What is Trillian?
Trillian is a multiprotocol instant messaging application for Windows created by Cerulean Studios that can connect to multiple IM programs from one client, such as AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, IRC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, Bonjour, Jabber, and Skype networks (the latter four with Trillian Pro which allows for additonal plugins).
There are currently two types of Trillian available, the original and free Trillian Basic 3 and the commercial Trillian Pro 3. Initially released July 1, 2000 as a freeware IRC client, the first commercial version (Trillian Pro 1.0) was published on September 10, 2002. An upcoming product, called Trillian Astra, was announced recently by Cerulean Studios in their official blog.
Connection to multiple IM services
Trillian connects to multiple instant messenging services without the need of running multiple clients. Users can create multiple connections to the same service, and can also group connections under separate identities to prevent confusion. All contacts are gathered under the same contact list. Contacts are not bound to its own IM service group, and can be dragged and dropped freely.
Trillian represents each client with a different-colored sphere (see right). Prior versions used the corporate logos for each service, but these were removed to avoid copyright issues, although some skins still use the original icons for the mediums. The decision of colors were compared to subway lines in London Underground by the designer of Trillian.
To eliminate duplicates and simplify the structure of the contact list, users of Trillian Pro can 'bundle' multiple contacts of the same person into one entry in the contact list, using the Metacontact feature. Subcontacts will appear under the metacontact as small icons aligned in a manner of a tree.
Trillian Basic and Pro both come with Activity History, and both log the history as both plain text files and as XML-files. Pro has a History Manager which shows the chat history and allows the user to add bookmarks for revision later on. XML-based history makes the log easy to manipulate, searchable and extendable for future functions.
Starting with version 3.0 in both the Basic and Pro suites, Trillian makes use of the English version of the Wikipedia free online encyclopedia for real-time referencing using its database of free knowledge. The feature is employed directly within a conversation window of a user. When one or more words are entered (by either user), Trillian checks all words against a database file and if a match is found, the word appears with a dotted green underline. When the user points their mouse over the word, the corresponding article is downloaded from Wikipedia and displayed on screen as a tooltip. When the user clicks on the underlined word, they are given the choice to visit the article online.
EmotiblipsT are the video equivalent of an emoticon. During video sessions, the user may stream a song or video to the other user in real time. One can send MP3s, WAVs, WMVs, and MPGs with this feature. QuickTime MOV files as Emotiblips are not currently supported.
Skins and Interfaces
Trillian has its own unique skinning engine known as SkinXML. Many skins have been developed for Trillian and they can be downloaded from the official skins gallery or deviantArt.
Trillian also came with an easier skinning language, Stixe, which is essentially a set of XML Entities that simplifies repetitive codes and allows skinners to share XML and graphics in the form of emoticon packs, sound packs and interfaces.
The default skins of Trillian are designed by designHazard. Trillian Cordillera was used in Trillian 0.7x, while Trillian Whistler has been the default skin for Trillian since Pro 1.0. Cosmetic changes were noticeable in each major release.
Trillian is a closed-source application, but the Pro version can be extended by plugins. Plugins by Cerulean Studios itself include spell-check, weather updater, a mini-browser (for viewing AIM profiles), e-mail checker, Winamp song title scroller, stock exchange monitor, and RSS feedreader, as well as a plugin for the Jabber and Bonjour networks. Others have developed various plugins, such as a games plugin which can be used to play chess and checkers, a protocol plugin to send NetBIOS messages through Trillian, a plugin to interact with Lotus Sametime clients, a plugin to interact with Microsoft Exchange, a POP3 and IMAP email checker, or an automatic translator for many European languages to and from English. There is a plugin to interact with Skype, SkyLlian, but it needs Skype to be installed in order to be used.