Trillian Astra Beta: Build 89 short review

I am in no way qualified to review software because I a) can’t code for the life of me, and b) have no idea what qualifies as a good program or a bad one. I am however a longtime Trillian user, so I have that going for me!

Just like any other person, I use instant messaging programs often. Over the years, I accumulated a number of contacts across various different clients, and it became quite tiresome to log into three or four different programs just to talk to people. It was at that point that I picked up Trillian, and I have been using it ever since.

I heard about Trillian Astra about a year ago while searching for a way to add the MSN Personal Message function onto Trillian. I found out that Trillian Astra had this feature, and upon learning that I signed up for the beta testing. Yes, I’m dumb. Anyway, I had totally forgotten about this beta testing until yesterday, when I got an email from Cerulean Studios with a neat little link to the latest build of Trillian Astra.

The skin they start you off on when you first install the program is pretty ugly. It’s called Trillian Cordonata, and its most distinguishing design feature is the use of gradients everywhere. It comes with a bunch of different themes, but they’re all horrid. Especially the holiday one. Luckily, that’s only one of two skins, and the other skin is Trillian Colbalt, which is a lot closer to the look of Trillian 3. Naturally, this is the one I’m using. It comes in three different flavours, as well– Original, Minimal and Tabbed.

There’s a bunch of silly stuff that’s enabled by default, but it’s all very easy to disable with a quick run through the preferences. One thing I find particularly annoying is the Knowledge Bar, which is a little bar that runs across the top of your chat windows, scrolling through the top stories of a variety of RSS feeds. Some people may like that, but I find it annoying.

Astra offers a lot more services than Trillian Basic 3 does, including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter and Skype. The only one of these that I’ve used is Twitter, but others certainly are useful.

Since this program is still in its beta phase, it has a number of bugs, but things more or less work decently. Hopefully they can iron out all the crap in good time, and finally put out a real release!