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Thursday, March 6, 2008

AOL Opens AIM for Open Source

For the last two years, AOL has been promoting its OpenAIM initiative
as a vehicle to enable developers to build their own AIM (AOL Instant
Messenger)-based clients. But there were issues with documentation that
got in the way of some projects. With the release of Open AIM 2.0 today,
AOL is aiming AIM at open source developers with more ease-of-use tools.
Among the major changes in Open AIM 2.0 is the fact that AOL is now
providing open documentation on its core OSCAR protocol (Open System
for CommunicAtion in Realtime), which powers AIM. Previously, open
source instant messaging client implementations of OSCAR had to
reverse-engineer the protocol instead of simply using a documented
protocol. Although Open AIM 2.0 provides open access to the OSCAR
protocols, developers need to do something for AOL in return. AOL
requires that developers choose two options from a list of five items
that must be added to an Open AIM-based client. The list includes the
addition of display ads, a link to include the AIM toolbar, showing AIM
buddy icons, displaying AIM buddy information or displaying the AIM
start page. Cypes noted that a number of open source AIM implementations
already provide the buddy icon and information features so he expects
no major issues. In addition to being open with OSCAR, Open AIM 2.0
also lifts the Open AIM 1.0 restriction on multi-headed clients. That
is to say, Open AIM will now allow users to build IM clients that
support AIM as well as IM protocols from other vendors, including Jabber
(XMPP), Yahoo, and Microsoft.

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