Yahoo! Web Messenger Features
A little bit of History
Web (browser) based Instant Messaging (IM) is becoming one of the "must haves" over the last couple of years, this has really been pushed to the forefront as ppl strive to get IM access at work, school, libraries, cafes etc, basically any location where installation of programs has been restricted. It's also a great option for IM'ers who need quick and simple IM access without the hassle of downloads, installation, configuration and meeting the minimum system requirements for the desktop clients.
The major IM players have had web based applications for quite some time, Microsoft has MSN WebMessenger, there is ICQ2Go, AIM Express, Google has Gtalk built into it's web based email and Yahoo! has limped along with their Java based web messenger, then we saw a new breed of web based IM's come into the market. Meebo lead the charge with their ajax version (see our Meebo article) and it's by far the most talked about, and one would assume, most popular web based Instant Messenger currently in use at the moment. Instan-t Express doesn't have the same following as the other web based players but it's pushing the boundaries of what's possible as it supports voice and video chat over most of the major networks (Yahoo!, MSN, AIM etc) and all from your browser window. Basically Yahoo's web based messenger was gasping it's last breath... that is until yesterday (3 May 07) when Yahoo! released their new Messenger for the Web.
At the beta release of the new Yahoo! Messenger for the Web you can still dig up Yahoo's "old" web based messenger, which at the time of it's release I'm sure it was impressive (I don't actually remember that myself *blush*) but it did/does have the basics that one needs to IM with their friends e.g. formatting, smileys, profile access, add friends, chat and limited status options.
The help pages are still available for those who need a hand with the old faithful IM but before you decide to stick with what you know you should seriously check out the new Yahoo! Messenger for the Web.
Yahoo! have grabbed the domain http://web.im, which is a stroke of pure genius! .im is a top level (Country) domain for the Isle of Man so whoever came up with the idea to run with http://web.im should be shouted coffee every morning for an entire year cause who could ask for a better domain name than that one... it's quick to type and easy to remember... perfect! For those who do like to take the long road though you can access exactly the same web messenger via http://webmessenger.yahoo.com so bookmark or type away at either for the same end result.
If you're into tabbed browsing then you will greatly appreciate the icon that the web based version uses, it makes your web based IM conversations a breeze to quickly identify and locate
and the fact that the tabbed browser title (and task bar button, which also displayes the IM content on mouseover) scrolls the user and text on all new incoming messages... another gem of an idea :)
Scrolling text aside, once inside the active web messenger browser tab / window, it is easy to identify which IM's are new due to the fact they have different colour...
Adobe Flash (you need to have Adobe Flash v9)
Supported browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox (Windows and Mac), Opera, Netscape or Safari
Popup blocker disabled or Yahoo! Messenger for Web added to the allow list
We have the ability to login as "invisible" if we so desire and once signed in we can select from
- Stepped Out
- Be Right Back
- Not At My Desk
- On the Phone
or we can create our own custom status messages.
As per the desktop version,
the last 5 custom status messages are stored for us but only for that particular session, if you logout and log back in again at a later stage then you will start with a clean custom status list. You can also select if you want your custom status to reflect Available or Busy.
Speaking of Status...
At this stage, when accessing my Yahoo! Messenger friends from the web version, my friends categories / groups fail to display how many from each group are currently online, unlike the desktop version which reflects this accurately.
Then I worked out that it shows ppl on your list in general, if you want to see the number of ppl who are actually "online" you need to head to the bottom of your friends list, click on View, then select Show Online Contacts Only.
where would we be without them? thankfully we don't have to go there as Yahoo! Messenger for Web has one built in
Stealth Settings and Ignore / Block
If at any stage you have a problem user don't hesitate to use the Yahoo! Web Messenger Abuse form for all others just throught your ignore / block feature into action. If you need to manage your ignore list e.g remove a user currently on your ignore list, you'll have to do this via the Yahoo! Messenger desktop version, it can't actually be done through the web version... although you can block them via the web version... Stealth settings can't be applied while in the web version either.. once more you will need to do this via your desktop version... and avatars seem to be the same way... hmmm...
Avatars are supported both in the IM windows and in the Archives, be it a Yahoo! Avatar or a personal image which is a nice touch as it makes identifying your friends a breeze. WLM users are identified by their email address which is clearly visible at the top of their IM tab, WLM display images aren't supported though (but neither are they in the Yahoo! Messenger desktop client) the avatar that is in their tab displayed are default guy / girl combination. If you need to update or change your avatar you will need to do this via the desktop version of Yahoo! Messenger as it's not currently a feature with the web version.
Adding, renaming, moving Friends
Adding friends is simply, both for Windows Messenger Live users and Yahoo! users.
Head to the bottom of your friends list
click on the Add button
select the appropriate network
then just follow through the prompts
If someone sends you an add request you can Deny or Accept, if accepting, simply click the down arrow to put them in one of your existing groups, or you can create another group on the fly.
The menu avaiable to the right of each friend holds a wealth of information, from that you can send an IM, view your archived conversations with them, Move, Rename and Delete...
one thing I did feel was missing was a Profile link.. but I'm sure I can live without it ;)
Online Archives / History
One of the great features of Yahoo! Messenger for the Web is that it stores your archives online, this means you can access your history from any computer, anywhere at any time. You need to be aware that it only stores your chat history from conversations held over the web version, if you use the downloadable version of Yahoo! Messenger your archives will still be stored on the computer from which your access originated. Personally it would be drop dead handy if we could download our web based history and merge it with our desktop client history... but I'm kinda guessing that wont happen soon, we can't have everything we want now can we ;)
Formatting, active links (urls) and smileys aren't available in the web based history, I'm really hoping this will change as the beta version evolves. Active links would be a big help, if you do need to grab a url from your archive you will find that highlight and ctrl+c wont work, so just highlight, right click and select copy, then paste into your address bar. I do understand that we can't have oodles of the new flash smileys in our archives but I do think we could at least have first frame static ones to give a slight hint when the keycombinations doesn't ring a bell *blush*
Another point to note, at this stage the web version doesn't archive your conversations to or from Windows Live Messenger (WLM) users / friends.
Enable / Disable
In the web version you will also find that Message History is enabled by default, if you wish to disable this:
click on History (under Yahoo! Web Search)
from the My History tab, click on Options (far right)
from Message History Options,
uncheck Enable Message History,
If you need to delete an archived conversation,
select My History
select the conversation from your archive list
and click Delete
So what about the Smileys?
Sometimes sounds are kind of annoying (or will get you in trouble with your boss ;) but there is super quick, one click access, to instantly disabling / enabling sounds in the web version, simply click on the speaker icon at the top of your browser window (directly below Yahoo! Web Search).
All our Yahoo! Smileys are now Flash files, it seems to be sign of bigger things to come.. and yes there is a new smiley... actually there are two.. sssshhhh ;)