Groups in the Facebook plugin

For those people who upgraded to v1.60 of the pidgin-facebookchat plugin, you’ll probably notice that the Facebook groups have made their way into your Pidgin buddylist.

Oddly enough, this has spawned a looong thread of people who aren’t so happy with the new change. I thought it would be best to blog about why and what happened to get us to this stage and what we’re doing about it.

What happened is that we got reports of a major crash appearing whenever 32-bit (and Windows) users opened a conversation window or received a chat from someone. This was because our kludgy way of dealing with a limitation of timestamps from json-glib ended up overflowing. At the same time, we had been sitting on fixes for profile pictures/buddy icons, as well as status messages needing a new way to update.

The other issue was that I’ve been looking after my unwell fiancĂ©e all week, after several doctors trips, after-hours doctors trips and even a visit to the swine flu processing centre in Christchurch. So when I started getting email notifications of bug reports about the crashes, it was the final straw for me, and I hastily pushed out a new version…. completely forgetting that we had the new group/friend list’s code in there.

That said, we hadn’t had much feedback about the new groups stuff until now so we weren’t to know that everyone would hate it as much as they do.

So where to from here? Well, we want to come up with a solution that leaves everyone happy, while still allowing for using the new groups/friends list code. My idea is to have a toggle for the setting. Casey Ho, the other developer, says that I’m not allowed to offer that solution to people, as we’ll end up with an unstable situation. Instead, he’s adding support for hiding/showing different groups as well as the online/offline per-group setting that Facebook has. This should end up with the same result, just a different way of getting there.

So blame lies with me, I’m afraid, for all the groups mess. My apologies, but rest assured, we are working on ways to ‘fix the problem’ for you all 🙂

(Also, if you feel like making a donation to help pay for my fiancĂ©e’s medication so that we don’t have to keep going back to the doctors so that messes like this don’t happen in the future, I’m always grateful)