Empathy chat room improvements

Folks who’ve tried using Empathy for IRC will have found the experience a bit lacking. While some of this is due to Empathy itself, many of the problems are due to Idle, the Telepathy backend for IRC, being sorely in need of love and caring. Happily, Debarshi Ray has taken it under his wing. Most visibly, he’s implemented the ContactInfo interface, which allows Telepathy UIs to show WHOIS information. I threw together a few patches for Empathy to take advantage of this information:

Contact information for ‘wjt’ on Freenode, showing other channels, away message, and other IRC-specific details

Please ignore the ‘missing image’ icon!

Sadly, the “Channels” field is not very useful on most major networks, like Freenode, since—by default—you can only see the rooms that both you and the contact are in. In the past, on IRC, that window was positively anaemic, showing only the first three lines. Now it’s full of information, and could do with some advice from designer types: how can we show all the information described in his blog post without the dialog becoming even more a massive grid of words?

Rishi’s also fixed up many less obvious annoyances in Idle, like making it sending pings to keep otherwise-idle (ahem) connections alive. It’s great to have him on board!

Stepping away from IRC, I’ve recently been using XMPP chat rooms more, and noticed a subtle improvement implemented by Chandni: Empathy now shows per-user typing notifications in the user list. Now I wish this were possible on IRC too, or that more channels would move to XMPP: it’s really useful information to have, particularly in smallish rooms.