Liferay Featured @ HTML5 Gallery

Company Blogs March 23, 2010 By Jonathan Neal

Good news, everyone; has been featured at HTML5 Gallery for our recent move to HTML5. Visit their entry for Liferay @

What is HTML5 Gallery? HTML5 Gallery showcases sites using HTML5 markup, and right now we're one of only five commercial sites listed, and within that category one of only two in English. We're also the only featured portal company running HTML5. Take the time to check out the site, other sites running HTML5, and rate some of your favorite HTML5 websites.

What is HTML5 and what is all the fuss about? HTML5 is a new version of HTML which addresses new challenges we face in modern web development; everything from writing web applications and maintaining sanity, creating more distinguished content using shiny, new elements, acknowledging the huge accessibility advances and opportunities available in HTML5, and offering the future of web media using Video, Audio, and Canvas.

Are browsers going to support this new HTML5 wonderful-ness? Yes, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera have been supporting much of HTML5 for months, and Microsoft is "all in" in IE9. Older Internet Explorer browsers can support the structural markup of these new elements with an enabling script.

HTML5 will also have a significant impact on Search Engine Optimization because we're adding value to entire sections of content as strong and emphasis elements have done for portions of content. This translates to accurate, relevant, pinpointed search results.

So what did the fine folks at HTML5 Gallery have to say? Here's the quote from their notes.

Liferay is a provider of market leading open source portal, web publishing, content, and collaboration solutions. The outline of the site is good with each section clearly defined. I'm not too sure about using the article element for the rotating banners on the homepage though. I wouldn't describe this as content that "is intended to be independently distributed".

As cliche as it may sound, our move to HTML5 has presented many exciting new opportunities and challenges. HTML5 is the new frontier, so the benefit of innovation reaps in many rewards (both for now and for the future), but also comes with the risk of getting it wrong too. Personally, I'm thrilled that we were acknowledged for the Outliner friendliness, especially considering the above thoughts on SEO. As for making banner an article, I'm still considering the best way to move forward in scenarios where you would group collections previews or archives of content. Do these groups of article snippits compose their own complete article? Their own complete section? Are they actually several articles (with individual outlining weight of their own) in one larger container?

The discussion never ends and the beat goes on.

All for one and one for all: cross-browser compatibility

Company Blogs August 10, 2009 By Jonathan Neal

"You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into..."

The Cross-Browser Compatibility Zone.

Tonight I want to cover cross-browser compatibility in Liferay, why I think you should develop on Firefox, and a few tricks to help those IE6 headaches.

If you've been lucky enough to not know what cross-browser compatibility is, it's the effect of a consistent visual and operative experience on a web site across multiple browsers. As of writing tonight's blog, these browsers usually include Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 and Mozilla Firefox 3, but may also include Apple Safari 4, the recently released Internet Explorer 8, Google Chrome 2, the older Internet Explorer 6, and very, very rarely, Opera 9. If the browser you're being asked to support didn't make this list, then you may want to double-check the time that you allotted yourself for this project, and the invoice you were planning to write (read: more cash).

In some cases, the work needed to get your site looking decent in that other browser isn't such a big deal, especially when many new browsers share the same rendering engines, thusly working and display things in the same way. In other *cough, corporate, cough* cases, it's a nightmare that you can't ever wake up from, a day terror which feeds on the life between sunrise and sunset; in any case, medication is usually involved.

Your first prescription: Liferay

Liferay boasts two fantastic, out-of-the-box cross-browser compatibility tools; Browser Selectors, and easy-to-use 24-bit PNG support for Internet Explorer 6.

See, in Liferay, Browser Selectors are classnames that allow you to style for specific browsers and even specific versions of a browser in CSS. For example, if I wanted to write customized styles for a portlet in only Internet Explorer browsers, but not other browsers like Firefox, Safari, etc, then I could write .ie .portlet { border: 1px solid black; } and only Internet Explorer browsers would get the 1px black border. In another example, writing .ie6 .portlet{ color: red; } would color the text of portlets red in Internet Explorer 6 specifically, but not IE7 or IE8. The ability to style for a certain browser or a certain browser version gives you a relieving edge in your daily web development, especially when just one browser needs just a little cleanup to match the rest of the flock.

By the way, you can learn more about Browser Selectors by reading Nate Cavanaugh's awesome blog on the subject.

Liferay also includes a script for simulating 24-bit PNG support in Internet Explorer 6, "fixing" the broken alpha-channel transparency via javascript. You can take advantage of this feature with your own images in Liferay by adding the classname png to any 24-bit png image that you are using, or even an element that uses a 24-bit PNG as a background image like <img src="alpha.png" class="png" />

Doctors orders: Develop with Firefox

The best browser to develop your web site on is Firefox, and for three reasons which I'll list for you now.

  • 1. Firefox's rendering engine, Gecko, gives you the most encompassing impression of what your site will look like on all browsers. More often than in any other browser, a good looking page in Firefox usually means a good looking page elsewhere.
  • 2. Writing well-formed, standards-compliant HTML code will produce the best viewing results the most often in Firefox. Therefore, much like the first reason, if it's written right, and it looks right, then odds are it is right.
  • 3. Firefox offers hundreds of developer extensions that can save hours of development time per project, three of which I absolutely recommend and will highlight for you now.
    • 1. Firebug lets you debug, edit, and monitor any of a page's CSS, HTML, DOM, and JavaScript. It also gives you a very handy-dandy JavaScript console for logging errors and sandboxing.
    • 2. Pixel Perfect, which is an extension within Firebug, lets you place graphics (eg: your designer's PNG file) on top of the actual page which is great for a namesaking pixel perfect design.
    • 3. FireShot lets you capture, edit, exports, even annotate screenshots of a web page. This becomes extremely useful when you need to double check your work back in Photoshop

A deeper diagnosis: The grayer foxes, v3.0.13, v2.0.0.20 and elder.

Whoa, am I suggesting that you support multiple versions of Firefox? Well, no, but in the interests of being thorough, I want to cover cross-browser compatibility within multiple versions of a single browser, and I'm going to start with Firefox. While this might seem niche, Firefox can honestly surprise you from time to time. See, each new version of Firefox unfortunately does a better job at making your poorly written, poorly styled HTML look good. Adding that align="center" property to some DIV tags might not look as awful as it should in Firefox 3.5, but it will still reek in Firefox 3.0.12 - this really happened to me in the last few weeks.

I've found that using PortableApps's portable Firefox is the easiest way to manage my older releases without complicating the Add/Remove section of my Control Panel.

To allow multiple versions of Firefox to run on your machine then you'll need to configure just one INI file. Once you've installed portable Firefox version X, navigate into the \FirefoxPortable\Other\Source\ directory and find the FirefoxPortable.ini file, then copy it to the root \FirefoxPortable\ directory alongside the FirefoxPortable.exe application. Now, edit this INI file and change the value of AllowMultipleInstances from false to true. Do this for any versions of Firefox you want to run alongside your latest copy.

Walking with crutches: Internet Explorer

I'm avoiding the IE word, aren't I? Don't I know that supporting Internet Explorer 6 is a huge waste of time?

Why, yes. Yes, I do.

Really, IE6's existence has more to do with insufficiently funded IT departments than any actual user preference. It's old and it needs to go the way of the rickroll. This month IE6 will be 8 years old, that's in a time when Firefox and Safari updates come less than 8 months apart. Do you get me, man? Get off your iPhone and pay attention - IE6 came out before your very first iPod. Newer browsers and even newer versions of Internet Explorer have shown us how beautiful and immerse the web experience can be, but comparing these new browser experiences to IE6 is like comparing the Ford GT to the Ford Model T.

"What do you mean, I can't get those rounded edges and drop shadows in IE6? Why, I just saw it in Safari!"

Yes, the chasm between 2001's Internet Explorer 6 and 2009's Internet Explorer 8 (even 2006's Internet Explorer 7) hasn't stopped a vast corporate clientele from requesting tomorrow's features on yesterday's technology. Some of this work involves adjusting and adding to your CSS to account for the display inadequacies found in IE6, and some of this work gets crazy when IE6 offers numerous display and laying bugs, no true 24-bit png support, and not anything remotely CSS3. In any case, there are a few tools to make your life just a little easier.

IETester with Debugbar is an "all-in-two-in-one" solution for IE testing, because, face it, you're going to need to fix something in IE. IETester is free and gives you a web multi-browser that you can use to test pages against the rendering and javascript engines of IE6, IE7, and IE8 on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Debugbar boasts a DOM inspector, an HTTP inspector, and a Javascript Inspector with console much like Firebug or IE's developer tools, but it also requires you to buy a license within 60 days for about $85. That's pricey, but fair if the browser you have to support is IE6, and you can forward the cost to the client.

Drew Diller's javascript fix for 24-bit PNG support in IE6 is a miracle when it works, and it usually does. With it, you can use PNGs as the SRC of an image tag or as the background image property in CSS. Unlike the popular AlphaImageLoader, Drew's 24-bit PNG fix supports background-position and background-repeat. Plus he's a nice guy, seriously.

Drew Diller didn't stop there; he also has a javascript fix for rounded corners in IE6 and IE7, but not IE8 (I know, that seems backwards, right? Oh wait, we're talking about Internet Explorer). For reals though, you can get rounded edges, and they usually look really good. How, you ask? Web developers, take note of this answer; it comes in handy.


And don't Forget!

"Nothing works faster or stronger on muscle pain and headaches than Motrin® IB. Reach for genuine Motrin® IB at the first sign of discomfort, and get back in the game of..."

Cross-Browser Compatibility.

Liferay goes mobile

Company Blogs August 6, 2009 By Jonathan Neal

While at OSCON last month, I couldn't help but notice a lot of chatter between the booths about mobile devices, mobile browsing, and much adeu about how mobile was everywhere I would ever want to be, ever. So, this week I gave in, sipped on a little post-OSCON Kool-aid, and decided to find out what Liferay could do when it came to unlocking the power of my iPhone.

As smartphones continue to blend (or some might say impede) the space between dialing a number, taking a picture, or discovering new music, mobile browsers now offer us the next frontier in the previously desktop-exclusive market of web design. I don't count WAP either. We've come a long way from WAP and, man, I'm glad that never really took off. The world wide web doesn't need to support another IE6.

Well, now I would like to introduce to you three new iPhone themes freely available in our plugin repository; they are Jedi Mobile, iPhone, and iPhone Redirect.

Jedi Mobile   Jedi Mobile   Jedi Mobile

The Jedi Mobile theme takes the original Jedi theme and packs it into a bite-sized, smartphone punch. What you end up getting is something akin to my favorite mobile experiences at Facebook or Flickr, but with a moodier palette, oh, and the power to control the entire portal at your fingertips.

Jedi Mobile   Jedi Mobile   Jedi Mobile

The iPhone theme takes a much more direct approach to “web application”. With its indigenous appearance and feel, your website starts to feel like a playlist, your user experience appears native, and navigation comes naturally.

The iPhone theme also introduces a new browser detection mechanism for specialized mobile functionality. If you visit the site on an iPhone, you get the bare minimal javascript, html, and css. If you visit the site on a regular machine, you get all the more advanced UI features which will be quite necessary when administering the page; adding and moving portlets, and creating web content.

The iPhone Redirect theme takes the browser detection mechanism one step further; intelligent redirection. iPhone Redirect is an unstyled theme which comes with a custom initialization feature that can detect an iPhone browser visiting the page, check for a Mobile community, and, if found, automatically redirect the iPhone user to that community. And yes, it will work with a Virtual Host (eg: or a Friendly URL (eg: localhost/web/mobile).

Pretty neat, huh? I thought so too; and this is only the first step.

Be more awesome with a new favicon

Company Blogs July 31, 2009 By Jonathan Neal

UPDATE: Due to the positive response that this post has recieved in the first few minutes, and the Liferay portal will be adopting the new favicon I created in this tutorial.

In a continuing effort (read: plead) to see your websites looking awesome, today I would like to show you how to make and update the favicon of your website.

A little background; a favicon is the small, 16x16px picture appearing next to your site's URL or site bookmark. Much like the icons on your desktop, these little icons provide an instant visual connection to your website for your visitors. A favicon should be visually appealing, it should conform to your branding, and it should fit the overall website design. Whenever anyone sees your favicon - in their address bar, or in another tab, or in the bookmarks menu - there will be immediate user recognition, so you really want to make a great impression that really stands out.

various favicons

Now, I'm willing to bet many of you haven't put a whole lot of effort into your favicon, and, for one reason or another, you're still using the default Liferay favicon. Please raise your hand if the browser looks something like this when you visit your website:

the default liferay favicon

You can put your hand down,; we're actually going to update your icon in this tutorial. Since I'm running a local copy of Liferay, as we all do, I've deployed and selected the Tuxedo theme which uses the default Liferay favicon.

localhost with the default liferay favicon

Updating this favicon will be quick and easy, and I'll need just one tool, the free Windows icon editor, IcoFX.

As you saw earlier, I'm using the Liferay company logo as the favicon, but I'm not terribly thrilled with the current implementation, so I'm going to try something new. To do this I will open IcoFX and then drag a new picture of our company logo from my computer right into the IcoFX window.

the drag and drop

Right away I'll be prompted to choose the color depth and size of my icon. Favicons are 16x16, and all modern browsers support their 32-bit alpha-transparent super-sickliciousness.

the options

Almost there; all I need to do from here is save the file to the Tuxedo theme's images directory. I'll navigate to the webapps folder in my local copy of Liferay and then to the \tuxedo-theme\images\ directory. There I'll save and overwrite the existing liferay.ico file.

And that's it! Now I can refresh the page and see my change. Let's see a before and after:

localhost with the default liferay faviconlocalhost with the new liferay favicon]

I think that looks a lot better, what do you think?


Lose another five pounds off your URL in one line

Company Blogs July 30, 2009 By Jonathan Neal

In the spirit of blogging about useful Liferay configurations, I thought I would share with you another URL weight-loss secret, losing the :8080 on the end of your URL in Liferay. When you're done reading, you'll know how to turn http://localhost:8080/ into http://localhost/.

So, Jon, why does Liferay run on port 8080?

Well, dear reader, long ago in the early days of the internet the world wide web was being formed in the womb of giant UNIX servers, and websites were hosted from these machines through port 80, just as they are now. However, these UNIX servers held to a belief that the first thousand-something ports on any machine were very sacred, and that these ports should only be accessible to the user known as root, who was the greatest user of them all. So, when regular ol' Joe Bloggs needed a port to run his first web site but didn't have root's privileges, he took the inspiration of port 80 and the necessity of a port greater than 1023 and came up with port 8080. I suppose that Liferay continues this tradition in the same way that American's attempt to blow up the sky on Independence Day, supposing that just in case the computer can't use port 80 or the British should attack by rockets red glare, we're totally prepared.

But Jon, when I switch to port 80 won't I just have to write http://localhost:80/?

No, dear reader, because all web browsers already assume you're on port 80, because all the major websites that you visit daily, like,, and all run on port 80, thus removing the need to ever specify the port at all.

Okay Jon, I'm ready. How do I switch my Liferay portal to port 80?

Simple, dear reader, open up the tomcat folder that holds your local copy of Liferay; just make sure that Liferay isn't actually running when you do this. Inside the conf directory there's an XML file called server.xml; open it.

Search for the line that reads: Connector port="8080" protocol="HTTP/1.1"

Change 8080 to 80 so that it reads: Connector port="80" protocol="HTTP/1.1"

Save the file and start Liferay, then go to http://localhost/ because that's it; you've done it!

Wow Jon, that was easy, so, will Liferay ever run like this out of the box?

For that answer, dear reader, I would check the comment section below. There I am sure you will find an answer which doesn't compare Liferay with the colonial revolution.

Lose ten pounds off your URL

Company Blogs July 30, 2009 By Jonathan Neal

UPDATE: I've added a 1 minute demonstration of this entire tutorial at the bottom of this blog.

There's a lot under the hood when it comes to Liferay, and even that is an understatement, but in my opinion there's one very useful feature that never gets enough play; virtual hosting.  In Liferay, virtual hosting is a free, out-of-the-box feature used to host more than one domain name on the same IP address, like running,, and all running on one copy of Liferay.  Cool, right?  So, let me show you how to set up virtual hosting on your machine, because it should only take 5 minutes.

First, setup your machine to force some domain names redirect to your local copy of Liferay.  This step involves editing the hosts file on your machine, and it is only for testing purposes, so it won't actually change the way anyone else in the world sees these domains.

To do this in Windows, go to the %WINDIR%\System32\drivers\etc directory and open the hosts file in Notepad.  To do this in Mac OS, go to the /etc directory and open the hosts file in TextEdit.  If you're running Linux, well, you should already know how to do this.  Once the file is opened, add the following entry on a new line:

Next, startup Liferay and test the new domain.  Visiting http://localhost:8080/ should redirect you to http://localhost:8080/web/guest/ and you should see your local copy of Liferay.

Much the same, visiting should redirect you to, just like localhost.

Now it's time to map a new community to  The first step is to add a new community, so go to the Control Panel, and from there go to the Portal > Communities page.  At the top you'll see an Add button, click it and add a new community named Alpha.

Once the Alpha community has been created the second step is to go to Manage Pages by clicking the Actions button and selecting Manage Pages.  You'll need to add at least one page to your new community, so add a new page named Home.  Once this is done, click on the Settings tab.  In settings, click on the Virtual Host tab and you will see an empty field labeled Public Virtual Host.  Add the domain here and click Save.

Now if you visit and you should see the Alpha community, without any pesky /web/guest in the URL.

That's it!  Now you're using virtual hosting on your machine, and your website just lost ten pounds.

And for the truly visual, I've made a video highlighting the entire process in just one minute and in one continuous shot.


P.S: If you didn't notice, you can map any number of domains and even sub-domains ( to your site, but as far as I can tell Liferay does not yet support multiple domain mapping on the same community or wildcards, which means I'll be bugging our developers for the next few weeks.

My JavaOne Video Blog Part 2 of 5

Company Blogs June 8, 2009 By Jonathan Neal

DISCLAIMER: The following program is still a personal video detail and should not be construed as an endorsement of any products, services, or websites or as an indication of the value of any claims, recommendations or other information. The actions and opinions expressed by Jon Neal and "The Jon Neal Blog, JavaOne" JavaOne blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the actions or opinions of Liferay Inc or their affiliates. The internet is serious business.

My JavaOne Video Blog Part 1 of 5

Company Blogs June 5, 2009 By Jonathan Neal

DISCLAIMER: The following program is a personal video detail and should not be construed as an endorsement of any products, services, or websites or as an indication of the value of any claims, recommendations or other information. The actions and opinions expressed by Jon Neal and "The Jon Neal Blog, JavaOne" JavaOne blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the actions or opinions of Liferay Inc or their affiliates. The internet is serious business.

jQuery Jamboree

Company Blogs February 13, 2008 By Jonathan Neal

Oh to be young again...

Hold on, I am young - young, healthy, well, mostly healthy, and ready to take on the world!  So, what better way to take on the computer world than take on the king of the computer mountaintop, Bill Gates, wait, no Google, hmm, um ... Liferay? jQuery!  jQuery is a lightweight JavaScript library that emphasizes interaction between JavaScript and HTML, allowing you to easily include many components that enrich and benefit the developer's coding experience.  It's killer cool and we use it pretty exclusively in the Liferay product.  That's why I'm proud to announce the contribution of 2, two, dos jQuery plugins to the Plugin repository!  So, without further adieu, meet:

jQuery Sifr Plugin

Straight from the exciting adventures of coding challenges with Brian Cheung, this jQuery Sifr Plugin lets you dynamically replace text in a page with CSS-styled Scalable Inman Flash Replacement (sIFR) text using native jQuery functionality, along with the jQuery Flash plugin. Whoa, that sounds like a lot, but it's pretty awesome and easy to use once you see it here.

jQuery Browser Plugin

And in this corner, reigning from the inspiring wisdom of our own Nate Cavanaugh, this jQuery Browser Plugin lets you extend browser detection capabilities and implements CSS browser selectors in jQuery.  Most importantly, this means you can oh-so-easily customize or unify the look and feel of your website for individuals browsers.  It's pretty groovy stuff, and you see it and learn more about it here.

So there you have it.  Please feel free to comment or email me all of your bugs, complaints, and top reasons why you feel these plugins are completely inferior or unnecessary.


Company Blogs February 12, 2008 By Jonathan Neal

Milli Vanilli Theme Making

Company Blogs February 6, 2008 By Jonathan Neal

What is Milli Vanilli theme making?

According to Jonathan Neal's Alliterated Dictionary of Natural Selection it is "The act or process of designing admirable and successful graphical interfaces for the Liferay product with an infamous, immediate and inevitable revelation of un-originality brought upon the user".  In short, this means that these are fully functional themes for the Liferay product, ...


Google Personal


"I'm Feeling Liferay!"

Known in the hood as elGoogle (say it), the distinctive feel of a Google Personalized Homepage is a perfect match to the similar functionality found in the Liferay product.  Many binary scholars have argued that Liferay's portlet arranging interface is light years ahead of big G, albeit a tad struck with divitis.




"Steve Jobs, Ron Paul, and Lolcats sold separately."

Do you ever feel like you're "tha man", but you're also secretly "the man"?  Well, have we got a theme for you!  As defined by Jonathan Neal's Alliterated Dictionary of Natural Selection, this theme is guaranteed to "fulfill your grandest and greatest aspirations of an authentic grassroots action."




"We're sorry Mario, but the Princess is in another portlet."

Nothing is better than smashing disfigured fungus, collecting airborne monetary, and picking up flower power ups by kicking turtle shells into radiating boxes, except for having in website form, with sounds.  Did you hear that?  You will, because it has sounds.  I kid you not.  I know.  You're looking for the download.  I know.  Calm down.  Listen.  No.  No, I know your wiimote isn't doing anything, I know.  Listen, you're hyperventilating.  It's okay.  We're here for you.




"Now with less rootkit!"

Just when you thought every fanboy had been covered, I went and made a Sony theme.  If I wasn't writing html, I'd be mixing fat beats in ACID, and editing my own show in VEGAS.


Now, these are all real themes, and you should be able to easily find them in your plug-ins repository, that is, once I've beat our legal department in a single elimination game of handball.

My Liferay

Company Blogs January 24, 2008 By Jonathan Neal

My Liferay. Part 1. Handball Haiku.

the liferay weather,
it's showering handball games,
small ball, big ball, fun.

My Liferay. Part 2. A Plural People.

Here at Liferay I'm thunderstruck by the rich, thoroughgoing cultural diversities that make up my daily work enviroment.

My coworkers, along with myself, form an intense, immense abundance of experiences, knowledge, and unique perspectives that are positively met together each and every day as we create and improve the Liferay product.


MySpace by Liferay

Company Blogs January 3, 2008 By Jonathan Neal

From the makers of the world's leading enterprise open source portal framework, Liferay is proud to introduce MySpace by Liferay, a Google Gadget, part of Liferay's growing implementation and support of the Google Gadget platform. MySpace by Liferay lets you quickly check your most important MySpace alerts through iGoogle, the Google personalized homepage. MySpace by Liferay was developed on our very own iGoogle WEB IDE, and the Google Gadgets API is publicm allowing anyone to develop a gadget for any need. With this technology, Myspace, the world's sixth most popular website can now be brought to your existing Google homepage.

Click here to add our gadget your homepage now, and you can vote for us at by clicking here.

Go Go Gadget Google

Company Blogs December 13, 2007 By Jonathan Neal

[Comic Strip]

That's right, Liferay, the world's leading enterprise open source portal framework with Fortune 500 clients in the U.S. and Europe, has developed a new super easy tool that helps you write your own iGoogle Gadgets, with a real-time preview! Nifty, huh? Your friends and loved ones will watch in awe as you create whole collections of new customizable high-grade groovy gadgets before their very wondering eyes with the slightest of ease. And that's not all, there are NO refreshes, NO extra rendering times, no obligation, and no salesmen will visit you ... wait, no salesmen will ... huh, this is starting to sound, familiar ...

Sally Struthers

So check it out, if you haven't already!

10 Reasons to Switch Forward, Back to ICQ

Company Blogs December 6, 2007 By Jonathan Neal

In the U.S they use AIM, in Europe they use MSN, but the true and rightful King of the Instant Messaging world is still, without a doubt, ICQ. ICQ (a cleverly pronounced oronym of "I Seek You") was first released in November of 1996 by Mirabilis, and from it's downloadable birth contained some of the most outstanding features still unrealized in the 'modern' IM world.

1. Offline Messaging Support

It's taken nearly 10 years to bring offline messaging to the non-ICQ world. In ICQ, it didn't matter if you weren't logged in with your buddies at the same time, the messages you sent waited patiently at their doorstep for their return. When Kim, my first nerd crush, moved to Florida we began a month long binge of "Yo Mamma" jokes , and there was just something special about signing in, hearing a ship horn, a child shout, and then reading "Yo Momma so fat she needs 2 IP addresses. Looks like we missed each other again."

2. Fully Indexed & Searchable History

Pidgin, you say? Yes, Pidgin is a great instant messaging tool by AOL, oh wait, awww. AOL writes the client, runs the network, but can't even figure out how to write a text file automatically. ICQ could search across conversations, and supposedly even search across users later on. But I won't give ICQ credit for what they do now, all of the forementioned could be done while I was still wearing cordoroy slacks. Yea, that was in the 90's, you jerk.

3. File Transfers that Always Worked

They had resume too! File transfers have always been problematic for AIM, and not just between differing clients. When AIM's popularity really took flight they switched protocols, randomly stranding and stalemating users from the second most important messaging feature, after, you know, messaging. You see, in the world of 56k, trading WAD files was serious business, and usually required at least two resumes since my telephonic connection cut out every hour or so. You do the math, I fought Barney and Spider Monkeys to the sounds of Bruce Campbell.

4. Chat so Live It Came Letter By Letter

In ICQ, you could switch any conversation into a mode that made your conversations appear character per character, versus paragraph per paragraph. This. Changed. Everything. You could interupt someone before they typed out a long list of useless information (or a blog about ICQ). Once again grammar meant something, and I wasn't forced to express all of my emotions with trailing dots and incomplete math formulas... *sigh* :(

5. Visionary Social Networking and Fully Searchable Directory

What's the difference between Facebook and 10 years ago? Ten years ago it could chat too, and they called it ICQ! I could find old friends with only the knowledge of random details like their general age, sex, and location. No one needed to be online for me to find them, and thanks to Offline Messaging, no one needed to be online for me contact them. It was like Facebook, MySpace, and AIM, except no one was telling me that if I swat the bee, shot the hoop, or kissed the movie star, I was the proud owner of two new iPod Nanos.

6. True Invisible Mode

Except it actually worked and wasn't easily circumvented.

7. The Paint Board

You could open a window, paste in nearly anything from the clipboard, scribble and draw pictures, insert text, almost like it was some kind of wacky network hacked version of Photoshop.

8. Total Profile Customization

This is my first name, my last name, my location, my old location from then to then, the schools i went to and when and what i did there, and if you're a stalker here's everything you need to know. Freaking awesome, and not just for stalkers either. Oh, and ... "This was the filesize limit of an AIM avatar in 2007. Beep, beep, beep. What was ... 7kb!" In 1997, however, ICQ let you use nearly any image because they didn't hold onto the images over the network. Not too much later down the road they added the ability to hold those images on their servers too (did i mention something about a searchable directory?).

9. Total Alert Customization

I'll never forget the british accent I used to record "Amanda is quite online", and how easy it was to assign any sound to each and every person, while letting me set default sounds for strangers and less important people with the same ease. So easy to use, no wonder ... it was bought out by #1 and shelfed.

10. Forward Thinking Plugin Support

Netmeeting totally blew my family away. The entire effect of simply "send to jake, now see jake" thrilled and terrified my parents. ICQ could incorporate new, non-out-of-the-box plugins into the client that let you start video conferences, audio conferences, gaming 'conferences', and whatever else you could think of. Not only that, but if your computer was in need of additional software, the message included an embedded download link, similar to how object tags in HTML work. It was actually easier for me to install software through ICQ than searching the pre-google-ific internet.

I'll end with this, ICQ is on imdb and AIM isn't, so there! :P

I Am Joe Bloggs

Company Blogs December 5, 2007 By Jonathan Neal

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