Pidgin usability look on the web

Ethan Blanton elb at
Tue Aug 26 10:01:49 EDT 2008

Richard Laager spake unto us the following wisdom:
> On Tue, 2008-08-26 at 13:52 +0100, Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:
> > >> Once I’d entered someone’s name, Pidgin would then unfailingly report
> > >> that “No logs were found”, because “Instant messages will only be
> > >> logged if the "Log all instant messages" preference is enabled”, and
> > >> that preference was disabled by default.
> > > 
> > > The preference is disabled by default for privacy reasons.
> > 
> > I can understand that that would make sense on an OS that encourages a
> > single user account, or at a kiosk or Internet cafe where many people
> > use the same computer without having individual accounts. But Ubuntu
> > both encourages individuals to have separate accounts, and (as of
> > Intrepid) will have a guest account that better caters for the kiosk case.
> > 
> > Even so, Web browsers collect history by default, so it's surprising for
> > Pidgin to take the opposite approach.

This is non-sequitur and a non-argument.  :-P  "X is dumb, so Y should
be dumb."  I am personally disappointed that web browsers/etc. save
history, cookies, and other potentially private information past the
current session without user intervention.  Ubuntu may disagree with
this, and that's unfortunate, but it's going to have to be a
disagreement.  We should not save passwords by default, collect logs
by default, etc.  As Richard points out, there exists a default
preferences mechanism if Ubuntu chooses to buck this trend.

> > And at the very, very least, the autocomplete menu could autocomplete
> > names from your buddy list regardless of whether they had logged
> > conversations yet, *but* disable the "OK" button for those who didn't,
> > offering an inline explanation above. That would at least save you two
> > clicks/keypresses in opening and closing the error alert.
> What if we did this and when opening the "View User Log" window,
> pre-filled it with the name of the current buddy (and highlighted it).
> Thus, it's just as easy to type new text as now, but you save some
> effort if you want the currently selected buddy. We could probably also
> special-case the "no logs at all" case. This should be relatively easy
> to implement, so we'd get some benefits now. A "Log Manager" could be
> implemented later.

This was going to be my suggestion, precisely.  I see no reason that
the various Buddies menu items which accept an argument of a buddy
could not pre-stuff the buddy entry with the currently selected buddy.
This seems like a good idea to me.

As far as the other logging comments ... I completely agree that
Pidgin has only a rudimentary logging infrastructure and would benefit
from a more complete log viewer.  That is a reasonable feature request
(and probably one already in the tracker).  It also will take a lot of
time and effort to get right.  Your comment that the computer can
troll through logs much more quickly than the user is absolutely
correct, but on the other hand that can indeed be an expensive troll
which should be avoided or optimized wherever possible.  My
.purple/logs directory is nearly 75MB, and I doubt I have anything
like the largest log directory on this list.  When I search my own
logs (and I do so using the traditional Unix text-processing tools --
something I realize Ubuntu has given up on, for better or for worse) I
try to scope the search as narrowly as is reasonable for this very
reason.  Our log layout was chosen to make this easy, in fact.

None of that is to suggest that we don't need a better log viewer, we
do.  I just isn't likely to happen overnight.  ;-)


The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws [that have no remedy
for evils].  They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor
determined to commit crimes.
		-- Cesare Beccaria, "On Crimes and Punishments", 1764
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