized… and once you tweak a nib or two the minimize the window chrome) and fully–functional, now it sits right next to Proteus… whose job has been reduced to handling the other four IM networks. Those dastardly, bastardly Apple people… damn them.

A side note, on the definition of “blatant rip–off” and implicit badness: Cerulean Studios did not invent the idea of multi–protocol communications software, and Objective Development did not invent the idea of productivity enhancement software… the confusion a result of a lack of distinction between application ‘classes’ and application ‘IDs’ (to put it in terms of CSS selectors). In the AppRocket vs LaunchBar case, we’re talking about a company intentionally and explicitly reproducing another company’s application down to the most miniscule of details. Look at the screen shots from the developers’ web sites (or better yet, try the two of them side by side)… I’m not pulling this shit out of my ass. As Xian said… “If you’re going to copy something for a different platform don’t pretend you thought it up.” Good advice.

In the case of Trillian vs any other multi–protocol IM client out there, we’re not talking about the reproduction of a singular function (in a single–function application) or a carbon–copy interface design… we’re talking about software that performs a generalized task. Each tackles the task differently, each looks and functions completely differently. No two are alike… that’s what gives us choice and competition. I’m not advocating weird and dystopic ‘idea–monopolies’ —hey, companies competing with each other and improving upon foreign ideas is what keeps us moving forward— but unimaginative and uninspired piracy just isn’t funny. Innovate, for chrissakes. If I release a book, don’t tell me it’s ethically valid for you to re–title my work and release it as an eBook, come up with your own plot.