[Foundation] Recent confusion about the JSF, JINC and the IETF

Robert Norris rob at cataclysm.cx
Thu Aug 1 00:31:46 CDT 2002

Hi all,

This email is in response to a recent discussion in jdev. If you're not
already aware of it, you should checkout the links that stpeter has
posted here:


Now, the recent debate appears to have been sparked by the recent IETF
BOF on the XMPP protocol drafts. Below I've outlined my perception of
the membership at large. This doesn't necessarily reflect my own
opinions on the topic, which I have noted at the end of this message.

So, the way things look to me:

 - The JSF membership, in general, understands the role of the JSF to be
   an overseer of management and development of the protocol. What this
   means, for most people, is that the JSF effectively "owns" the

 - The core Jabber protocols (XMPP) have been offered to the IETF.
   However, the membership was not formally informed of that submission,
   nor were they necessarily in agreeance with it.

The confusion has been furthered by a couple of lines in section 6 of
the minutes of the IETF BOF minutes (available at

Q: Are you comfortable with the notion of giving up control of the
   technology in your flagship project?
A: Yes, this has sign off at the highest levels of managment in Jabber,

Q: Will you support the resulting specification?
A: Yes, this has sign-off at the highest levels of managment in Jabber,

From this, the questions that many people are asking seems to be:

1. Who (JSF or JINC) offered the protocol to the IETF?

2. If it was the JSF, why was the membership not consulted?

3. If it was JINC, why did they do it? Especially since, as a JSF member
   (and the major provider of funds to the JSF) they understand its

4. Is there a difference between the Jabber protocol that the JSF has
   been charged with managing, and the XMPP protocol that was offered to
   the IETF?

5. If so, exactly who (currently) controls the XMPP? And, where is the
   line between XMPP and Jabber?

Now, the situation (as I understand it) is that the IETF process was
begun before the formation of the JSF (and technically, even further
before that - the protocols were offered to the IETF several years ago).

The IETF is not some huge mega-entity, that will wrest control of the
protocol away from the users and developers (ie us). Instead, the XMPP
Working Group (if one was formed), is responsible for the
standardisation of the protocol, and that working group is made up of
interested individuals, much like the JSF membership in that regard.

XMPP is the core Jabber protocols - streams, messages, IQs, presence,
rosters and auth. That is the only thing that an XMPP WG would be
responsible for. Definition of protocol extensions is a function
performed by any interested parties, including the JSF.

If my understanding is correct, we genuinely have nothing to fear from
the IETF. Representation in the IETF means that large vendors are more
likely to support the protocol, and we can continue with the JEP process
to make whatever extensions we like.


Robert Norris                                       GPG: 1024D/FC18E6C2
Email+Jabber: rob at cataclysm.cx                Web: http://cataclysm.cx/
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