[Foundation] JSF == Jabber Standards Foundation?

Peter Saint-Andre stpeter at jabber.org
Fri May 23 12:00:38 CDT 2003

On Thu, May 22, 2003 at 10:58:36AM -0700, Harold E. Gottschalk Jr. wrote:

> I am against this change 200%.  
> My personal opinion is that we have not gotten the traction needed
> because we do not have a reference piece of software.  I would hope one
> day we move away from just this notion of being a standards organization
> and produce an piece of software that we are willing to stand behind.

And then the JSF will directly compete with all manner of companies who
are involved in the Jabber community. What's the point of that? IMHO, the
Jabber community has taken open-source to the next level by building an 
open protocol that encourages both open-source and commercial work. That
is a strength and something that sets us apart. Having the JSF become a 
software project like Apache would be a move in precisely the wrong
direction. What software do we develop? Servers? Clients? Libraries? For
which platforms? Not only don't I see that as core to the JSF's mission,
but I think it would be destructive of the community we've created.

> I am of the opinion that the reason it has been driven as a standard org
> is due to the fact of Jabber, Inc is selling Jabber software and not to
> take sales away from Jinc.  Jinc did create the foundation, Jinc
> personnel wrote and design the foundation not to compete with them.

I've heard a number of conspiracy theories over the last few years in
the Jabber community, but this one is new. Shall we review some history?
Jabber began in the innovative mind of Jeremie Miller, and he released
this idea into the world on January 4, 1999. Server and client projects
sprang up in the open-source community, and through a rapid design and
development process those projects developed a workable system for real
time communications based on XML streams. As part of that work, the core
team developed a wire protocol for streaming XML, mainly for the purpose
of instant messaging and presence. (Note: this was all before JINC was 
founded in the spring of 2000.) In the early days, the open-source
server was called "the Jabber server" and when people referred to Jabber
they were referring to that server. However, it was never Jeremie's
intention to prevent others from writing Jabber servers. Over time we
have worked to decouple that particular implementation from the concept
of Jabber in general, which is why it was renamed jabberd (hey, it's not
that different, but it is different -- I still like the "Jabelin" name
we were kicking around). At the same time, the Jabber community was
getting bigger and bigger, and we found that we needed a public process
for adding to and extending the wire protocol. We did not want JINC to
effectively fork or control the protocol, which is why we set up the
foundation (with much input from jer, temas, dizzyd, me, pgm, etc.). 
JINC provided the initiative and money to create the JSF. Why? Because
it recognized that we needed to have a public, objective process for
managing the protocol, and not have JINC do one extension, Tipic some
other extension, and Antepo a third. That would have led to serious
problems of interoperability, which would have been evil. So JINC
decided to do the right thing by opening up the process and funding a
forum for working on the protocol, standardizing usage, developing
compliance tests, and so on. By the way, focusing on the protocol also
has given space to competitors of JINC to create software that complies
with the protocol. Personally, I think this has worked out great. We now
have companies like Antepo, Tipic, Jive Software, Winfessor, Movial,
mov, and many others developing software in a dynamic community that
contains both open-source projects and commercial software developers.
The Jabber community is not for open-source bigots, because we are open
to code that is public and code that is private. This is part of the
strength of the Jabber community. Making the JSF into a true software
project a la Apache would mean that those commercial entities would no
longer be welcome -- why they fund their own competition? It's true that
JINC could not justify funding its own competition (could you justify
that to your company's Board?), but it's also true that managing the
protocol in an open fashion has opened the door to the involvement and
contributions of many companies, not just one. It just happens that JINC
was first. That's the landscape in which we find ourselves. I hate to
break it to you, but that's one of the brutal realities of doing
business in the Jabber community. No one is forcing you or anyone else
to work in this niche. Would it be nice if JINC were called something
else? Sure it would. Have I made that argument before? Sure I have. Is
that brutal reality likely to change anytime soon? No. Reality is not
always the way we would like it to be. I'm sorry.

> They had the right to create what they wanted, but now it is our choice
> to continue down that road or not.  I would prefer to not go down that
> road at all!  The board is still made up of a majority of individuals
> that have worked or are working for Jabber Inc.

And two of those individuals were "let go" in ways that probably give
them (more than you or anyone else on this list) an axe to grind. The
fact is that the current Board was democratically elected by the members
of the corporation. If you don't like the make-up of the current Board,
run for election again next year on the platform of eliminating JINC
employees or former employees from the Board. Maybe you and your slate 
will get elected and then you can remove this pernicious influence from 
our midst.


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