Adium vs. Proteus

Posted on Nov 22, 2004

Pedro’s rant about Adium X is puzzling, because the rant is based around a comparison with Proteus. Let’s consider the points:

  1. address book integration is shit: It’s true that Proteus is better in this respect, though it never actually occurred to me that I might want to have ‘meta’ contacts. Now that it’s been pointed out I agree that it’s a nice feature and Adium is clunky.
  2. it’s full of […] useless eye candy that just takes up screen real estate, …: I can’t tell the difference between Adium and Proteus in this respect. The default configuration of the two contact lists look the same. Adium shows pictures for more of my contacts than Proteus, which I don’t understand (as I don’t store any pictures in my address book). Apart from that it’s hard to tell them apart.
  3. events have been available in im clients for eons: Sure. I’ve never used them.
  4. if i wanted to choose between a million themes, …: Again, Proteus and Adium seem very similar in this respect. You don’t have to change the theme from the default.
  5. who gives a shit about rendez-vous im’ing?: I’ve never used it in iChat, though I can see how it would be useful if I was at a conference where lots of the attendees are using a wireless network. When you already know someone it’s pretty pointless, but for joining in some kind of social event it looks interesting. Oh, and Proteus also supports it, so it’s not really a distinguishing feature.
  6. you can have 42 annoying sounds or none at all.: Compare this complaint with number four. Either the application developer should make the (right) decisions for you or they should let you tweak ’til your happy. Which should it be?
  7. …the flipping duck.: Shrug, it’s a bit of humour. Is that so bad?

Overall most of the complaints about Adium apply equally to Proteus. I’d guess that developing multi-platform IM clients for Mac OS X is effectively and arms race - you have to add features and capabilities faster than the other guy to stay ahead. Both Proteus and Adium are moving quite quickly, which is great for their users.

The fact that Adium is free software is appealing, to me at least. I won’t get trapped into a dead-end if the Proteus developer decides that he needs to do something else. For IM this is reasonably important, as the services and their protocols change and mutate over time. If Proteus is abandoned I’m stuck. With Adium at least I’ll have the option of diving in and fixing it myself.

The biggest surprise for me is that neither of these applications have replicated the audio/video features of iChat. It would be nice!