IMAX

Project Overview


IMAX  logo

The goal of this project was to develop instant messaging access to Multi-User Dimension (MUD) environments and to exploit the environments for new purposes and create worlds for people to interact and conduct business. The project also examined the potential of such environments for advertising purposes. An output of the project is a lightweight means of creating and deploying IM services on an enthusiasts home PC.

Project Dates: 01/10/2004 – 03/10/2005

Project Achievements


During the project we designed and implemented a product, which would enable a user to launch their own personal computer-based IM services, to be known as IMAX. This product was built upon an Instant Messaging (IM) infrastructure to enable communications and interaction with Multi-User Dimension (MUD) technology. A MUD is a virtual world wherein multiple characters can interact with each other, usually in the form of a fantasy role-playing game (RPG). Interaction with a MUD is entirely text-based and as such is entirely suited to extension over an IM communications channel. The MUD receives commands from a user – basic textual commands. These commands are usually abbreviated directions (cardinal point references, e.g. North = n, West = w) or a MUD-locale vocabulary of known commands (e.g. shout, whisper, go). In addition to MUD integration, IMAX also proposed to implement a new advertising dimension for IM (Instant Messaging Advertising Dimension or IMAD) however during early phase market analysis of this idea we came to two conclusions; plain text adverts lacked the impact of richer multimedia enabled advertising; a client that would support rich content and enable more effective advertising was required. The receipt of richer content would require enhanced client interfaces and although the option of developing plug-ins for existing clients was explored, this lead to an inconsistent user experience (intrusive pop up windows were the only option available). However, a custom built client could provide seamless integration of rich content providing the user with a much more natural experience. During early prototype development of this client it was realised, through market validation exercises, that a custom built IM client that could also provide VoIP and videoconference capabilities, would be of significant value in the mobile communications arena.

 

The software produced consists of:

  • IM Connectivity API (IMAX Integrators): An API to facilitate integration with the major IM public services and enterprise server software, in order that services utilising the technology can access the largest possible set of IM users.
  • IMIS API: An API to enable IMAX developers to extend the features available for creating services. This API will also provide basic gateway interfaces to other services such as HTTP, SOAP, and hardware interfacing.
  • IMUD: We developed an IM façade on an existing MUD engine. This involved adding a telnet capability to the existing IM communications layer that had been developed as part of the IMPRUVE project.
  • InfinitIM: When the potential of control over the IM client became apparent, it was also noticed that IM alerts and other marketing type campaigns would require a sophisticated IM client to handle this richer content. We needed to develop our own in-house IM client. We began work on a PC based client built on Java SWT GUI technology, now known as InfinitIM.

Additional Details

Development methodology: Agile development

Development Environment:

  • Tools and Technologies

-          eclipse

-          maven

-          JUnit

-          JCoverage

-          SWT

-          XML

-       Java 1.4.2

 

An application has been developed to provide a telnet-based session to interact with a MUD (Multi-User Dimension). The application provides an interface through IM with which users can interact with the MUD through a “MUD buddy” registered with their usual IM client.  An Instant Messaging API was developed supporting Jabber and Windows Messenger to support this application.

 

In addition to MUD integration, IMAX also proposed to implement a new advertising dimension for IM (IMAD) however during early phase market analysis of this idea we came to two conclusions; plain text adverts lacked the impact of richer multimedia enabled advertising; a client that would support rich content and enable more effective advertising was required. The receipt of richer content would require enhanced client interfaces and although the option of developing plug-ins for existing clients was explored, this lead to an inconsistent user experience (intrusive pop up windows were the only option available). However, a custom built client could provide seamless integration of rich content providing the user with a much more natural experience. During early prototype development of this client it was realised, through market validation exercises, that a custom built IM client that could also provide VoIP and videoconference capabilities, would be of significant value in the mobile communications arena.

Funding


Enterprise Ireland.