Avatars (contact pictures) are a popular feature of modern instant messaging protocols. An avatar is a usually small picture the user can choose and associate with his profile. Other users will be able to view this picture in certain locations such on the contact list or the message window.
It is believed that avatars help users to recognize their online contacts, because a picture can be easier to remember and recognize than the sometimes cryptic user names. Many people are using avatars to express their current mood, because IM protocols allow their users to change the picture at any time. Often, avatars are used to indicate certain personal preferences like a favorite band, actress or other celebrity.
Miranda NG supports avatars for almost all its default protocols by core plugin AVS.
Avatar support in TabSRMM
TabSRMM supports contact pictures with 2 configurable picture display areas in the message window, so depending on the configuration, it can either show only the contacts picture or both the contacts and your own picture. For this purpose, it has two picture displays:
- the bottom display area which is located in the lower right corner of the message window, next to the message input area. This display will show the contacts avatar when the upper picture display is not available (info panel disabled). When the upper display is available, the lower picture area will show your own contact picture (if you have configured one for the current protocol).
- the upper picture display, which is integrated in the info panel, will show up in the top right corner of the message window. This display is only available when the info panel is visible in the message window. The upper display will always show the contacts avatar and cannot be used to show your own.
To show avatars in the message window, the following conditions must be met:
- The avatar service and image service plugins must be installed. Both are core plugins and should therefore be always available.
- You must configure TabSRMM to display contact pictures. This can be done in the container options.
- If you want to see both pictures (the contacts avatar and your own), the info panel must be visible.
Managing the size of the pictures in the message window
The size of the picture display area is determined by the position of the splitter (the area which divides the message window into history and message input area and usually holds the toolbar). When you drag the splitter up, the picture area will grow – consequently, it will shrink when you drag the splitter down. There are a few regulations and options which you should know (remember, the options are on the general settings page).
- Max height – this is the maximum height a picture will ever have, no matter what the splitter position dictates. If there is more space available, the picture area will be filled with solid color and maintain the picture vertically centered. This setting will enlarge a picture when its native size is less than the max height option had been set to.
- Try to keep original size – enlarge the picture up to its native height, but not any further. The splitter position will still have priority and may result in a shrunk picture when not enough space is available.
There is also an option when you right click the bottom display. Always keep the button bar at full width – when checked, the bottom avatar display will never consume horizontal space from the toolbar and the toolbar buttons will have the full width of the message window available. When unchecked, the avatar display can partially use space on the toolbar, forcing the toolbar buttons to shift left. This will result in a larger avatar display at the cost of some toolbar space.
For the upper (info panel) display
The size of the picture is always dictated by the height of the info panel. Scaling the picture up or down can be necessary to fill the available space. However, TabSRMM will always try to maintain the aspect ratio of the picture to avoid distorted pictures.
Per user settings
The visibility of avatars can be set on the general settings page. However, it is possible to override these settings for any user by using the user preferences dialog. This feature could, for example, be used to disable the global display of avatars and later enable it only for certain users (e.g. your close friends).