[Foundation] JSF == Jabber Standards Foundation?

Matt Tucker matt at jivesoftware.com
Thu May 22 16:55:55 CDT 2003


> Technically, the protocol is XMPP.  The technical people of the world
> (might) talk of this program or that containing XMPP support, just as they
> speak of an application containing SMTP, HTTP, etc.  Acronyms are
> commonplace in our discipline and XMPP is not an anomaly however ugly it
> might look.  I can't see XMPP taking off on a much wider audience 
> however--which is the goal of the JSF.

HTML and XML are "technical" terms, but it hasn't exactly prevented 
every business person and many people on the street from knowing and 
understanding what they mean. Besides, it's not as if we are inventing a 
new word for the entire concept. It's called "Instant Messaging" and 
that's what it will always be. Now, there also needs to be a name for 
particular protocols. The protocol that we all care about is already 
officially named XMPP. So, the point we're discussing is whether there 
is any benefit to also referring to it as "Jabber" instead of XMPP.

> On the other hand, "Jabber" was born for a broad audience.  Both users and
> technical people alike feel comfortable talking about Jabber, just as they
> might feel comfortable talking about "email" or the "web". 

I don't think this is true. The broader term is "Instant Messaging" not 
"Jabber". Nobody will ever say, "Hey Sally, I'll jabber you when I get 

The "broad audience" we need to appeal to is those that will use and 
implement the protocol. I think compelling arguments have been made that 
those implementing the protocol (especially commercial people) only want 
to use the term XMPP. My kid brother who uses AIM to chat with his 
friends is not someone that the JSF is trying to reach. The executive at 
AOL who might someday be forced to choose an open protocol for their IM 
network is.

> It's a
> friendly, well chosen term.  It would be foolish to blanket the world with 
> XMPP when it already has Jabber. 

Yes, the world already has Jabber and associates the term with a 
commercial company. This is the point of confusion that I and others 
have brought up. XMPP needs to be the term that we brand as "an open IM 

> Also note that Jabber encompasses more 
> than XMPP: it's a fuzzy conceptual class, just as "email" and "web", and 
> this is not a weakness, but its strength.

I don't see anything fuzzy. Arguably, the JSF creates additional 
standards on top of XMPP that won't get ratified by the IETF. However, 
there is no inherent reason that these extensions should be known as 
"Jabber". In fact, that just seems more confusing to me. I'd rather call 
it "community extensions on top of XMPP".

> As far as the Jabber.com trademark issue, I believe lawyers would classify
> "jabber" as a weak trademark, as it's both a dictionary word and a trade
> word before the company existed (I believe).  While officially they
> (Jabber.com) may own the trademark, what really matters is
> defendability--and if pressed, it's unclear to this observer at least if
> they would retain that mark. 

This is true, but it doesn't matter. No commercial entity wants to use 
the term Jabber because there is another commercial company that is 
already using it and that has established a solid brand around it.

> Contrast this to "Kodak"  which is
> considered a strong trademark. ... of course this is no reason to view 
> jabber.com as adversaries--I see them as partners advocating "jabber".  
> (perhaps lowercase j for the general term?)

Yes, Jabber Inc is a strong partner and player in creating the open IM 
standard XMPP. However, no company wants to "partner" with them in 
promoting Jabber as a brand.

For example, we have a commercial XMPP server that appeals to certain 
vertical markets (places where the Jabber Inc. solution wouldn't work at 
all). However, just because of the Jabber protocol/product confusion, 
I've had a customer ask, "Wait, this is based on Jabber, right? Why 
wouldn't I be using the server from Jabber Inc. then?"

> It's great that we are having this discussion, because I believe it gets
> at the ultimate point of the JSF: to promote the path from XMPP -> Jabber
> --to advance an idea from technical possibility to socially impactful
> reality.  Jabber may have started out as "open IM", but it has the
> potential to move far beyond that, to be a term that encompasses a class 
> of technologies that are a hybrid of synchronous and asynchronous 
> communications like the world has never seen before.

Heh, perhaps you're right, although I have no idea how XMPP will ever 
have anything to do with asynchronous communication. Email has that 
covered pretty well. :) I'm firmly of the opinion that "Jabber" will 
never supersede the term "Instant Messaging", though.

I think the discussion should be focused on the terminoloy that the JSF 
uses to promote the protocol, as expressed through the name of the 


More information about the Members mailing list