Web 2.0 has given rise to plenty of useful social networking sites and communications tools, but it has also cluttered screens with extra browser windows and software clients. Digsby condenses all your instant-messaging, e-mail, Facebook, and MySpace accounts into a single window. Not only does this software have a negligible learning curve, but it also looks seriously sleek with its Google Talk-like interface.
Setting up Digsby
Downloading the relatively large 15.8MB file from Digsby's Web site took 3 minutes over our Wi-Fi connection. The installation process was straightforward; since Digsby was in a closed beta during our testing, we were required to provide an invite code before creating a username and password. This code will no longer be necessary, however, when Digsby goes into public beta testing within the next couple of weeks. (The company says it will launch publicly in the next few months.) We appreciated that Digsby prompts the user to adjust the launch preferences after installation.
A Customizable Chat Client
A white window with Digsby's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-looking logo is the portal into the service. When we first logged in, Digsby prompted us to add our instant messaging usernames and passwords; we typed in our AIM, Google Talk, and Yahoo information and were immediately logged into each of the respective services. Digsby currently supports AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, and Yahoo instant messaging services.
All of your contacts appear on a single buddy list, which has a Google Talk look and feel but can be customized with different skins. Green or red bubbles appear next to each name to indicate status and the chat client they're using. You can also reorganize the layout by placing social networks and e-mail accounts above or below IM contacts. In addition, if one of your contacts has more than one IM account, you can merge both of their handles into a single contact entry.
Easy to Use But Lacking Some Features
Like flipping between tabs in a Web browser, you can simply toggle among conversations by hitting Ctrl+Tab. An interactive pop-up notification for new IMs conveniently displays the message in a translucent box in the lower right-hand corner of your screen (you can disable this at any time, though). While the ability to send files and e-mails to your contacts are neat additions, we would have liked to see the capability to hold group chats, share photos (without having to send them), and participate in video calls with Digsby.
E-mail and Social Networking Support
Digsby doesn't just consolidate your instant messages into one window; it lets you view your recent e-mail messages right from the client. Compatible with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, and POP and IMAP e-mail servers, a small widget displays your most recent messages. The widget lets you see the first few lines of the e-mail; clicking Open Message launches your browser to view the rest of the message.
Beyond e-mail, Digsby also supports Facebook and MySpace accounts. After logging into your social network account through Digsby, you can view your latest messages, notifications, events, and wall posts made to your profile or your friends' profiles. Clicking a specific notification will launch the full page in a browser. The integration doesn't eliminate the need to log in to your favorite social sites, but it does cut down on having to refresh your page constantly to see what's happening. Although Digsby is limited to Facebook and MySpace, the company has hinted at adding support for sites like LinkedIn and others popular networking sites in the future.
While programs such as Meebo and Trillian both enable users to combine multiple instant messaging services in one client, Digsby goes further by integrating many instant messaging clients into a clean interface and incorporating social networking sites and e-mail clients. Despite its lack of Linux and Mac support thus far (visit www.digsby.com/maclinux.php to receive notification when this changes) and its temporarily closed beta status, Digsby is a boon for messaging productivity.