So basically, there’s this other libpurple based client on that other platform, called Adium, which uses webkit as the IM rendering backend and allows for tons of crazy message styles that really make the IM client a more unique and aesthetically appealing program. These days, webkit is being used everwhere, from desktop browsers such as Safari and Chrome to smartphone OSes like iPhone OS X and Android. It seems that webkit is in general easier to embed into other applications than gecko, which is kind of a shame in my opinion, but I suppose if something works better for certain purposes, it makes sense to use it.
Some time ago, one of the pidgin developers, Sean Egan, decided to try and embed webkit into Pidgin and then use Adium’s message styles. He got it into a working state, the results of which can be seen here, but it was kind of left out for the public to see and never got integrated into Pidgin proper, since I assume the code was somewhat hackish. Of course, as this was a very exciting development, eventually someone else picked it up and developed it a bit.
The latest pidgin-webkit source can be found on launchpad, a site run by Canonical that is similar to Sourceforge, Google Code, github, etc. You can check out the source using bzr and after installing the proper development headers for pidgin and webkit, the plugin actually compiles, and you can use it! Under Ubuntu at least the proper headers are found in packages nicely labeled libwebkit-dev and pidgin-dev. After installing the dependencies you just do a make and then make install to get the plugin installed into Pidgin. You can then use it as you would any plugin, and you just put the Adium messagestyles folders into $PURPLEHOME/message_styles.
Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten it to compile on Windows yet, which is my primary OS at the moment, but I’m working on setting up a Pidgin cross-compile environment in a VM so I can try to compile a Windows .dll, which would be the height of awesomeness. I think if I have free time I would love to actually look at the plugin and try to continue development, since the last guy working on it seems to have become too busy.
Oh, this is the homepage for Pidgin-webkit.