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msn musicGaim is an open source instant messenger, which is compatible with AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, ICQ and more. A few months ago Steven Garrity told me they were looking for new event sounds and asked if I’d be interested in contributing something.

It sounded like a fun challenge and the work of Steven (and associates) helping with the design of Mozilla Firefox has been real intriguing to me. I like the idea of getting artists involved in the open source design process because the interface often gets neglected which drives away the users who don’t care how awesome it is under the hood.

Steven and I agreed on the requirements for good instant messenger sounds, and they’re fairly demanding: the sounds must be communicative, attention-grabbing and at the same time can’t get annoying after the user has heard them a thousand times. Tricky!

For a week or so I came up with sound ideas and Steven gave me a lot of helpful feedback. I’d tweak the sounds, throw a bunch out, and we’d go through them again. It was actually a lot more work than you’d expect for some tiny bleeps and boops. Here’s the sound pack we came up with:

I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. It was my first attempt at any sort of UI sound design and I think they balance sexiness and functionality pretty well — they get your attention but are mellow enough to keep from getting annoying too quickly.

A couple of weeks ago I wound up in the Gaim IRC channel and was told that the sounds have been committed to the Gaim 2.0 CVS, which means they should be the new default sounds for Gaim 2.0 whenever it’s released. So I’m pretty happy about that and thanks a lot to Steven for getting me involved in this project in the first place.

Also: by being included with Gaim the sounds are now under the GPL, I believe. So if you’re an open source developer and need some sounds, feel free to use them.

Update: Steven has posted a before and after of the Gaim sounds for y’all here.

Posted on - November 20, 2004 [at] 3:59 pm by Brad
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