[jdev] Re: Re: The State of Our Code-bases

Rachel Blackman rcb at ceruleanstudios.com
Thu Sep 2 05:12:30 CDT 2004

> In Sendmail's defence, I suppose there are tons and tons of books on 
> the
> subject, which simply isn't the case for Jabberd.  However, how much 
> longer
> has Sendmail had to accumulate these books?  Did it have this many 
> books in
> its opening years?

Likely not, but one could also make the argument that at the time, 
Sendmail was the only game in town.  qmail, Postfix, Exim and whatnot 
have been around for a while now, but I believe all of them arose in 
the 1990's.  Sendmail had more than a decade of being pretty much The 
E-mail Server, so far as I can tell.  (Granted, it's 3am and I'm too 
tired to go check for certain on dates.)  qmail, Exim and Postfix all 
tried to provide something other than Sendmail did, something to make 
them stand out.

By contrast, Jabber is not 'the only game in town' when it comes to 
instant messaging.  In fact, if it's trying to become a popular 
end-user IM solution, instead of just a corporate solution (where, yes, 
it is in a much smaller playing field), then it is actually struggling 
against several very-entrenched players.  Each of the Sendmail 
alternatives offered something to the target audience (system 
administrators): better performance, less security holes, modular 
design, etc.

In order to overtake the existing networks in terms of end-user usage, 
Jabber needs something to 'win out' over them which the target audience 
-- IM end-users -- will understand.  Pubsub, for instance, is a really 
cool technology, but it won't convince my father to switch off of MSN.  
x-data is a useful way to capture user input information, but the 
average end-user won't see it necessarily as being all that different 
as when AIM or MSN redirect you to a webpage for a survey or something. 
  Sadly, the thing which makes Jabber stand out the most to the average 
end-user is the transports... which should not be Jabber's selling 
point.  Worse still, after they try to use the transports and find they 
can't file-transfer with their friends on the legacy networks, can't 
see buddy icons, or any of the other things they're used to, they 
usually forget about Jabber and go instead to Gaim or Trillian or any 
of the other combined messengers.

While you can maybe apply the example of Postfix or qmail trying to 
encroach on Sendmail's territory, the example I usually see people 
using for Jabber is Apache.  The Apache example being used for 
Jabber/XMPP is a bad one; I'd say that the JSF bears less resemblance 
to the Apache Software Foundation, and more to the W3C.

The ASF builds a software platform, which others have built on top of, 
as well as standards (like apxs) relating to that platform.  The W3C 
defines, instead, a collection of protocols and markup languages, and 
while they /do/ technically have a reference implementation (Amaya), 
this reference implementation is not, in my experience, a product which 
anyone actually uses.

If the JSF is in the role of the W3C, the problem might well be that we 
need an ASF for our W3C... an active, large developer project which 
implements the defined standards in a clean and usable way.  After all, 
one could argue that the W3C's standards would not have been as 
well-adopted as they are without the Apache Software Foundation to push 
them forward in a usable platform.

Rachel 'Sparks' Blackman -- sysadmin, developer, mad scientist
"If it is not broken, give me five minutes to redesign it!"
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