[Foundation] JSF == Jabber Standards Foundation?

Peter Saint-Andre stpeter at jabber.org
Thu May 22 18:07:00 CDT 2003

Matt Tucker wrote:

> Tony,
> Perhaps you could address my specific rebuttals to Matt's points?

Happy to oblige. You assert:

> 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.

There damn sure is. Several points:

1. We've been building mindshare around the term "jabber" since 1999. I
   see no compelling reason to throw that away.

2. Jabber is not co-equal with IM. Jabber is about streaming XML. We're 
   using XML streams for IM, but we already know it can do a lot more
   than IM.

3. XMPP is essentially owned by the IETF's XMPP WG. As the person who is
   on the front lines of the Jabber community's standards efforts in the
   IETF, I can tell you that there is no way we want to send every one
   of our protocols through the IETF process. While that process is and
   has been benefecial for the core protocol, there is absolutely no
   justification for sending every one of our protocols through the
   IETF. If you think that is the best course of action, I cordially
   invite you to initiate the charter change for the XMPP WG and take
   over writing Internet-Drafts. Warning: it is not a day at the beach.

4. It is much more productive for the Jabber community to develop its
   own protocols on top of the XMPP core (you could argue that even the
   XMPP IM Internet-Draft would have been better to keep out of the IETF
   process, since it's an application protocol built on top of our data
   transport layer, but that wasn't possible for various reasons). This
   gives us great freedom to innovate (take that, Microsoft!) without
   being beholden to the slower pace of IETF work.

> >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 
> home".

You are wrong. I hear it all the time from the 1,000 or so people in my

> 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.

So they'll call it XMPP.

> >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 
> protocol".

You assert, you do not offer arguments. 

As Matt Mankins points out, the term "jabber" is probably only weakly
defensible (personally I would not want to have to defend it). While
some journalists and others seems to associate the term with one
company, that means (1) journalists are not very smart, (2) we have not
done a great job of getting our story out, and (3) the Jabber community
is still growing beyond its beginnings when only one commercial entity
was involved. Those facts do not provide an argument that "XMPP needs to
be the term that we brand". And again, Jabber is more than 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.

That is false. Maybe some commercial entities don't want to use the term
Jabber, but it's false to say that none do.

I agree that in an ideal world, Jabber.com (yes, that was the original
name back in early 2000) would have chosen a different name. Personally
I think it would be great if we could say:

"Jabber is like the Linux of instant messaging, and LoDo is like the
RedHat of Jabber" (where "LoDo" is my fictitious name for Jabber Inc.)

Unfortunately we can't say that right now. Maybe someday we'll be able

> >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?"

Sounds like you need to educate your customers.

> >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.

No one is saying that Jabber will supersede IM (as in, no one uses the 
term IM anymore and they just use Jabber). Obviously it's too late for 
that. However, based on the number of non-IM applications of the Jabber
protocol, I think it's safe to say that Jabber is more than merely IM.

> 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 
> organization.

That's why Jabber Standards Foundation is such a good name.

Jabber is to XMPP as the Web is to HTTP.

How hard is that?


Peter Saint-Andre
Jabber Software Foundation

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