Pidgin users have a lot of things to be happy about with the release of the 2.6.0 version of their favorite instant messaging application, announced this morning by John Bailey. Thanks to the hard work of developers and contributors, the new release has a plethora of new features, about 221 bug fixes, all listed in a changelog so big that it makes you think about Christmas wish lists.
For the video and audio part we have Mike Ruprecht to thank, who started to implement these features back in 2008, in a Google Summer of Code project, so it was a lot of work to get this far. For now, support for these functions is available only for XMPP, but the developers are working to bring at least partial support to the other protocols that Pidgin uses.
Another Summer of Code project that only now reached maturity was led by Justin Rodriguez, who worked on adding theme support for libpurple and Pidgin. So, from now on, you will be able to theme your buddy list, the status icons or the sound scheme.
Yahoo users have a lot to be happy about, especially if they're on the Japanese part of the network. Support for Yahoo Japan has been moved into a separate plugin, so from now on you can be logged in both parts of the network with the same id. Also, SMS support is available in this version, along with peer-to-peer file transfer support to fix all those pesky problems that Pidgin had when moving large files over Yahoo. Moreover, it's now possible to add MSN buddies, but that feature won't reach prime-time until Pidgin 3.0.0. For all of these we have Sulabh Mahajan to thank, another Summer of Code student from 2008.
Don't think that XMPP voice and video support is all that users of this instant messaging protocol will get. On top of that, buddy icon support (avatar) support is here, along with a service discovery browser plugin, custom smiley support, "buzzing" capabilities, idle time reporting, an alternative method for file transfers and, of course, many other bug fixes and enhancements.
Finch, Pidgin's text-mode counterpart, received some attention too. It now has a TinyURL plugin for URL shortening and some important bugfixes.
Update: We've discovered a few minutes ago that Pidgin 2.6.1 is available. This release fixes a crash when some users send you a link in a Yahoo IM and some compilation problems on Windows or when the installed GTK+ version was less than 2.6.0.
Download Pidgin 2.6.1 right now from Softpedia.