Text Messaging Application Design

Christie Dudley longobord at gmail.com
Tue Oct 23 18:21:02 CEST 2007

I'm coming in a bit late on this discussion, perhaps, so apologies if I
bring up something that's already been discussed.

I use text on my current phone extensively.  SMS is a pretty minuscule part
of it and I really prefer all the other protocols that are running out
there.  What's important to me is the ability to:

1) support multiple protocols and multiple simultaneous messages
2) Receive notification of new messages (configurable for sound, flashing,
and plugged into sound schemes)
3) switch between simultaneous message windows easily

Most of these features are supported in Pidgin, except SMS.  Probably need a
bit of UI redesign to fit the format, though.  Sorting users into groups is
helpful, but not a priority, so long as offline users aren't competing for
real estate with others.  (I have ~100 or so contacts on all the protocols I
run, but only a handful are online at any given time.)

SMS is a special case, as it's a "send and forget" protocol, unlike any of
the other messaging protocols (AIM, Jabber, etc.) You don't keep track of
whether who you're sending messages to are online or not.  You want to be
able to message complete unknowns on the fly, etc.  It makes sense to have a
unified interface for all message protocols, but you need to have
flexibility enough to accommodate the requirements of the different

One of the issues I have with Pidgin and other message clients is the large
amount of screen space that is given to group headers.  I'm not sure how
you'd get around that, though.  I think part of the problem is that each
service has their own headers and when you preserve them on a combination
client, you wind up with potentially a very large number of headers.


On 10/22/07, Jon <openmoko at snowulf.com> wrote:
> On 10/22/07, Bryan Copeland <bcopeld at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Hey Jon sorry about the mix-up,
> >
> > Agreed... image was huge, I have damn Gmail to thank for making me lazy.
> > Basically you read me right, and I think it works for Text Messages and
> > Email both. "Friends" is a really broad term, surely you must be able to
> > group them a little further?
> >
> > For example, I don't mind sharing that in my MSN List I have the
> > following groups of friends:
> > -Acadia (University)
> >    -->Still There
> >    -->Alumni
> > -Japan
> > -IUJ
> >    -->Still There
> >    -->Alumni
> > -Moncton
> > -Halifax
> > -Out West
> > -Sony
> > -Other Contacts
> >
> > It's useful because sometimes two friends in different groups have the
> > same name, and I don't exactly memorize nicknames or handles, so it helps me
> > understand who a message is coming from. Personally, I also like to keep all
> > the groups closed until I receive messages then quickly snap the group open
> > and message away... presenting a better, more intuitive view to that was my
> > suggestion
> >
> > Of course, the great thing about MSN is that its simple to use, that's
> > what really made it take off over other alternatives. So the ability to
> > present a standard flat list view is also important. Maybe as Jon mentioned
> > IM and Mobile Texting are best viewed as two entirely different concepts
> > too. What does everyone think?
> >
> > Bryan
> >
> Bryan,
> As for instant messaging - you are correct, I have a slightly more refined
> groups.  I have "Goons" (which is most people), "Important" (duh) and
> "Ladies" (duh).  At least for me, Text Messaging and Instant Messaging are a
> bit different.   For example, of the 52 people in my address book on my
> phone.  I text message only 6 of them on any regular basis (I mean that as
> little as once every 3 months).  I would consider them all important friends
> and wouldn't really break down the list any more.  Maybe it is because I'm
> not a big text'r (I only have a 200msg/mo plan).  That probably explains why
> I don't understand the need for "groups" in Text Messaging.  I would hazard
> a guess that if I was a 16 year old girl and was sending/receiving 7K text
> messages a month, I'd want to know if certain people contacted me more
> ("Best friends forever") more than others ("girlfriend from class"?).
> Even if we don't have a graphical view, and have a "thread" view, there is
> nothing wrong with the idea of grouping contacts, and having certain groups
> show up top before other messages.  Maybe color coded threads?  More
> important = Brighter colors?
> There might also be a discussion for the PIM application itself in here,
> the ability to store metadata (like grouping users).  That way you can
> configure the "weight" (or importance) of groups.  Regardless, before we get
> too much into that - probably should take the convo back into the mailing
> list.
> -Jon

Nothing is as damning as the lies you tell yourself.
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