I’ve talked about the issue I’m going to bring up to numerous people on numerous occasions, and even talked about it on Escargot’s Slack, only for the latter to get no response. I’ve finally gotten worked up, and now I feel like I have to talk about the recent dwindling of the Escargot “dev team”, if there even is one anymore.
Back in 2017, Escargot had quite a few people working on it – namely @tristanleboss, @enhanox, and @mynetx (he usually goes by Jublo or JM). Tristan helped reverse engineer the MSN software and its components to assist in tying loose ends for Escargot support. One being getting the necessary information needed for a custom msidcrl library for 7.5+ that authenticates to Escargot so that we wouldn’t have to stick with pipeauth, and unearthing other internals of MSN that were much needed to improve the server’s functionality. enhanox helped get Mac support for MSN on Escargot off the ground, along with testing compatibility of MSN clients and looking into MSN Chat support. JM/mynetx assisted in the actual coding of the server, usually through clients from his agency, Jublo. With these three people in hand, Escargot was going to reach its goal of supporting all MSN clients soon enough. However, by the time late 2017 rolled around, WLM 2009 support was the next to-do for Escargot, and Tristan was working hard on support for it. Soon enough, he had a base for MSNP18 support set up on Escargot, and now it just needed proper tweaking to fully support WLM 2009.
Unfortunately, by the time it did need that, valtron was dealing with some personal issues, so he couldn’t do all the fancy stuff, and no work on MSN support had been supplied for a while. During that time period, I noticed that two of the devs we have had started to disappear: Tristan and enhanox. I then decided to take on the role of getting WLM 2009 fully working. As I was working on it, I’d look at the issues section of Escargot’s repository to occasionally post problems regarding the MSN and Yahoo! clients that somewhat affected their use on the server. Even on the MSN side of things, neither Tristan nor enhanox came to reply. At the time, this wasn’t a big issue, and I continued work on 2009 support.
By the time 2009 support was completed, it was now time to get patching out of the way. Unfortunately, an issue with our msidcrl solution is that on 2009 and above, authentication fails. I asked for info on this on Escargot’s issue board and no reply from anyone. And before then, I asked for a potential lead on Circle invites not working, and still no reply. At this point, I felt like I was the only one actually doing anything for Escargot, while everyone else was doing their own business. There were even times where I’d ask for help on Escargot’s Slack on issues that I thought someone would answer, but it’d usually be dead air, and I’d feel like everyone else was relying on me to do all the dirty work just so that Escargot wouldn’t end up abandoned.
Its now 2019, and the current status of the dev team hasn’t changed a bit:
- Tristan: offline for several months; don’t know his whereabouts
- enhanox: Same deal as Tristan
- Raymonf: Inactive, but didn’t really do much anyway
- JM: probably tending to his agency
- TReKiE: while he did offer useful info about MSN and its protocol (even network captures), that’s pretty much his scope
- valtron: active, but doesn’t do much coding anymore; mostly fixes
Now that I’ve figured out that the msidcrl problem is that a makeshift structure we return in the library doesn’t meet WLM’s expectations, I really wish Tristan was here. In fact, I wish the whole team reassembled. It was like a whole ensemble of people doing everything in their will to make Escargot the best it could be, alongside being seamless with client patching thanks to the reverse engineering help we got. However, the amount of active developers for the project over time has decreased to 2, which includes me, but since I’m counting actual major progress and not bug fixes, that’d be 1, which is me. Instead of feeling like I’m working with a group of people by my side for a collaborative project, it feels like everyone’s counting on me to program, reverse-engineer, and all that other junk just to make Escargot go somewhere, which is a lot of work for someone who just does this as a hobby. If that weren’t the case, then Escargot would probably be rotting on GitLab. I’m not exactly sure if most of our helpful members will come back soon, but I honestly doubt it. After WLM 2009 and Yahoo! support are released, I’ll probably start coding less for Escargot aside from the Yahoo! frontend, since its protocol is the most interesting and simplistic to develop for. I want Escargot to be a team again, where everyone does their part, not a project with one active developer doing all the back-breaking work.
All I hope for is that in the end, the team comes back and Escargot and patches for its targeted clients don’t stay in development limbo.