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Thoughts on Facebook Chat

Monday, February 15, 2010 by darco

I was quite excited last Wednesday to discover that Facebook has finally delivered on their promise of exposing an XMPP client interface to their integrated chat system. After the initial euphoria wore off, I started to realize that there is still a lot of work to be done.

In terms of duplicating the chat experience that already exists via the Facebook website, the XMPP implementation they have set up does a wonderfully adequate job.

The problem is that the XMPP interface to Facebook Chat is really only a gateway. It is similar in concept to how XMPP transports allow you to use closed IM networks via XMPP, except they are exposing a client interface (C2S) instead of a server interface (S2S). While this approach is adequate for simple chat, it means that the only features supported are features that already exist in Facebook chat—which is pretty much bare bones chat.

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XMPP Finally Arrives to Facebook

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 by darco

facebook-150x150 I was just able to connect to using an XMPP client with username and password.

When I logged into all of my accounts this morning, I was greeted with a message from "You were marked as Online because you signed on with Jabber."

UPDATE: Official Announcement: Facebook Chat Now Available Everywhere

UPDATE: Added some commentary on Integrating with Facebook Chat

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Calendar Federation and XMPP

Monday, July 13, 2009 by darco

Why can't sending an event invitation to someone be as easy as sending an email? Why can't I check a friend's availability if they aren't using the same calendar server? Why can't I share a calendar with my friends who don't have an account on my calendar server?

For some reason or another, the concept of Calendar Servers has captured my imagination over the past year or so. I believe this technology could change how people think of time management, but I think it needs three things before it can get to that point:

  1. Ability to invite someone to an event who is using a different calendar server.
  2. Ability to view availability of someone who is using a different calendar server. (And, as a corollary, the ability to control who can see your availability)
  3. Ability to share calendars and events with people who don't have an account on my calendar server.

The key to make all of this possible is something I call Automatic Federation.

UPDATE: After writing this post, individuals have brought to my attention RFC-2446, RFC-2447, and the iSCHEDULE Technical Committee. At first glance, it looks like this may make the stuff I was proposing here somewhat irrelevant, but some investigation is still warranted. I'm not yet sure how these specs prevent abusive things like spoofing and who is allowed to see free-busy information.

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Mobile XMPP

Thursday, February 14, 2008 by darco

From the Android SDK M5 API Changes Overview, Dave Cridland pointed out the following:

The package has been replaced by the package. This is driven by the fact that the GTalk API is not XMPP compliant, and will be less so going forward. The reason is that XMPP is too verbose and inefficient for mobile network connection, and the GTalk API will be moving to a binary encoding for the protocol between the client and the server.

I'll enumerate the implications and conclusions:

  1. XMPP is verbose.
  2. XMPP is inefficient for mobile networking.
  3. A proprietary binary protocol would be more efficient for mobile devices.
  4. The former Android xmppService API will diverge away from XMPP.

I think that this direction is unfortunate, and the reasons misguided. Read on, and I'll elaborate...

NOTE: This post seems to no longer be fully inline with my current position—which is that a new (as of yet undefined) UDP-based C2S protocol using EXI would be best suited for mobile devices. Such a thing would however still be XMPP. Edited 2009-07-13.

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Livejournal Talk

Friday, July 28, 2006 by darco

Ok, ok... I know this isn't new... But it's new to me. It would seem that Livejournal now runs their own Jabber server!

LJ Talk is what they call it, and they apparently have big plans—all of them revolving around interoperability and freedom of choice.

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XMPP Client Daemon

Sunday, May 21, 2006 by darco

There are many Jabber clients out there for just about every platform imaginable. This is often cited as one of the strengths of Jabber, but it does have serious drawbacks; namely end-user confusion and (for open-source projects)duplicated developer effort. I'm starting to think that the approach that nearly all Jabber clients take is sub-optimal.

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Full-Time Jabber

Friday, May 19, 2006 by darco

A few months ago I made a post telling the world that as of my birthday of this year I would no longer be using AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, or ICQ—and use federated IM services (Specifically those using the Jabber protocol) exclusively. Well, guess what: Today's my birthday.

For those of you who are still confused as to what exactly Jabber is, read on and I'll break it down for you one more time.

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Pushing Jabber Forward

Friday, April 28, 2006 by darco

When I announced a while back that as of my Birthday (May 19th) of this year I would no longer be using AIM, ICQ, YIM, or MSN in favor Jabber, I did not quite anticipate the response I received. Apparently I struck a chord with some people.

Some were confused, some even seemed upset, but most of the responses I have received have been extraordinarily positive—even to the point of adopting my birthday as the day that they swear off those legacy services.

The idea was pretty simple: The most common excuse I hear for not using jabber is "I don't know anyone who uses Jabber who doesn't use anything else". Well, now they will. But getting a Jabber account just to chat with me seems kind of silly. It can be kind of hard to know who has a Jabber account and who doesn't, even with the Jabber Users Directory. I think what we may need is to create a database which also includes people's legacy addresses as well. That way, if/when you migrate to jabber, you can more easily see who is using Jabber. Just a thought.

It doesn't feel right to make a post about Jabber without also mentioning the recent loss that the Jabber community has suffered. Peter Millard, a long time member and contributor to the Jabber community, passed away on April 26th. My condolences go to wife and daughter. He will be missed.

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