[Foundation] Should the IETF standardize the protocol?

Peter Millard me at pgmillard.com
Wed Jul 31 16:01:14 CDT 2002

Adam Theo wrote:
> Reply inline.
> Joe Hildebrand wrote:
>> [... lots of stuff munched from adam & joe ...]
>> I just want to make sure that people know that if you don't want the
>> IETF to have change control over the protocol, it's the same thing as
>> not wanting an IETF standard for the protocol.  The IETF demands
>> change control as a condition of taking on the work.
> If this is the case, then I still politely say no to the IETF.
> Besides, perhaps it is time for the IETF to change its ways a bit,
> and allow outside open standards foundations to create and maintain
> the protocols.

I just don't understand this reasoning... If we are the ones participating
in the WG of the IETF, we still have as much of a voice in shaping the
protocol as we do now. It is totally unrealistic to think that the jabber
community can change the governing body of the internet protocols. Saying
that "it's time for the IETF to change it's ways a bit" is a totally naive
attitude. You would have an easier time telling every webmaster in the world
to switch to IIS from Apache. The IETF has a proven process for developing
and standardizing protocols that we all use every day. We should seize the
oppurtunity to use the process.

>> Now, the IETF may not need to standardize the entire protocol.  So
>> far, the drafts that have been submitted are just the basics
>> (stream:stream, message, presence, iq, register, auth, roster, I
>> think).  It may be that any working group that might be formed might
>> only be interested in the basics.
> While this may be a viable option, I believe that it would be best to
> keep "the basics" under JSF control, too. This is to allow us to build
> greater and better things on top of Jabber (I refuse to use that
> "XMPP" term) without having our foundation slipping out from
> underneath us while we try to work. This is not a big issue, since I
> don't see that happening, but it might be something to consider
> anyway.

This just doesn't make sense. The core protocol doesn't have to change in
order for us to build better and bigger things on top of Jabber. People are
doing this all the time. If you're talking about some new "next generation
jabber protocol", then it would be totally different anyways, and would not
fall under the purview of the IETF WG. While I agree, the XMPP thing kind of
stinks, it's something that we all have to deal with going forward. The IETF
drafts have been published, for better or worse. There are too many legal
issues surrounding the word "jabber" that could (and possibly may) cause
problems that the IETF is too eager to avoid. If you want to debate this
issue, lets do that in another thread. It's separate from the IETF control
issues. The JSF would still be active in maintaining all of the extension
protocols that we are already working on. Looking down the current list of
standards track jeps, lets see which are core protocol changes:
    - 003: Nope; 004: Nope, 009: Nope, 013: Nope,
    - 014: Inactive, Nope; 015: Inactive, Nope;
    - 016: Nope; 020: Nope; 021: Nope;
    - 024: Nope; 026: Nope; 028: Nope;
    - 029: Possibly yes.. more of a clarification and setting rules, Already
    - 030: Nope; 031: Nope, 032: Nope;
    - 033: Nope; 034: Nope; 035: Nope;
    - 037: Nope; 038: Nope..
It seems to me, that the JSF isn't doing much in the way of changing the
core protocol anyways. So what would we be loosing??? The JSF is actively
tracking the extension protocols being used on _TOP_ of jabber, but not
changing the fundamental semantics of the protocol, or the core elements
(iq, presence, and message).

> The IETF thankfully does not charge for membership. It doesn't even
> have a membership. This is actually a bad thing because the
> developers do not make the decisions on the future of the IETF. They
> also don't make the decisions on the protocols they are developing,
> that is by an informal consensus of participants, which in the past
> has shown to take a very long time to resolve matters and has caused
> many disputes and attempted forks. Jabber has greatly benefited from
> its formal voting and membership process. It has kept everyone more
> or less happy when that process is followed, and allowed Jabber to
> keep moving forward instead of having to revisit and refresh past
> decisions every so often.

It's a bad thing that the governing body of the internet protocols does NOT
have a membership?? /me picks himself up off the floor. I'd prefer an open
governing body to a closed one any day of the week. In addition, when
molding the various JSF processes, the IETF was used as a model for defining
how we would get things done. Granted we removed some things from their
process, but we are a _MUCH_ smaller organization than the whole of the
IETF. I'm wondering what your experiences are for basing these opinions on??
Have you been to any of the IETF WG meetings?? Have you sat in on the IMPP
WG and to see the kind of people that we need to deal with to shape and
change the internet infrastructure to see Jabber go where we want it to??
Have you participated in any of the mailing lists?? A quick google search
did not turn up any activity by you on any of the mailing lists. Perhaps
your opinion would be different if you were an active participant in their
processes? I have not participated in mailing lists, but I've been to an
IMPP WG meetings to witness first hand the people that we're trying to
influence. I am also not dismissing the idea of having the IETF help us
develop the protocol to gain the kind of acceptance and recognition that
jabber deserves.

> I know Jabber will come to take over the Internet and take its place
> as the premier universal open protocol for instant communications.
> It's a gut feeling because Jabber has what no other attempt has had:
> tolerance, lots of implimentations, and superior technology.
> We don't need the IETF to accomplish these things, the only thing the
> IETF would help with is to make this happen a bit faster.

In my opinion, the jabber community needs a bigger/better push forward than
anyone here has the standing or time to do (hope I don't offend anyone).
Jabber needs to be brought to the fore-front of internet technology "icons"
and the IETF is really the _ONLY_ way to do that. If we ever want Jabber to
flourish like you say, we can't just be internet introverts... We need to
embrace outsiders, buck it up, take some criticism of our protocol, change
and get better. Being a closed community does not help us "win friends and
influence internet infrastructure" :) The Jabber community has made great
progress thus far, but we're still just an "IM thing" for most people
outside... We need to change that, and the only way to do it is to gain
standing in the internet community at large. We've done well, but not well
enough. We need to change something, not just be "patient". If we don't do
something, another "force" will (M$, AOL, etc..).

> With the IETF, I seriously doubt Jabber would come to replace such
> legacy protocols as HTTP and SMTP. The IETF community would more or
> less have a bias towards restricting Jabber to IM and fringe uses,
> allowing HTTP to become the premier protocol for "web services" and
> the "semantic web". I'm not claiming a great conspiracy, just
> community bias.

Um... Last time I checked the W3C was in charge of the SOAP spec, not the
IETF. Granted SOAP and XML-RPC primarily use HTTP, but so do most jabber
clients (for file xfers). But why did they choose HTTP?? Probably because
they weren't aware of any alternatives. Given the choice between HTTP, FTP,
or SMTP, which protocol would you use?? I would have made the same choice
given the alternatives. At the time, if jabber had a bigger "image" (perhaps
via the IETF), those folks using SOAP and XML-RPC would be using jabber
instead of HTTP.

> Watching a few of the IETF's past Working Groups and hearing about the
> strong impression that they create protocols by committee, and few of
> the developers actually try to impliment the protocol they are making.
> This is in sharp contrast with Jabber.

Protocols are created by WG's in the IETF, and WG's are the people who
participate. That can be us.. the existing jabber community!! Are you also
implying from this statement that you are a developer?? I could have sworn
that you said you don't code on many occasions. What's the differentiator
between you and others like you that participate in the IETF?? If you're
afraid of "losing control" of the protocol, it shouldn't be a big concern..
People that have been involved with jabber for a lot longer than you have
aren't concerned about this... Most of us think making Jabber become an IETF
standard would be a GOOD THING (tm).

Perhaps you're more concerned about your standing in the community once the
community expands to include folks from the greater IETF organization?? If
this is the case, your personal issues should not get in the way of Jabber
reaching it's full potential in the internet community at large. Standing
and respect in these circles is gather by producing results, not by gaining
a following. There are probably lots of people out there that think that I
haven't contributed a lot over the past year, and that may be true, but I'd
like to hope and think that my standing in the jabber community is judged by
the JEPs that I help author, by my comments to other JEPs, by help I provide
to people working on jabber projects, and most importantly, by the code that
I produce for the Jabber open source community which I hope helps further
the jabber cause.

Hope this all makes sense.

pgm (trying to put the best foot forward to see Jabber World Domination).

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