mfioretti: jabber*

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  1. Movim
    When social network meets IM,
    you can expect some surprises…

    Our main motto? Don't reinvent the wheel. Since the beginning all the Movim communications are made using XMPP.
    Voting 0
  2. We blindly relied on Google to spread XMPP and declared victory as years passed quietly, not foreseeing them deriving from the standard so many years down the road, nullifying our network effect. Now, we face the problem of recreating a network effect—except that this time around, IM clients ain’t cool anymore: the Web ate their convenience. In-browser IM, powered by social networking websites that made contact management a thing of the past—something that we could not have imagined in the early to mid 2000’s—are making traditional instant messaging obsolete for many, many people.

    Coup de grâce: with the coming of WebRTC for audio/video calls and file transfers, the Web is well on its way to conquering the last remaining technological advantages of traditional IM. It seems like we failed to provide and maintain a compelling, coherent technical offer in time. Just as an example, in nearly a decade of using XMPP, I’m still stuck with the following problems:

    Unreliable servers/services. I’m selfishly hoping that, due to its small population and our fantastic sysadmins and infrastructure, the GNOME jabber server I’m migrating to solves these issues for me. The issue remains for the public at large however. “Reliable” servers are hard and expensive, and so the promise of gratis decentralization falls apart somewhat.
    Contact authorizations randomly resetting every few months, forcing both parties to remove and re-add each other to be able to see their online status (this occurs no matter which jabber client. It appears like a “phase of the moon” bug with various XMPP servers – good luck investigating that)
    With many jabber clients:
    Audio/video chat breaking on a regular basis (if implemented at all)
    Fast file transfers (or any file transfer at all, really) working 10% of the time (if at all), depending on your network, the server you’re on, the server your friend is on, and the alignment of planets
    Remote desktop being broken (if implemented at all)
    End-to-end encryption being generally nonexistent

    Fragmentation, bugs and incomplete implementations.

    Now you might say “but aren’t audio/video and file transfers just extra features? Isn’t ‘a faster email’ what IM is all about?”… The problem with that kind of objective is that we’re a solution looking for a problem, then. If you’re limiting your definition of IM to text, this functionality now exists in two (arguably superior) forms: social web IM, and the venerable IRC.

    As part of the Pitivi, GStreamer and GNOME communities, I find myself realizing that everyone I need to chat with (besides the closest friends and family) are on… IRC. Why would I add these people to my jabber contact list when I’m going to talk to them the same way on IRC anyway? What does Jabber really offer in a compelling way that IRC doesn’t? You may say that IRC is room-based and doesn’t have the notion of a “contact list”, but that’s just a superfluous client UI detail. A contact list is just pinning down the names of those you care about, so theoretically there’s no reason why we couldn’t have such a thing in, say, Polari.

    It seems to me like there is a place for multimedia-intensive telecommunications over WebRTC, and a place for many-to-many traditional text chat with IRC; but the middle-ground between them is kinda going extinct. I will still be showing my Jabber address publicly on my homepage for the foreseeable future, but maybe a day will come where nobody even knows what this artifact is for anymore.
    Voting 0

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