Trillian Astra Alpha: Performance and the attitude towards Skype

Being part of the alpha testing crowd and having access to the all new Trillian Astra, I’d like to spend some words on this already quite mature version (build 66) of the once extremely popular instant messenger. I personally have been using Trillian since the very early v0.71 back in 2002. However, since my migration to Vista pretty much 12 months ago, I almost completely abandoned Trillian (v3.1 Pro) in favour of Skype for different reasons.

Almost all of my friends are also on Skype and I needed it for telephony anyway. Spend some time abroad and you know that need… 😉
Additionally, Skype features filetransfers that actually work anywhere (unlike ICQ and others)! Finally, the sophisticated mood messaging facility is really a nice thing to give your buddies a hint where you’re at and what you’re doing.

In fact, now that I’ve been playing around with the new Trillian for some time, and reporting a number of bugs (alpha testers only), I’d like to give a short summary especially with regards to performance and a possible Skype integration. There are quite a number of short intros to Astra already out there in the blogosphere – so I won’t bother you with the very basics… 😉

Trillian Astra Alpha vs. Skype v3.6The guys at the Studios mention the “Performance” as one of the key improvements to Trillian v3.1. And I have to say, that already in this alpha version they managed to keep their word. I’m running Astra on a 2 year old single core Pentium M running Vista w/ Aero. The new Astra is extremely reactive though looking deliciously fancy (transparency effects everywhere…)! I still can’t believe the numbers as well: running for the same time as an instance of Skype (v3.6), Trillian consumes about one third of the memory consumed by Skype (Trillian: ~10 MB, Skype: ~30 MB).
Moreover, the CPU time at similar usage of both of the messengers is also in favour of Trillian since it only uses less than half of the CPU time as Skype. And you need to keep in mind, that Trillian manages three IM services for me (ICQ, MSN and Yahoo) whereas Skype only goes for itself… 😛

But in a way the point of this post is a different one: Astra looks extremely promising to me. It’s also a good thing that the basic concept (multi-IM with great look) remained almost unchanged since the old versions with a zero-dot-X version more than five years ago. But thing is though: There is one more major player in the field of instant messaging compared to 5 years ago, who has more than 10.000.000 active users and was bought for more than 3.3 billion US-$ some time ago.

I simply can’t believe how insistently people in official forums and even the Studios’ Bugzilla try to point people to Skyllian. This plugin has been catastrophic since its very early versions. The plugin is more than poorly supported and its usability is near absolute zero! Everybody recommending this poor piece of software can only be out of his mind or never even tried to access the plugin’s site which has been poorly accessible all over the time…

But it can’t be too difficult to grab the Skype API from and build an official plugin that is actually working, can it? Are you an Astra alpha tester? Then vote for this in Bugzilla at bug #4572 and drop a line, please…

In my opinion, it is a massive mistake trying to ignore Skype from the Trillian point of view. You guys at Cerulean have the chance to build the first messenger alternative to the original Skype that is actually working. So, please go for it as part of the otherwise tremendously nice Astra! 😉

P.S.: Check out my “Trillian Mini”:

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3 thoughts on “Trillian Astra Alpha: Performance and the attitude towards Skype

  1. DiamondNRG


    I have to partially agree with your article in regards to the fact that CS needs to find a way to make Skype work.

    Unfortunately you do not seem to understand that the API is for controlling the client, not interacting with the server. This means that all CS could do is write their own “SkyLlian”.

    I am the administrator of SkyLlian, although the developer has long since abandoned it and I do not have access to the plugin’s source code. However, I have talked several people through the process of getting it working on Vista/Astra, as it is possible and it does work.

    I really dislike the tone you use towards the SkyLlian project, it was designed for 3.1 and was the best that ANYONE had ever done at the time.

    But like you said, if people want better, they need to make it themselves.

  2. eCommerce Consulting

    Thanks for the review Torben, I myself am looking for a messenger client that can communicate across a variety of platforms including skype, and just like you mention everyone and their mother seems to point to SkyLlian plugin although it does not solve the specific need. It’s surprising that doing a search for it, all the results are from 05 and 06 talking about SkyLlian but there hasn’t been any developments since then.

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