Lame Duck

June 7, 2007

I’ve come to a tipping point. I really, really want to use the awesome instant messenger app for Mac OS X called Adium. After the program graduated from it’s extensive “beta” phase months ago, I figured I would finally give it a try and see what all the hub-bub was about. After only a few hours I was hooked. Adium is a well-rounded collection of code that serves as an admirable replacement for the likes of AIM, Yahoo Messenger and my beloved iChat. Lately however, I’ve been thinking the duck would be better off served with a nice orange sauce instead of sitting in my Dock. What is the fowl source of my angst you ask? What could get my blood pressure high enough to ditch the customized GUI and invisible chat status heaven that is Adium? Two simple words – file transfers.

At the Iconfactory, I converse with developers, friends and co-workers around the globe each and every day. A huge part of what I do involves sending and receiving files to far off, exotic places like Stockholm, Vienna and Laguna Beach (it’s in the OC!). So when my instant messenger refuses to send a file for the 10th time, or when the Chief Typist says to me “Did you get that file?” and I have to tell him “No! Damn Adium!” I start to get upset.

The most depressing part is that I want to use Adium. I love the visual control the application brings to the desktop. Its creators have thoughfully given the user control over just about every aspect of how Adium looks, sounds or behaves. Adium’s use of CSS to create custom message window or buddy list appearances has earned it a cult following. I’ve even taken a stab at creating my own list themes build around Frenzic’s look and feel. So I take no joy in saying the software’s inability to quickly and reliably send and receive even the smallest of files is turning into a major deal breaker for me.

I can live without audio chat. I can live without video chat (a blessing, trust me). But I can’t live without file transfers. This bug has plagued Adium since day one, even though the devs have reportedly “fixed” or “improved” file transfers several times. I’m here to say that it has never worked reliably for me. Not once. Ever. So I’m on my knees asking the powers that be to take another hard look at the FT problem and see what can be done. I’d be happy to offer console logs, install a beta version or even name my first kid “Duckie” if it helped. Okay, I lied about that last one, but you get the idea.

If I can’t send files via Adium soon, I’m afraid I’m going to leash up the dogs, grab my decoys and go hunting with my old buddy iChat. Needless to say he’s been feeling pretty smug lately, what with me popping in to send PNGs and DMGs all the time. Hopefully a (near) future version of Adium will help me wipe that silly smiley off his face once and for all. Only time will tell.

UPDATE: So many people have requested my Adium theme that I’ve gone and saved it out here for you to download. I’ve not checked this over to make sure its 100% correct, so don’t blame me if something ends up missing. Have fun!


16 Responses to “Lame Duck”

  1. Dan Says:

    This is interesting to me, because for the longest time, iChat’s file transfers have not worked for me, however, using Adium works 90% of the time.

    I too love the stability of iChat, but i keep coming back to Adium for the multiple account ability. *sits back and waits for october*

  2. Josh Says:

    Would you be able to tell us what Adium theme you are using, or how you’ve customized your contact list because that looks fantastic.

    Great post by the way, I feel your pain as well

  3. Ged Says:

    Dan – Yeah, the unspoken issue here is what will iChat be like come Leopard’s release. We know some of what it will be able to do and I suspect after WWDC, we’ll have a better idea of what it will finally look like. Adium’s ability to interact with more than just AIM is really its killer feature and iChat needs to catch up.

    Josh – Click on the small thumb and you’ll see more info on the theme being used. It’s basically a tweaked version of “Decay” which can be found at the Adium Xtras page along with custom status icons I made myself. Thanks for the kind words about the post. Glad I’m not alone.

  4. Do you know the alien from John Carpenter’s Dark Star? In the german localization this alien is called “Der Exot”, which is one of the rare cases of a localization being better (i.e. more funny here).

    Greetings from the Viennese Exot! :-)

    PS. I hate Adium. Unfortunately iChat hates me. In the future everything will be better.

  5. TK Says:

    Agreed. I love Adium, but a file transfer has never once completed successfully for me. However, lucky me, I almost never have to use that non-existent feature.

  6. Josh Says:

    The Frenzic icons are amazing. Downloaded your contact list package, most things carry over. Thanks for putting it up! Subscribed to the RSS feed just

  7. Josh Says:

    Ged I know this isn’t a support forum, but I couldn’t find a contact email and Twitter’s 140 character limit doesn’t suit this. Installed the Frenzic icons..absolutely fantastic..closed down Adium…reopened and in the message window the ‘Available’ Frenzic icon is replaced by the default. Everything else is fine. Don’t know whether it’s a problem on my end or not. Twitter me if you find a problem at jl24.

  8. Ged Says:

    Josh, that’s weird. I see the available icon okay on mine. One thing I have not tackled yet are the icons on the message tabs themselves. But all of the list icons should be there and working okay.

    Unfortunately I’ve not tinkered with my Adium theme for a long time so I’m not sure what could be the problem. I’ll take another look and let you know if I spot anything wrong.

    If you want to contact me directly, I suggest using the contact page at the Iconfactory. I see every message that goes through there. Thanks!

  9. WTL Says:

    I’m in the same boat as you – I had to dump Adium for iChat so that file transfers would work. Sure, in general, Adium is a better program. However, no file transfers, no Adium.

  10. Caitlyn Imburgo Says:

    Thanks for the Adium theme, Ged. I really really like it! :)

    But I sadly agree with you. I wish Adium had better file transfer abilities.

  11. Have you filed a bug with us on this? Use what you need to use, but complaining in a blog post doesn’t help us whereas filing bugs with us does.

    Also, if you guys depend on file transfer so much, perhaps setting up a file server is a better solution than depending on instant messaging to bust through multiple weird network setups? I’d seriously look at a better solution than im to handle your file sharing needs.

  12. Ged Says:


    I wrote twice and never heard anything back. You’re comment here seems defensive and I’m sorry if you don’t like to hear the truth, but reliable file transfers for an instant messaging client are a pretty basic feature. I’m sorry the technical issues surrounding this issue are giving you guys such a hard time.

    In case it wasn’t obvious from the post, I really do like Adium, and despite the file transfer problem, I’m STILL using it even though I have to switch back to iChat every single time I want to send or receive a file.

    For the record, at home, I’m not “busting through” multiple weird network setups. I have no firewall at home, I connect straight through to the Internet, as do my friends and I still have problems. If I can’t just drop a screen grab or a picture to a buddy from my IM list, I’m not about to set up an FTP space or other third party solution just so I can show someone something quick and dirty.

    Let me know if I can help in any way. I’d be more than happy to offer console logs or do some testing if it helps resolve the issue. Thanks.

  13. Where is the trac ticket for this? If you wrote in twice, you should have 2 tickets then. If you used the feedback address, I’m sorry, but that gets spammed more and more and it’s just hard to keep up with anymore. Our documentation specifically says how to file a bug though, here:

    My post is not defensive, you’re reading too much into it.

    File transfer is not a basic feature. im’ing is.

    Just because your home box is connected to the internet directly, that doesn’t mean that the network in between isn’t strange in some way. I wonder if you have the os x firewall on and are blocking the aim ft ports with it.

  14. Ged Says:

    I’ll spend some time reproducing the problem and file an official bug report with the required information. My prior report in was not done this way, it was simply emails to your main contact address. I can see how that might get lost via spam.

    Not sure the console will report anything as the app just hangs during transfers, but I’ll take a look. Thanks and good luck!

  15. Try one of the betas, it has a debug console log in it, could prove to be useful.

  16. […] status settings, improved audio and video conferencing (something Adium is just now adding) and unlike Adium, file transfers work every time. One downside however is the ability to set invisible status […]

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