This Monday night we released the beta for Yahoo! Messenger 8.0. This release has the usual set of UI improvements and feature changes here and there, but the big news is that Messenger is now opened up for developers. We’ve added support for two types of plug-ins: Tab plug-ins load in the lower part of the main application window while Conversation plug-ins load on the side of a 2-way IM conversation. The Yahoo Developer Network has all the details including the Messenger SDK. We’re also part of the beta Gallery site which will host plug-ins written by Yahoo and 3rd-party developers.
Plug-ins are basically HTML pages that can either be bundled and run locally or from a remote web host. These should be very similar to developing Widgets, but you’ll have the benefit of being hosted inside an IM client. We have some interesting interfaces exposed, like changing status, communicating to others on your buddy list with the same plugin, accessing the address book, and even initiating PC-to-PC or PC-to-PSTN phone calls.
The most interesting plug-ins will take advantage of the buddy list and relationships you’ve already established. I’m looking forward to seeing what people come up with.
This release also followed our recent PR trend of pre-briefing several “influencers” prior to the launch. There’s a good example on Stowe Boyd’s blog (where you can even see my Amazon wish list used as an example).