[Foundation] continuing the conversation

Peter Saint-Andre stpeter at jabber.org
Tue Jul 15 03:09:16 CDT 2003

OK, I'm tired, jetlagged, distracted by IETF happenings, and working on
a German-language keyboard here at IETF 57 in Vienna. But I've been
thinking about this a lot, so I'd like to try contributing productively 
to the topic at hand. 

I see several issues or driving forces or attitudes behind the request 
for a name change:

1. XMPP is here, let's take advantage of it
2. We need to encourage commercial involvement
3. There's confusion between JINC and JSF
4. Old vs. new, meritocracy, etc.
5. What is the JSF, anyway?

## XMPP ##

XMPP is an IETF adaptation of the core Jabber protocol. XMPP != Jabber
because there are significant differences between the two (which I have
yet to explicitly document). At the core, Jabber is essentially XMPP 0.9
(as it were). But there are things we've developed that are not XMPP
even at the protocol level (indeed they are incompatible with XMPP, such
as old-style auth). As the leader of our IETF efforts, I can say that I
would prefer not to push every protocol extension through the IETF (yes,
that is an understatement). I think the JEP process is a good way to
separate the wheat from the chaff, and to develop protocols that we
might want to work on in the XMPP WG (a good example might be pubsub,
since there is need for generic notification systems in other IETF
working groups).

Much of the impetus for a name change seems to be driven by a desire to
cash in on the success of our IETF efforts. Although the name change
proposal is couched in general terms right now (it must be anything but
Jabber), those proposing the change always bring up XMPP and seem to 
want the new name to include that term somehow. While I have my concerns
about that, I do think we need to come to grips with the implications of
IETF ratification of the XMPP specs on the Jabber community and our
protocol work in general. That does not necessarily require a name
change, but it does require discussion.


Jabber started as an open-source project and community (yes, there was
life before JINC). Over time companies got involved (first Tipic and
Antepo, later Winfessor and Jive). Some companies will be small software
developers. Others will be large corporate entities such as HP, IBM,
Sun, Sony, and so on. Companies like HP, IBM, and Hitachi seem to have
no problem with the Jabber name. The same is true of Antepo. Other
companies do have concerns. We need to talk about those concerns and try
to address them. Again, that does not necessitate a name change (or may
not, anyway). But I do understand the concerns of some of the companies
that are involved today, even if I think they are not universal.


Yes, some people in the press get confused between JINC and JSF (but
remember that journalists are easily confused). The story here is unique
in the software world, and we need to do a better job of communicating
it; on that we can all agree. So let's do a better job. Does that
require a name change? Maybe, maybe not. And remember that changing the
name will require a lot of explanation as well. :) On the other hand,
and echoing something that Don Bergal of Antepo said, Jabber is a known
technology. At OSCON last week, lots and lots of people came up to me at
the booth and said "Jabber, yeah, I downloaded that 2 years ago, need to
get back into it" or "We run Jabber, it's great!" or "You're right, I
really need to switch from AIM" or whatever. People know what Jabber is,
and we've spent 4+ years building the software, the network, and the
user base that enables us to be a presence in the software world. Let's
build on that if possible. Maybe we can do that without changing the
name but with rebranding of logos and compliance programs. I think it is
worth trying.

## OLD vs. NEW ##

Some have characterized this discussion as one of stubborn old-timers
vs. dynamic newcomers. While I don't think that is accurate (some newer
folks such as Matt Mankins see the value of building on the Jabber 
"legacy" and some older contributors such as Iain Shigeoka are desirous
of change), there is a grain of truth here. BTW, I do not consider
myself a founding member of the Jabber community, since I didn't really
start contributing until mid-2000. However, I do believe in meritocracy
and in showing respect for those who have made it possible for us to
even have this discussion. Obviously Jeremie is first on that list even
though he is not really actively involved any longer. Thomas Muldowney
and Dave Smith are a close second given all their work on the core
server etc. before release 1.0 was a glimmer in Jeremie's eye. Ryan
Eatmon and Peter Millard are right in there too (heck, for a long time,
the official protocol simply was whatever Winjab supported). These
people built Jabber. They made it possible for us to work on this
technology. Without them, none of us would be here. I think they deserve
our respect and our thanks. And I think they should be listened to. That
does not mean their word is god, that they cannot be questioned, or that
we should just do what they say. But through many years of actively
contributing, they have gained merit and standing in this community.
After all, IM does not stand for instant merit. ;)


What is the JSF here for, anyway? What is our charter? Are we just a
protocol organization? If so, why? What is the relationship between our
community standards process and the community itself? Can we separate
the standards process from the community/network/users without causing
confusion and losing touch with the needs of users and developers? I 
don't have all the answers to these questions and I'm out of time right 
now, but I think we need to ask these questions, and try to answer them.



Peter Saint-Andre
Jabber Software Foundation

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