Blog Post

Ajax-based IM, Meebo

As Ajax spreads it wings, folks are using it to come up with cool new apps. Writely, was one. Latest – Meebo, a web-based IM client. Through Ajax, the folks at meebo were able to create a virtual application-like experience within a single web browsing window. meebo integrates a user’s accounts from AIM, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, and ICQ into a single buddy list that is automatically populated upon signing into the meebo web site. Sort of like Trillian/Adium, but in a browser window. The interface is so simple and elegant. It is still alpha so be kind. It as a few issues, so be kinder. But this is slowly turning browser into more than just a browser. Like Writely, Meebo is a three-person start-up. Elaine Wherry – the Ajax guru; Sandy Jen – Server side programming; and Seth Sternberg – jack of everything else. Mark Jen has an indepth look at this app.

169 Responses to “Ajax-based IM, Meebo”

  1. Is Meebo service legal? Do Meebo has the right to provide service owned by others (MSN, YM)?

    I think Meebo will take Yahoo’s revenue from advertisement. Is it legally OK?

  2. serious bob

    My school has blocked all the different ports on the network. We can’t get to meebo using the different numbers. is there any other way? The school has blocked everything except java from what we can tell.

  3. I think meebo is great! It’s a really cool and useful implementation of AJAX, and it’s simple in scope, which is elegant.

    However, I wonder if they’ve found a cool way around a problem that may face my company (we’re involved in pay-for-IM stuff). All the IM network user agreements have provisions against this kind of thing. Google’s agreement is the nicest, but AOL and Yahoo (or maybe it was MSN) are pretty restrictive.

    Of course, with $3-4M in funding this week and with the friends that come with that money, meebo should have a better time working with the IM biggies to work out any problems.

    We hope to get past similar problems, but ours is a little deeper, because we turn IMing into pure commerce, which has traditionally been a no-no (in fact, the IM user agreements are very specific about not even using IM for business).

    We’re not lawyers, but we figure this language is really more about the IM network providers not wanting any liability for business interruption (and not so much that they just don’t want IM used for business in some general sense).

    — Lance
    — FaceBridge

  4. yeah… there any other sort of program/website that is similar to this??my school filter still blocks out the meebo site under the definition “chat”. if anyone finds something, email it to me with “meebo alt” in the subect line…..

  5. ya so here’s what it’s prolly frequently used by… bored school girls (me, which explains why im writing this) whose schools have blocked aim and we can’t figure out the right ports to use to proxy or we do and it cuts us off after 3 minutes so we found meebo and then our school blocked that too… so… anyone know of something similair or how to get around St. Bernard all together?? aside from a free proxy website like guardster because they’re blocking that too

  6. While AJAX has been great with gmail and such web2 mashups, what we really need is user-friendly mobile computing. If the problem of user-interfaces for this were solved, we would really see a billion of these mobile computers, with everyone using verious software applications from these mobile friendly edge devices. Can AJAX be adopted to solve the wireless user-interface problem ?

  7. Taylor Francis

    Meebo is great, but it’s going completely in the wrong direction. A good feature of an IM, but IM is moving towards many different forms of graphics (AV, VoIM, Breeze and Webex-type apps), and Meebo is stuck in the background, holding onto the idea that text chat is the future (with the application of AJAX and universal accessibility of course). Good idea, but wrong direction.

  8. An AJAX Office Suite makes sense as that allows you to store your documents on the server with web based access/editing from any desktop ,but a AJAX IM ?? . I hate technology for the sake of technology so i am standing by my previous comment !.

    But said all these i have to say thats a nice piece of engineering and wish them good luck!

  9. Hey Om, while the technology might be cool I see a very big issue with this kind of rolling up of identity be start-ups.

    Here it is:

    I imagine one of my kids saying, “Dad, I heard about a cool site called Meebo where I just have to give them my MSN, AOL, and Yahoo IDs and passwords and they’ll let me use their great new website. Can I use it?”

    And I imagine myself saying “No. Haven’t you her about phishing? Whatever you do, NEVER give anyone your passwords.”

    How does a start-up get over the trust issue?

    • Rich Hartley

      Here is it 2009, Meebo is no longer a “startup” but somehow my yahoo messenger password was sold/stolen or hacked to send spam yahoo messenger spam. I use meebo exclusively, mostly from Debian machines though occasionally from xp or vista.

      Trust is always an issue when you hand some website your password. Meebo may not be directly at fault, but I won’t be using meebo anymore.

      Even if not for the sold/stolen or hacked password issue…each time I sign in the pop-over ads, some with audio on meebo are increasingly more shrill and obnoxious on a daily basis.

      Now I DO understand that programmers do not work for free, and it costs money to host a website so if it’s your model to sell ads the burden is on you to make sure they are annoying enough to get someone’s attention and yet unobtrusive enough to prevent functionality and thus alienating your visitors.

  10. To answer the second comment, I need it! My corporate firewall blocks me from using AIM. Now I have a nice web-based application that will tunnel through that! I’m going to test it tomorrow when I get to work and I’ll let you know.

  11. To answer the first comment, voice is more difficult in a web browser for a couple of reasons. To do binary byte manipulation which is necessary for RTP, the language needs to be able to handle unsigned chars or something easily. Javascript is not well suited to this task. The other issue is access to the soundcard. Javascript does not natively allow you to have arbitrary access to soundcard samples.

    Both of these problems can be solved by wrapping Java modules with Javascript interfaces but its ugly and requires the browser to have Java working which breaks Ajax.