[jdev] Seeing users' genders: implementation opinions?

Gabriel Soto gabsoto at gmail.com
Wed Jun 17 14:24:11 CDT 2009

We are developing an IM application, mostly XMPP-based, and using ejabberd
on the server side.
The client software is intended to go public at some point, so we should
expect lots of users.

For this application the gender of each user should be known by other users.
Furthermore, it will be highly integrated in the (graphic) user interface.
For instance, female and male contacts will be shown with a different icon
on the roster list, same thing with lists of occupants in a MUC, etc.

Currently we are studying alternatives to solve this requirement. I'm
looking for suggestions on how to approach its implementation.

On one hand we could go with PubSub/PEP and put the gender in a node for
each user. This would add some complexity on the client since every time we
need the gender of someone, not existing a subscription to the node, we'll
have to ask it to the server and wait for the response to show the
corresponding GUI elements.
This would be doable. Now, what about MUCs? we would have to retrieve the
gender for each occupant every time the user enters a room. It seems like
that could create some unnecessary traffic.

On the other extreme we could store the gender in the user's vcard or
somewhere else and hack ejabberd to include the appropriate information in
certain messages, like roster pushes, MUC presence, etc.
I'm not very familiar with ejabberd's code but I can see that these are not
simple changes and they will take time. However I'm willing to get into it
if it's the best thing to do.

I'll appreciate any insight or recommendation on how to approach the

Thanks a lot,
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