By now, those of you currently involved in our alpha program have probably had the opportunity to play around with our web-based IM offering over at http://www.trillianastra.com. The point of this product is to provide useful IM access to Trillian users that aren’t at their main PC without the bulk of carrying around a USB key or, even worse, re-downloading Trillian wherever they go. There are, however, some obvious flaws in web-based applications:
- The web application is stuck inside the browser. We love our web browser, but when you stuff an application inside of it you tend to lose more functionality than you think. Most people make this sacrifice because the convenience of the web app outweighs the functionality loss – your system tray and task bar notifications, the ability to minimize an application without minimizing 15 others, the ability to use aesthetically pleasing skins and skinned windows without the bulk of a browser frame, etc.
- Web products do not necessarily integrate well with their host operating system. Trillian supports a plugin archtecture that lets you do all sorts of whacky things: track your music, invoke text-to-speech frontends, display your CPU utilization and speed, and more. We can also log your conversations directly to the hard drive, expose an XML-based skinning language that supports per-pixel transparency, layered windows, borderless windows, and in general take full advantage of OS-specific rendering features, natively. Although many of these graphical goodies are available on the web, they are typically constrained by the browser window. This is no fun.
We are therefore proud to present our first crack at solving some of these problems, with what we’re currently referring to as our “OS Layer” technology. Take a look below and let us know what you think – we’d love to hear your feedback, comments and suggestions! This is still internal technology (not a part of our alpha program) but we want to be sure we’re heading down the right road before giving it too many cycles.
Some technical information:
- This is not powered by Adobe Apollo technology. While we have heard more and more about Apollo in recent weeks, it has not been made available to us and we have never tried it. We work long and devoted hours in a small office building in Brookfield, CT; not being piped into the Silicon Valley hype machine does have its disadvantages, we suppose, but it only makes us work harder! This is all technology developed here at Cerulean Studios.
- This technology, like Trillian Astra Web before it, requires Flash 9.
- This is the real deal – with it, we can access the system tray, task bar, the local filesystem, dock the contact list, etc. The goal of this project is to emulate 99% of common Trillian functionality in something incredibly lightweight and easy to grab on-the-go. While we won’t likely be doing anything incredibly advanced here (that’s what Trillian “regular” is for), we will strive to do enough to make it worth your while.
- This is currently internal technology and not available yet to anyone. It will be made available to our team of testers as soon as its ready, but at this point your feedback and suggestions would be great!
Lastly, build 36 is now available for testers.