MeeboMe and Pidgin is like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Update: 9/23/2009

I haven’t used this setup for well over a year, as for some reason it stopped connecting to the Meebo Widget.  However, the newest version of Trillian works great with the Meebo Widget, and I have written a guide that details how to set it up.

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Hey, you got your meebome in my Pidgin. Hey, your Pidgin is in my MeeboMe. Hmmmm boy, does that taste good.

So I was in a OhioLINK meeting yesterday, and one of the committee members told me that her colleague, Andrew Whitis, had gotten a meebome widget to work with Pidgin. They use Pidgin instead of Trillian to connect to multiple IM clients. Being able to connect to the meebome widget through my IM client sounded like a dream come true, so I decided to check it out. For libraries who staff IM with Trillian, a Meebome widget with meebo, and skype with skype, logging into to three different things can be quite the ordeal. Even NASA doesn’t have to start as many programs when launching the shuttle. I’ve written before about using multiple clients, so this seems to help get rid of the need to log into meebo. I downloaded and installed this plugin, and thus far it seems to be working great. Here’s what I did.

  1. First, I updated my version of Pidgin (formerly GAIM) to the latest version. You can download the software here.
  2. I then did a quick Google search and found this plugin, and installed it as directed into my Pidgin plugins folder. With a default Windows installation, you will find the Pidgin plugins folder at C:\Program Files\Pidgin\plugins. To install the plugin, simply copy the meebo.dll file that you downloaded into this directory.
  3. Next, I restarted Pidgin and activated the plugin. If you do not restart Pidgin after copying the plugin into the directory, it will likely not show up in the plugin list. You will find the plugins feature under the “Tools” menu in the Pidgin buddylist. Once the plugins window is open, you simply need to check the box to activate the plugin. See image below.
    meebo_plugins_pidgin.jpg
  4. Next, I created an account in Pidgin to connect to the Meebome widget. To add an account in Pidgin, click on the “Accounts” menu in the buddylist and then select “Add Edit.” Per the directons on the plugin page, you will need to enter these settings in your new meebo account in Pidgin: In the Basic tab, make sure you have the following:
    • Protocol: XMPP
    • Domain: meebo.org
    • Resource: Home

    (Note: The screenshot below is my settings for my own widget. Your Screen name and password will be different.)
    meebo_basicsettings_pidgin.jpg
    In the Advanced tab, you should have the following:

    • Connect port: 5222
    • Connect server: meebo.org

    meebo_advancedsettings_pidgin.jpg

After that, you should be good to go. Once a patron hits the widget on your website, the plugin will automatically create a buddy in your buddy list. Here is picture of the buddy list:
meebo_buddylist_pidgin.jpg

Once a patron starts chatting with you, it looks the same as a regular instant messaging session:
meebo_patron_pidgin.jpg

Now there are a few things to consider, particularly if your library staffs IM reference like we do. Unlike Trillian, there is not a setting to “connect to this account on startup.” However, Pidgin does remember the accounts that you were connected to when you exited the program. In a library setting where multiple users staff a IM reference service, logging in and logging out at the shift change time can be tricky at times. If the previous librarian is currently talking to a patron at the top of the hour, and you log into all IM accounts, you will boot the previous librarian out of the IM account. To remedy this, you may need to only connect to the accounts where there is no patron at the time. Pidgin does allow you to connect to only the accounts that you enable. In the buddy list, you can enable or disable accounts under the “Accounts” menu. Enabling/Disabling is the same as Connecting/Disconnecting in Trillian. At shift change, the previous librarian should “Disable” an account to log out, rather than simply closing out of the Pidgin application. This will allow the librarian the opportunity to selectively “enable” accounts the next time he/she starts Pidgin. As you can see from the screenshot below, I am able to connect to my personal IM accounts, my person meebome widget, our library reference IM account, and our library reference meebome widget. Before using this plugin, I would have been logged into Trillian for all IM accounts, while also having two different instances of Meebo running to connect to both widgets. This plugin definitely makes things a lot cleaner and easier. Upon logging out of our library IM reference accounts and meebom account, I will free those accounts up for the next person that logs in. However, I will leave my personal accounts checked, so that those accounts will start automatically when I restart the program.
meebo_accounts_pidgin.jpg

I’m very excited about this plugin, and I think it will make things easier for libraries who are staffing multiple IM accounts and Meebome widgets. I’ll continue to put the plugin and client through its paces, and I believe fall quarter will be a prime time to do so. More to come later.

28 thoughts on “MeeboMe and Pidgin is like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups”

  1. Seems like a lot of work, when you could just use the Plugoo widget or AIM’s new Wimzi widget. Both will talk with your IM client of choice (well Wimzi will only talk to your AIM account, but who doesn’t have one of them). Plugoo has the bonus of doing offline email messages.

  2. Hi DerikB,
    Thanks for the suggestions. I like AIM and Plugoo as well, but there are a couple of limitations with each one. While the AIM Wimzi widget is cool, it lacks audio notifications of the patron end. I see this as an important feature to have, particularly if a user opens a new browser window and minimizes the widget. Plugoo is also cool, but last time I checked, it would not allow for more than one simultaneous conversation. I often have several Meebome conversations going at once, and I think it would be an inconvenience to our users if they had to wait for one conversation to be over before they could ask a question. However, I do see that both may be a tad easier to setup, but honestly, setting up Pidgin to work with Meebo was a breeze. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I did what you suggested, set up 2 Meebos, one for me and one for the department, with the other chats pulled into meebo. This is working well for me. It was easier than this looks.

  4. I’m not familiar with your exact setup but wouldn’t it be easier to set up an XMPP server (http://www.igniterealtime.org/projects/openfire/index.jsp is nice) and use that as a gateway to all the other protocols? That way you only have to sign onto one account and it does the rest. But this means that you would have to maintain your own server and I don’t know what your financial, etc situation is like there.

  5. Another option is using the hab.la’s widget. It lets you chat with visitors to your site similarly to Meebome, but also let’s you customize the front end a lot more, and is persistent across multiple pages. For example, the chat can follow a visitor to your site from page to page without closing the chat. We will be adding the option to have the client produce audio alerts soon.

    The website is: http://www.hab.la

  6. if you share your pc and use pidgin:

    CAUTION!!!
    CUIDADO!!!!

    there is an “accounts.xml” file with all your accounts/passwords NON cripted , full readable form.

    totally inacceptable.

  7. Thanks! This solves several annoying problems! We monitor IM in a loud, busy area and it’s tough to hear the little meebo beep. With Pidgin, I can record my dogs barking as an alert.

  8. We (Grand Valley State) have been using GAIM (and now Pidgin) with the MeeboMe widget for a few months now. It’s worked pretty well, though we have a few minor issues:

    (1) Our (librarian) Mac users still have to use Meebo; Adium would generally be a good tool, but they lack a plug-in.

    (2) We’d like to allow people with Google Talk to message us, too, but we run into the same problem. It seems like it should be a pretty straightforward matter to simply tweak Mr. Pomeroy’s plugin (since both Google Talk and the Meebo widget are based on an XMPP protocol), but sadly, my coding-fu is not up to snuff.

    We’ve had a few other minor problems, but nothing I’d be able to identify as a systemic problem.

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