Four more prpls

It suddenly occurred to me that I never posted about the new prpls that I’ve written since the Hangouts prpl. Today we shall fix that.
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Building for iOS5 with XCode 8

Part of my day job is creating a mobile app, of which one of the platforms we deploy to is iOS. We still have some users out there on iPad 1’s and the latest version of iOS that’s available for them is 5.1.1, which the latest version of XCode (version 8.1 at time of writing) doesn’t support.

Up to and including XCode 8.0 we’ve been able to build for iOS5 without trouble just by changing the “Development Target” setting to 5.1.1, however XCode 8.1 complains with an error “ld: library not found for -lcrt1.3.1.o”. Turns out that the iOS10 SDK doesn’t ship with this file any more, effectively dropping support for iPad1’s.

Fortunately the solution is simple, to take a copy of crt1.3.1.o from an older copy of XCode and put it into the /Applications/ folder, and just like that it’s possible to build for iOS5 again.

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A Hangouts Prpl

So Pidgin has fairly alrightish support for Hangouts through the XMPP server that Google provides. Unfortunately it’s missing a whole bunch of stuff – like group chats, self-sent messages et. al. – that make it just that little bit annoying to use.

So we had a Summer of Code 2015 student start work on a new protocol plugin (prpl) for Pidgin. Unfortunately due to a few roadblocks (mostly around new stuff in libpurple3) it didn’t get completed, so I’ve spent the last too-many weeks implementing the pblite/protobuf-json/jsprotobuf protocol (TODO find a link for this one) that Google uses, in C using the amazing protobuf-c library (in combination with the always awesome json-glib), to begin work on a new Hangouts prpl for Pidgin.

After the pblite-madness set in (seriously, that stuff will give you nightmares), Maiku came on board to help, and now we have a plugin that’s at a ‘good enough’ state right now that people can start using it.

We’ve taken inspiration from the Python-based Hangups library, and used the authentication code that Nakul wrote as part of GSoC2015 to come up with some moderately-sane code that works for both Pidgin 2.x and those foolish enough to be using Pidgin 3. There’s still a lot of pieces of the puzzle missing (you’ll see what I mean when you try it), but I think it’s good enough now that I’ve ditched my XMPP account in favour of it.

Please give it a go and tell us what you think. Just to be different, it’s over on BitBucket instead of GitHub.

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Summer Status S’chwupdate

So I was allowed to have a few days break from my day-job over the xmas break, and in between making desserts and back-breaking work in the garden, I managed to do a few Pidgin related things 🙂

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Retiring the MightyText plugin

So unfortunately I’ve had to discontinue work on the MightyText plugin for Pidgin.

Semi-recently, Google changed their authentication process to no longer allow an old type of auth. Unfortunately, the new system (OAuth) relies on the user having a web browser to login with, which isn’t something we can assume with libpurple (have you tried using a text-based web browser with Finch?!). Although I managed to find a way around this, to connect back from OAuth into the MightyText server requires a great deal of effort that ended up going nowhere.

So, regretfully I’ve had to stop.

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Using the new “Skype for Web”

So, Skype have recently announced a new, web-accessible version of Skype. Currently it’s invite-only, closed beta but I’ve managed to have a look around to see what it’s capable of and how it works. They’ve talked about making it work with WebRTC but at the moment it needs a separate download to get a browser plugin. Thus, a lot of the peer-to-peer features (such as file transfers or audio/video calls) don’t work. The major benefit of the new system is that it complements existing Desktop API or SkypeKit messaging by providing access to the server-stored “thread” chats. It’s also interesting to see that the ‘endpoint’ information for users, including what platform they’re using the Skype client on, is being provided. The downside is that it’s still beta, that it destroyed my buddy list and can’t handle talking to older, pre-microsoft Skype clients or in the older type of multi-user chats — I guess that’s why they’ve been so desperate to block older clients and get everyone moved onto a new version of the client.

Everything (other than login) is mostly JSON message sending/receiving with an HTTP-long polling connection for events. You’ll also need to do a bit of XML parsing for some of the messages, particularly for some metadata about chat rooms (adding/removing users). The ‘protocol’ also can’t make up it’s mind about whether it wants to identify a user or conversation by a URL or a id. Probably the worst part about it is how very sensitive it is to be 100% exact.

Ah well. I’ve been working on a new plugin for the last week, if anyone else is interested in testing it out. It’s got a few bugs, a few segfaults but the hard part is out of the way. Please grab it from svn on googlecode, the skypeweb subfolder of trunk, give it a compile and email me when you find all the fun bugs 🙂

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Facebook to shut down their XMPP service

So it’s been recently announced that Facebook are planning on turning off their XMPP gateway for Facebook Messaging. Their announcement says that it’ll be completely turned off for good as of April 2015, but that it’s just deprecated for now.

This is kind of a bittersweet announcement. The XMPP gateway was never really as feature-complete as any of the other messaging options provided by Facebook (by this, I mean the mobile Messenger client and the Firefox-powered Desktop Messenger), but it’s rise to prominence was the main reason I gave up on the old HTTP-based Facebook Plugin for Pidgin, which pretended to be a mobile browser.

So, now it looks like it might be time to dust the cobwebs off the old FB plugin and give it another crack. The other option is starting again, but reverse-engineering how the mobile Messenger clients work (might have something to do with MQTT?).

So that’s another big service dumping XMPP – we’ve already had MSN, AIM and Google deprecate their XMPP gateways. Who’s next? Does this make XMPP dead? What’s going to be the ‘next big thing’ in messengers? I guess that’s half the reason I like working with libpurple/Pidgin is that it’s an ever changing landscape with new things to learn from bigger companies.

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Win8 JS Privacy Policy Settings

As part of the Windows 8 App Store requirements, if your app has internet/network connectivity then you’re required to not only have a privacy policy in your app store description, but also as a Charms menu item. Unfortunately all the docs suck for how to add a simple charms menu item to open the privacy policy in a new window using JavaScript 🙂

After lots of digging, I’ve come up with a simple bit of JavaScript code, that should also let you add other Charms Settings menu settings without tearing your eyes out trying to read the docs.

var settingsPane = Windows.UI.ApplicationSettings.SettingsPane.getForCurrentView();
function commandsRequested(eventArgs) {
var applicationCommands = eventArgs.request.applicationCommands;
var privacyCommand = new Windows.UI.ApplicationSettings.SettingsCommand('privacy', 'Privacy Policy', function() {'');
settingsPane.addEventListener("commandsrequested", commandsRequested);


Setting up the MSN-XMPP plugin in Pidgin

Fun conversation in the #pidgin IRC channel this morning about the latest news about Microsoft shutting down the MSN servers later this year. As part of it, a few people wanted to start using MSN-over-XMPP using the msn-xmpp plugin for Pidgin. I have some uncommitted (and unfinished) code on my computer to convert the plugin from just an authorising mechanism to a proper protocol plugin but in its presently available state, it’s a fairly manual process. Just to make people’s lives easier I’m documenting here the setup process (might even put some info on the Google code page 🙂 )

First of all, grab the plugin, install it and enable it through Tools->Plugins

Then create a new XMPP account in your Pidgin Accounts page. You’ll want to use your MSN/Live/WLM email address with the ‘@’ characters replaced with ‘%40’ for the username, and as the domain

Save and enable the account and follow all the popup prompts and login pages in your browser. You’ll also want to open the debug log in Pidgin through Help->Debug Window. You’re watching for a message saying ‘see-other-host’ (you can filter by it if you want). You want to then take that value and cram it into the ‘Connect Server’ setting in the Advanced tab.


OpenDyslexic font in MIUI

I’ve been using the OpenDyslexic font from Abelardo Gonzalez ever since I read about it on Slashdot. I wanted to try it out on my Android phone that’s running MIUI rom and the easiest way to do that is by creating a theme.

You can download the theme from: here, then you just need to extract the zip file and copy the mtz inside onto your device’s /sdcard/MIUI/theme/ folder

You can then set a custom font in your current theme to be OpenDyslexic. Easy 🙂

I’ve been trying to upload the theme to the official themes repository, but I don’t read/write Chinese so I’m only guessing that they keep rejecting it because it doesn’t include a lockscreen. But it’s just a font! I don’t understand 🙂

Edit 2013-06-25: Updated to latest version of OpenDyslexic from