Open-source freeware that helps you develop in Java
Spark is an open-source instant messaging client aimed at organizations like businesses, schools, and clubs. Designed to be ideal for the purposes of a single group, Spark has better privacy and less distractions than other major instant messaging services. It offers many of the same tools as the more generalized options, such as in-line spell check, tabbed conversations, and emoticons, but also runs faster and is easier to use for all ages and levels of computer experience because of the simplicity of the program. It also provides full SSL encryption. However, you will need at least one computer-savvy person in the group to set up Spark initially and to provide account and server information to all users within a group, as Spark is used with OpenFire, the Jabber server. Fortunately, a great deal of documentation is available, and guides on set-up are easy to come by. Once the server is set up, the user-end experience is simple and intuitive.
As an open-source project, Spark has an occasional bug or two. Currently, the kinks are being worked out of the organization of contacts into groups. Still, the overall experience is positive, and it has the bonus thrill of nostalgia for those who sometimes miss the older, simpler instant messaging ways. Spark is reminiscent of the early days of AIM, Yahoo Messenger, and others in many ways, including the simple color-coding of contacts and the bare-basics interface. It has additional features, too, like a note editor and task list. For work on digital projects, there is a screen capture tool to share images from your desktop. Voice chat is also available. Another bonus of Spark is the ability to translate into multiple languages, both for the interface text and in conversations.
Many classrooms and offices use Spark for internal communications, but it's just as good for gaming groups or less formal projects.