Thursday, March 13, 2008

iPhone SDK and TinyBuddy IM stats

Two quick things:

1) Apple released the iPhone SDK last week, and as part of the announcement, AOL demonstrated an AIM client that was built with the SDK. Hopefully AOL will continue the AIM client development so that in the June timeframe there will be a "real" AIM client for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

If you want to see the AIM client demo part of the announcement, you can view the video from Go to this link:

Then click on "View Presentation". Warning: this link may not be valid over time. The video you want to watch should be titled "Apple March 6 Event". The AIM part is around the 52 minute, 51 second mark.

Rizwan Sattar from AOL does the AIM demo -- we work in the same office! Rizwan did a great job with the demo.

2) With the Open AIM launch last week (, I now get stats for how much my API key is used. This in turn gives a rough idea of how much TinyBuddy IM is used. For a 7 day period (last Wednesday to this Wednesday), the stats are:

Peak Simultaneous Users: 183 (how many people used it at one time)
Sessions: 116,943
IMs Sent: 513,384
IMs Received: 566,301

So every minute (averaged), that equates to:
11 sessions per minute
50 IMs sent
56 IMs received

That is certainly much better than I thought it would be. It is nothing like the usage of a full AIM client, but I'm happy to see that much usage out of a fringe product. Thanks for using it!

Although, I hope in the June/summer timeframe there will be a "real" AIM client that works natively with the iPhone and iPod Touch so we do not have to suffer with the limitations of the pure web-based approach that TinyBuddy IM uses.

Monday, February 25, 2008

TinyBuddy IM v3.50 released

Version 3.50 is now available. Use your iPhone or iPod Touch and go to:

It is usable in other browsers besides Mobile Safari, but it looks best in Safari-based browsers.

If you do not see "v3.50 release" below the Start button on that page, then you should try refreshing the page or clearing Safari's cache and try again.

v3.50 has the following changes:

* Avoid multiple sign ins! I was being too aggressive with my sign-out code. I fixed it, and now the AIM sign-in server will give you an option to save your sign-in credentials. The checkbox will show up after the second time you try to log in, and if you still have authentication cookies. You still may be prompted once in a while for a password, but it should be a much easier experience to get back online if you get signed out. Just click the Start button again.

* You can type status messages. Once your buddy list shows up, touch the green sphere under your name at the top of the app. A dialog will come up that lets you type in a status message and/or change your presence state to Available, Away or Invisible. Your status messages show up with your name in your buddies' buddy lists. You can also play with status messages on the AIM Buddy Info site and AIM Dashboard.

* Support for showing Recent Buddies. By default, TinyBuddy IM does not show buddies in your Recent Buddies group since most of the time they are not buddies  you explicitly added, and it helps performance if they are not shown. However, now there is a hyperlink you can click on TinyBuddyIM's start page that will change the app's URL so that it will show buddies in your Recent Buddies list. I would prefer a more elegant preference you could toggle, but I was having style issues getting that to work, so this is an intermediate option.

* Initial support for receiving offline IMs. If a buddy sends you an IM when you are offline, then you might see it now in the app. I was having trouble testing this completely though, so there may be layout issues with it, or it may not work completely.

* A new webclip icon! Thanks go to Justin Kirk for creating a much better icon than what I had before. To get the new icon, remove the previous icon from your home screen, go to the web app, then add it back. It now looks like this:

Also remember you can use .mac accounts -- when you sign in, be sure to add to your account name.

Special thanks go to David McCormick for actually getting the code up where you can use it.

Things to remember about TinyBuddy IM

TinyBuddy IM is a web application that works in Apple's iPhone/iPod Touch's Mobile Safari web browser. The iPhone/iPod Touch do not treat web sites/web applications in Mobile Safari the same as other native applications on those devices.

In particular, the device will stop TinyBuddy IM from running if you switch to another web browser window/page or if you switch to another native application on the device. When that happens, the AIM servers will wait 30 seconds, then sign you off. If you return to TinyBuddy IM after those 30 seconds, you will have to reconnect, and if anyone sent you IMs within those 30 seconds, they will be lost.

Given those limitations, TinyBuddy IM is best used for doing quick IMs with a buddy to avoid SMS charges, but it will not work very well as something you run for a very long time on the device.

Also be aware that you may be charged for data transfers unless you have an "unlimited" data plan with your phone service. I believe the unlimited data plan is standard for AT&T in the US, but you may incur costs if you go outside of the US. To be sure, check your phone plan.

Friday, January 18, 2008

WebClip Icon for TinyBuddy IM

With Apple's 1.1.3 iPhone update and the iPod Touch software upgrade, it is now possible to put an icon on your device's home screen that maps to an URL in the Safari browser (called a WebClip).

Normally, the device will generate an icon based on the look of the web page, but there is an option to specify a specific graphic. An icon update was just pushed to TinyBuddy IM, so now you should see this icon on your home screen (if you click on the + then "Add to Home Screen" in Safari):

It is not the best icon, but it is what I could do given my very poor graphics skills. And it should be better than a screen capture of the web page.
(Edit Feb 25, 2008: The icon above is actually a new one done by Justin Kirk, and is light years better than my goofy original icon)

If you previously added TinyBuddy IM as a WebClip on your home screen, you might try removing it, reloading TinyBuddy IM in Safari, and adding it to the home screen again.

Friday, November 16, 2007

TinyBuddy IM v3.20 released

Version 3.20 is now available. Use your iPhone or iPod Touch and go to:

It is usable in other browsers besides Mobile Safari, but it looks best in Safari-based browsers.

If you do not see "v3.20 release" below the Start button on that page, then you should try refreshing the page or clearing Safari's cache and try again.

v3.20 has the following changes:

* Better performance for large buddy lists.
* One less prompt on sign-in and first IM sent.
* Better status message display (previously it did not show status messages, just away messages).
* Better information if you are signed off because Mobile Safari suspended the page for too long (happens if you switch to another application or web page).
* Uses Dojo 1.0 for the JavaScript toolkit.

There were some changes to improve the performance of large buddy lists, but I can probably do more changes. Leave a comment if you still find it hard to use the web app with large buddy lists.

Also remember you can use .mac accounts -- when you sign in, be sure to add to your account name.

I was planning to allow SSL as part of this release, but I had trouble getting it set up, and I am not sure it is a good idea, since you will only get encrypted communication to the AIM server. There is no guarantee that the path from the AIM server to your buddy is secure. So I think it is best not to give the illusion that it is a "secure IM" option. I'll be putting that feature on hold indefinitely now.

Something I do want for the next version: allowing custom status messages (not just custom away messages). Ideally, I want to work out a way for you to save those custom status messages for re-use/less typing the next time. It still needs more investigation though.

Friday, October 12, 2007

TinyBuddy IM v3.01 released, listed in Apple Web Apps

Just a small update today. v3.01 had some layout fixes resulting from the iPhone 1.1.1 update, and I switched to using the final Dojo 0.9.0 release. Try it out at:

The source code bundle has also been updated.

Also, TinyBuddy IM is listed in Apple's web app directory.

I still want to do more updates for the app, but my day job and Dojo contributions have been my major focus of late. I am still looking at providing an SSL option, and an option to hide the buddies from the "Recent Buddies" group.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Now open source

TinyBuddy IM code is now available as open source:

Get it at:

Also, the web app now runs at:

I've set up to forward to the new location, so you can continue to use to access the web app. I'm still planning other updates to the code, but I need to do some other things at my day job first.

(btw: using AOL Journals mobile blogging for this post. Neato!)

Sent from my iPhone

(Update: Fixed the entry's formatting and hyperlinked the URLs. Have to figure out how to do that in email next time).

Monday, July 23, 2007

TinyBuddy IM v3 released

This version of TinyBuddy IM converts the code to iUI for look and feel, and to Dojo 0.9.0beta for the JS part. As part of the conversion, the following features
have not been implemented yet, but I am planning to get to them in a coming release:

* No Custom Away messages
* Cannot show buddies by group (only alphabetic listing).
* Typing events received from buddies is not implemented.

If you would prefer to use those features, you can keep using v2 of the UI at:

However, v3 is really nice since:
* You can use the normal one finger physics-based scrolling for the buddy list and IMs.
* It looks way nicer with iUI.

The size results for the HTML/JS/CSS: 39KB gzipped (2.6/33.6/2.5).

The images I use probably come in around 10KB in total, but not all are loaded up front.

For the next release, I'm looking at the following:

* Still pursuing open sourcing the code.
* Implement custom away message.
* Implement buddy typing events.
* Provide SSL option for all IM/buddy list calls.
* Allow sorting buddies by group and/or not showing the buddies in the Recent Buddies group.