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How do people know that I am initiating an IM to them, but have not finished or sent it yet?


Scratch Warrhol
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If you have an IM open already and you are talking to someone there is a message at the top of the IM window that shows when the person you are IM'ing is typing.  I've seen it when the message says typing and then it stops and an IM never comes through.........sometimes it's just the person has stopped typing for a while or decided not to send and backspaced to erase the message.  That's probably what they are seeing and think maybe they missed the message.

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If you are using Phoenix, you can set Preferences >> Phoenix >> IM >> "Announce Incoming Instant Messages" .  It's a clever option, triggered as soon as someone starts typing an IM intended for you.  It's a little disconcerting for the sender, as you have noticed, but it gives you a few seconds to compose yourself and think of a witty repartee before the IM arrives.  The Phoenix developers did not include that in the current release of Firestorm, and I am not aware of other viewers that have the feature.

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In addition to what Rolig said: Firestorm will have it in the upcoming release - I added it a while ago. :D

Basically it is a fairly easy thing: When you start typing, your viewer sends out a TYPING_START message out to everyone else. By default, the viewer does nothing if it receives that message and there is no open IM session yet. But of course you can also show some sort of message to the user if your viewer receives such a message. In the other direction, you can also prevent the viewer from sending out those TYPING_START message - which is why upcoming Firestorm will have both options: Show imcoming IMs and prevent sending of TYPING_START messages.

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