I’m a long-term user of Pidgin, have been using it for years and all the time if I’m honest, unhappily. I came over to Pidgin from Trillian. It was at a time when I was used to affecting change in software and I didn’t feel like I had that any more with Trillian. The popularity was at its highest point and as such voices like mine were lost in the crowd. It also helped that I was on a then ageing machine that didn’t take too kindly to heavily themed things like Trillian, Pidgin’s themeless feel was refreshing and after my subscription with Trillian had run out there was nothing to stop a move over to Pidgin.
My experience with Pidgin however was something that I had gripes with, despite being open-source I had issues getting my voice across, I didn’t know where to go or how to go about it. However I was or at least tried to be very vocal about those gripes too. There were just a few usability issues were perceivably minor but for me as a day-in/day-out user, they were annoyances. As time went on, I moved over to Windows 7 and things about the UI were really bugging me. Not from a UX PoV but rather from a aesthetics point of view. As time went on I got more and more frustrated. It actually got to the point whereby I began making mockups of where the UI should be. Mozilla were moving forward with what both I and they felt should be considered the default feel for Windows programs (Firefox 4). I was overjoyed and felt that everything should move in this direction. My mockups were taking a definitive shape to the point that I had began showing people. However as time moved on, the look and feel of Pidgin failed to. Of course there wasn’t an onus on Windows with Pidgin so why should it?
As my frustrations begun boiling to a point, I stumbled across Instantbird, still heavily in its infancy, I felt that it was the project I wanted to be a part of. And the fact it was built on the Mozilla Platform was even more of a bonus, all of my efforts to improve the UI moved over to Instantbird, I began filing bugs left and right as to what I felt made the best Instant Messenger. Trillian 5 looked awesome and subscribed heavily to my idea of what an IM should be. I knew how to make Instantbird its competitor, it’s king, but that’d take time and trust and is ultimately another story for posting later.
The death of my relationship with Pidgin was something that was dragged out, ultimately it was a question of whether or not I wanted to wait for Instantbird to mature enough to be of use on an everyday basis. And ultimately in that regards, a couple days before Instantbird 1.0 was released. I ended my relationship with Pidgin. The last of the dirt topping its casket space as I type this. I was now an Android owner and I was really in love with syncing across Firefox platforms (mobile and desktop). Most of my conversations were either via WhatsApp or BlackBerry Messenger. None of the desktop IMs were offering integration with those, but Trillian had something no one else had, syncing all my other conversations across my machines. Being that I still keep all my old IMs on and do chat on them in an increasingly infrequent manner, I wanted something to free me from my bonds on the desktop while not alienating those few good people I still chat to. Trillian offered that and it was something that I could only resist for long. In Pidgin’s failure to move with the times explicitly syncing and design it had lost a long-term user. I do hold out hope for the future however.