DimDim Releases Open-Source Conferencing Platform
Web Conferencing Goes Open-Source: As originally anticipated on these very pages, DimDim web conferencing is finally now a reality,
failed to as it just released, as promised, its first version of the server-based DimDim conferencing server.
Second Update (11:20am GMT+2): I have just received a notification from DimDim, that reads like this:
"The Dimdim source code was released under the OSI approved Open Source license Mozilla Public License (MPL) on our website at 5:00 AM EST. The URL for the download is available on our homepage at www.dimdim.com."
First Update (Wed 8:10am GMT+2): last minute issues seem to have prevented yet the roll out of the downloadable open-source server version, giving strengths to those few who had been suggesting a few weeks ago that DimDim was more speak than words. I am very sorry to confirm that this has shown to be quite true. Not only what DimDim top management told me didn't materialize, but even worst, while they knew that I was going to make an exclusive coverage of this, they found no time or resources to let me know in time.
Nonetheless the above I am leaving here below the entire coverage we had prepared,
but have to warn you of the yet unavailability of the release, (we have not even been given a new release date) , and a warning to be prudent with what this company promises. On the other hand you may find the coverage still interesting to better understand what DimDim is still about to release and what is it going to look like.
In this first public release, DimDim already integrates video, VoIP, text chat and screen / application sharing, and while this feature set falls quite short of the originally announced set of features, it shows good promise in its ability to deliver a full-featured alternative to typical commercial solutions.
Remaining features will be rolled out in the coming weeks alongside the many required fixes and improvements required by this early first public version.
DimDim is easy to use, though the interface leaves lots to be desired as a great deal of premium screen real estate sacrificed to visual controls that prevent the full unobstructed display of the material to be presented. There is a lot more work to do on this front, and as it is often the case these days, DimDim pays the price of a not having had a pro-usability expert / interface designer, with some solid experience at its disposal, with a less than optimal interface dressing its promising first new release.
I have personally video talked to DD Ganguly, the CEO of DimDim, and while he is evidently enthusiastic about his company first release, he is also the first to realize the amount of work still to be done, to make DimDim competitive with the many low-cost solutions already out there. Here is DD own announcement to me, over DimDim, of today's first release:
DD Ganguly announces DimDim official release over DimDim video channel (dur: 1'44")
By choosing to go open-source, DimDim is for itself carving a unique share of attention and support. The open-source community, small businesses, those in academia, research and grassroots organizations looking for reliable alternatives to often too complex and very expensive commercial solutions, have been waiting a long while for something like DimDim to come by.
But to get a better idea of what DimDim is all about without getting your hands dirty, here is Livia Iacolare, Executive Editor for Kolabora.com, who takes an early look at DimDim from the presenter/host podium seat. In a short and effective video quick tour, Livia takes you to see all of the basic DimDim key features in less than 4 minutes.
Kolabora.com executive editor Livia Iacolare showcases DimDim key features from the presenter viewpoint (dur: 3'37")
...and here, introduced by DimDim CEO DD Ganguly himself, the view from the attendee viewpoint:
DD Ganguly showcases DimDim key functions - the view this time is the one of the user / attendee (dur: 2'53")
For now DimDim works only with IE, and therefore, as of now, it requires a computer running Windows. The latest Flash browser plug-in is also a requirement. No way for now to run it on other operating systems.
During installation of the presenter entity an ActiveX component is installed and this is done through links provided and the user needs to nothing other than clicking on appropriate buttons a couple of times. No other configuration is needed.
In practical terms, DimDim is a server-based web conferencing solution and not a software you download and install on your computer. So, you or your organization needs to have a server on which to install DimDim. Once installed, your and your organization team collaborators can connect through your server and hold unlimited audio/video meetings online at absolutely no cost.
DimDim can be used within your organization Intranet as well as from the open-wide Internet, depending on your needs.
According to DimDim, the company will release in December a paid for Enterprise version which will include full support to install, configure and optimize DimDim directly on your company server.
Different configurations for different usage/user types
Once installed on your server, DimDim can be configured to support three different profiles modeling the various types of connection speeds used by users.
1) LAN (On-Premise Installation), 2) Broadband (Cable/DSL/ISDN)
but also 3) DialUp:
I coudn't be more disappointed. While the first release of DimDim would have looked rather acceptable and in some way promising, I was very negatively impacted by the way they decided to manage (or not manage at all) their communications with us. I have never dealt with a company with such a lack of communication and timing abilities. This is pretty scary. Update (Wed 15:39 GMT+2): Half a day has already passed and I am retracting some of my excessive negative criticism as DimDim was able to re-align somewhat the situation by releasing later this morning their open source application.
In the past too, other open-source web conferencing initiatives took forever to move and results were often geeky tools that only a handful of people could install and run successfully.
But none, went as far as recording a video announcement for the release of its product and then forgot to cancel its broadcast because of unresoved bugs and technical issues.
So, for what I can see,
after this unique negative exploit, life for DimDim is going to be now a bit harder than I could have best foreseen until last night. Consider:
a) For now there are plenty of competitors that while costing something offer much more refined interfaces and reliable feature sets.
b) DimDim text chat facility is still rudimentary (no auto-url, no date/time stamp, no indication of source, etc.), screen sharing is slow at best and a bandwidth killer in this first release, and that video and VoIP are only one-way for now.
c) Nonetheless DimDim has some good things for it, including its fully open-source status and its zero cost which will provide extensive free promotion, its inability to deliver on its promises remains its greatest problem and something over which customers and investors will have to think about.
If DimDim can prove to be capable of resurrecting itself after this false start
face down fall, by refining, optimizing and upgrading its feature set to perform on a par with some of these popular low-cost alternatives, I could expect adoption to start picking up moderately. If instead DimDim will remain a poorly implemented opens-source version of the many good collaboration and conferencing tools available out there, then it may gradually fade to insignificance like so many competing tools have ended up doing in the recent past.
Let's see how they follow-up in the next three months.
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