Friday, December 30, 2005

2005 Retrospective

So it's time to look back and see how we did in 2005.

Things we did right:

AIM Triton 1.0.  Back in 2004, we had gotten to a point with the AIM 5.x codebase where we knew we could not innovate significantly any longer. The UI was hard to update, our Unicode (non-English characters) support was awful, the HTML renderer was a conglomeration of patches... we needed to rewrite almost everything... and so we did, resulting in AIM Triton. Yes, AIM Triton does not yet have all the features of AIM 5.9, including several important ones, and I will be the first to admit that we need to continue to fix bugs and improve performance. Nevertheless, the new platform that we have established is much better in terms of overall correctness and flexibility than what we had before, and getting there has been a substantial achievement.. The new UI is great and the plugin support will open the door to lots of neat stuff - plus we're working hard on getting your most-requested features back in for the next Triton releases.

AIM Developer APIs. From the humble beginnings in AIM URLs and big.oscar.aol.com, we have been working to open up AIM to the outside. And now with the AIM Presence API and the upcoming release of the AIM Triton Plugin API we are have an opportunity for people to build real applications on our platform. This new opennness may be suprising to some, but we've wanted to do this for a long time - we know we don't have all the ideas!

AIMFight. Two guys did this as a quick fun feature that they thought people would enjoy. So it was pretty awesome to see it make the front page of the Washington Post. The profligation of widgets that display the AIM fight scores are also great - another example of people using our AIM APIs.

And things we didn't:

The AIM Terms of Service. A couple of unclear sentences in the TOS and we find ourselves looking like we're trying to claim ownership of everyone's AIM conversations. Of course this was untrue, but getting that cleared up resulted in a very unfun week.

The AIM Profile hyperlink: I thought everyone would love the new all-in-one AIM Profile/Away page. And, we thought, what better way to let people know about it than putting a link in users' profiles? Well, as it turns out, people don't like having a profile they carefully created altered in any way. This was a case where we thought we were doing a good thing, but the way we did it made it a mess.

Megabots. I think the Moviefone bot is pretty neat, but I knew forcing it into the buddylist, especially at the top, was going to cause an outcry. Having just been through the AIM Profile hyperlink issue, we tried our best to argue against this same sort of unwanted change to personal data...

So, there it is. There are many other wins that I don't have the space to talk about now (500 buddies, JAMS, VoIP), and there are many other bad ideas that we prevented as a result of our constant fight to "do no evil". We (AIM teams) worked really hard to do cool stuff in 2005, and you can expect the same of us in 2006. Happy New Year!


3 comments:

josephmaaz said...

I would say that is an accurate summary of AIM 2005.  Lets hope we keep the locomotive that is powering your department of AOL to keep going into 2006 with new products and services.

- Joe

dygitaljoe said...

I also had a recap of the past year with AOL.

Take a look - http://journals.aol.com/josephmaaz/happenings/entries/612 :-)

- Joe (again)

taz0jam said...

In order for the BuddyInfo page to be sucessfull, comments need to be integrated into the buddyinfo area on aim triton. Soo below your profile clicking a button shows your comments withtin the window and send you another link for more comments