Oct 222012

I’m fil­ing this away in the ‘finally tracked down why’ bucket. In case any­one else spends time on Pidgin won­der­ing why some of their con­tacts have lots of “Status” lines, here’s the reason. In par­tic­u­lar, I’ve noticed that when I chat to Tim using Pidgin and Google Talk (which is based on Jabber/XMPP), he has approx­im­ately 10 “Status” lines when I mouse-over the name (the num­ber var­ies, but not by much). It turns out it’s a sim­ple explan­a­tion — Google Talk allows you to log in from mul­tiple cli­ents on mul­tiple devices (this is part of the XMPP pro­to­col), and Pidgin sup­ports that. 

Hence the mul­tiple Status lines, one for each device that’s logged in to the XMPP server. The whole thing seems to be clever about send­ing the mes­sages to the appro­pri­ate device, it all some­how just works. The other sys­tems I use to chat with people via Pidgin (AIM or Yahoo!) don’t sup­port log­ging in from mul­tiple com­puters (although it looks like the AIM pro­to­col itself does, but they don’t sup­port it with most cli­ents).

I guess this is gen­er­ally a fea­ture, but it does mean people need to be fairly care­ful about fig­ur­ing out which chat cli­ent they want to use when they have mul­tiple cli­ents on mul­tiple devices (and since ‘cli­ents’ includes GMail, one for each Google account, they can eas­ily add up). Still, Pidgin/XMPP seems good at fig­ur­ing out when someone really is ‘Avail­able’ rather than ‘Away’ and rout­ing the mes­sage to the right place so it’s prob­ably not as much of an issue as it could be.

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