The Escargot development team - our recent inactivity and why it doesn't look good for our future


#1

Hello all.

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.


#2

This shows the level of disinterest that is generating around Escargot, i’m even a victim of that phenomena (I’m not as active here as 2018, or 2017)

I’m not wanting to be direct, but this is just you against a pile of code mess, and i think nobody can help you as tristan or enhanox or Raymonf in this forum in this moment (at least someone with the knowledge joins the forum)

I’ll tell you this: I wish you a lot of luck in bringing WLM 2000-2010 series back and a Yahoo! frontend, but if you don’t want to continue, just rest, is just noticeable that you’re sick of this, and i understand that, and i think everybody so. If you just wanna give up or take a rest, do it, if you want to continue, do it, if you complete this, the entire community will be in gratitude and that, but if you quit, i think nobody will attack you since you’re the only one REALLY doing something.

I’ve just wanted to say this to you, and thank you for your hard work here.


#3

It’s not exactly the big codebase of Escargot that turns me off from coding or working on the project. It’s just that I don’t want to do anything big anymore, meaning I can add fixes and tweaks and small things, but coding an entirely new frontend will probably require a lot of effort to put in, which would do a number on me. Also outside of the server’s code, I can’t really debug programs well to assist in making WLM 2009 work with our authentication library, or really, patch any other clients to work with our frontends, which is what Tristan used to do. All I’m saying is I don’t want to be expected to work on any major stuff for Escargot all the time, especially things that I have no knowledge in, like reverse engineering.


#4

Continuing on from what Andreso said, you work has been absolutely phenomenal, and we can only applaud you for the effort you’ve put into it, despite being mostly solo as of late.

You shouldn’t be expected to tackle this project on alone the way you have, and I wish I could help by contributing to the work on GitHub but sadly me, and most people on the forums, don’t have that knowledge or experience. That’s why most people here view the developers almost as “Gods”, because you guys are able to work on the project and get the ball rolling.

Although hype around Escargot has certainly dwindled since when I joined (2016), it is still a worthwhile project, and so much effort has been put in to get this far to just stop now. (Although I say that, but obviously development is a lot harder since most people on the team has gone radio silent and forced you into this position).

The team you guys had worked so well because you were all proficient at different things, such as reverse engineering, patching, bug fixing and when you guys came together to work on a new front end, it was done quickly and efficiently, you shouldn’t have to work on that alone.

I just want to say we respect everything you have done for this community, because even though it’s filled with the most toxic random stuff I’ve ever seen, you always come out and prevail with something positive.
I wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors, whether it’s Escargot or any other projects.

Thank you!


#5

I really hope you get the help you need soon. This has been one of my favorite old software revival projects to follow and it would stink to see it come to a halt after 2009 comes out.

Escargot is still important to me and I’d love to see it flourish into the full frontend suite valtron wants it to be. I really wish you the best in your endeavours, no matter what path you choose after you release the patch. And who knows? Maybe other people will come along and help the project move quicker. Only time will tell.

(I’d say a bit more, but I think the people above me said what I wanted to say in the first place.)


#6

This won’t be another “you’ve done so much we thank you” post. This feels like spam, isn’t it? My real question is: Why you don’t look for other developers? I mean, you aren’t forced for it. Why not asking friends, or friends of friends, for developers? All I hope is to actually have WLM 2009 working, then leaving it, rotting on my hard drive, only to use it again for few minutes. (Also, I might actually code stuff, but due to my grades I doubt I would go to the school that teaches coding, I need to get motivated so hard and get my lazy ass up, because I use it for other things non-school related [also “coding”, but like changing bites of existing code]).


#7

I might probably jump in soon to help if ya want, It would mean I would have a lot to learn however as I kinda forgot a lot of my programming skills during my break from coding the past few months (the reason why I have problems with WindowsOnline rn), I do also suffer from anxiety and the main reason for its increase was coding so i usually take long breaks sometimes. I am down to help tho but not atm, maybe in the future when im ready then I can help you if you want.


#8

That’s actually a good question. However, I looked into this before, and I’ve seen that this isn’t possible right now for several reasons. First, you have to understand that Escargot is still very niche. Developers probably won’t be interested in coding for something branded as an MSN server, and even when Escargot switches gears to become a global system with different frontends, I don’t anticipate many developers getting interested very quickly. I know I could also go to random parts of the internet to advertise Escargot and see if people are interested in developing, but that feels too spammy.

The big problem, though, is that the developers we’ll get will probably just specialize in server code. We also want other people that can do other things to help out Escargot, like reverse engineering, testing, insiders that can specialize with certain frontends, and much more. Getting that kind of team doesn’t come from trees, unless we started hiring people for paid work, which isn’t what we’re planning to do.


#9

I mean there is always patreon ya know so if developers wanted to get profit from it, I guess thats one way


#10

I wish I could help, but I do not have much free time. I know absolutely nothing about programming, I just learned a little HTML for fun many, many years ago, and I do not remember much of anything.

What I was able to do was bring Mercury back to life, thanks to the curiosity to make mod in Android applications when I had a Galaxy Y in 2012, combined the discovery of the encryption of the urls strings made by Tristan and the texts in the app. Anyway, since 2017 I work in a technical service repairing boards of notebooks and cell phones, serving boring customers and that leaves me with the bag full.

Here in Brazil, at least in the region where I live, it’s not a good place for programmers and you do not see programmers. Most fail to learn because they have nowhere to apply and make a profit. When I talk about the project to friends they just say “Oh, how cool” and that’s all they have to do, they’re not even interested in using MSN again. :confused:


#11

Programming is popular here in the UK, almost everyone wants to be a programmer here, schools teach computer science which teaches the students programming.


#12

I actually once had interest being a developer for it, server developer of course, and trying to get WLM 2009 to work. Well like he said, that place isn’t required right now. Except he needs someone’s help to build the frontend, then I might apply.

Anyway can you tell us the state of Cuki (2009 circles expert)?


#13

Still offline, but he never really progressed with Circles past invites, which is my deal with Circles at the moment. Hopefully when he does come back online he’s made some progress with them, but I doubt it.


#14

Do you seek for frontend developers though?


#15

It’d help speed the coding process a bit, but it isn’t a big deal right now. Our next major frontend is AIM, which has a somewhat complex protocol, but from implementing it myself for ICQ, the basic structure shouldn’t take long to do, and I can just implement a few services at a time. :stuck_out_tongue:


#16

i can work in frontend, cuz in perspective i web-developer and know css and html on base level.


#17

By frontend, I mean the modules that the targeted client(s) will interface with.


#18

:frowning:


#19

Inactive, but didn’t really do much anyway*

Actually, that’s exactly what turns me off from even trying to work on it :grimacing:


#20

Like someone else said, don’t stress yourself, no-one’s forcing you to develop more and more. Clearly you’ve already created marvellous projects. Have a break, and be happy of what you’ve achieved!