Fernando Apesteguía: Álvaro, tell us about your background, your work, what do you do in your free time.
Álvaro: I'm currently working for a software development company , but I'm not very happy, I'm searching for better opportunities :). In my little free time, I'm still developing and learning with my computer. These days, apart from AMSN, I'm developing some webs for mobile devices and dealing with a Nokia 770 that has been just given to me. Other of my hobbies are the motor world and karting.
FA: How did AMSN begin?
A: 5 years ago, in my second year at university, I already used Linux for all my tasks, but I needed to communicate with my partners with MSN Messenger to develop a project. In those days Gaim was the instant messaging tool par excellence, but I wasn't completely sure about it.
Making a search, I found a tcl/tk based program named ccmsn (Compu's Messenger), which was an MSN Messenger clone for Windows , rather simple, and I started to use it. While I used it I learnt a bit of tcl/tk and I worked to fix bugs and to add new features.
I sent the modifications to the program's author to be included on it, but he never answered and we have no news about him from then. So I published the modified program in a web site (I included the source code, of course, that in this case it is the program itself since it is interpreted). I renamed it "Alvaro's Messenger" (AMSN), a tribute to the original Compu's Messenger (Compu is the nick name of the author).
The program collected quite success, and soon other people that had written modifications for ccmsn got in contact with me to join our efforts. We registered the project at SourceForge, and we continued the development from there.
FA: How many people is involved in the project?
A: Officially, there are 19 registered developers in the project, at Sourceforge. The fact is that some of them are inactive (nowadays I spend not much time on it), but several others help us by means of mail lists, forums, patches, etc. And all this not counting the translators for more than 40 available languages.
FA: Which development model do you use and how long do you take for a new release?
A: We don't use any specific model. We can say that everything is based on reliability and merits. Developers have full access to CVS (version control) to modify code at their own. Changes are viewed by others in the mail list to verify that everything is ok.
Some veteran developers perform organization and task assignment functions, but it is not mandatory. Nobody pays for our work, so we do it to learn and to fulfill. If it is not funny, it makes no sense to do it :).
We also provide a Wiki to document some parts of the project, trackers for bugs, tasks, etc and an automatic bug delivery system when an error occurs while running the application.
About versions, we have no fixed periods. When we start a new version, we add new features. There is a moment when this creative brainstorming comes to a standstill. Then it is the moment to fix unresolved bugs. When we estimate the new version is stable enough, we prepare it and it is released.
We have suggested several times to keep a "stable" branch to release versions more often to fix bugs or to add little features, and other "unstable" branch to make the major changes. However it is a complication. In general, we recommend to use the CVS version (development version updated every day) because this is the version that developers use day by day. So it is rather stable and it incorporates the latest features. If an important problem happens it is usually fixed very fast.
- "Interview with Alvaro J. Iradier, 1/2"
- "Interview with Alvaro J. Iradier, 2/2"