[standards-jig] Avatars

Rachel Blackman rcb at ceruleanstudios.com
Tue May 6 16:24:18 UTC 2003

>  I see the 'but I have implemented it already' argument frequently. On
> the one hand we have people who say: "if it's experimental and you
> implement: sorry for you". On the other hand we have client developers
> who feel ignored because their implementation doesn't count. There are
> also some political issues which I don't want to get into.
>  If the client developers wouldn't have used the jabber:x:avatar
> namespace in their implementations, it would be no problem to totally
> rewrite this JEP. They could have used 'myclientname:x:avatar' for as
> long as the JEP was not 'draft'. If the JEP would then be totally
> rewritten, at least their implementation doesn't break down.

To play devil's advocate for a moment here, look at it from the other side.
You have client authors who, in many cases, are dealing with people coming
from the AIM, Yahoo, etc. world.  While programs like Exodus are quite
technically sound, if I tried to get my MSN-using parents onto Jabber
they'd not be able to wrap their heads around it.  They want something that
looks like MSN or AIM.  They'd do much better with, say, Rival Messenger.

And avatars are a big feature users always ask for; as soon as one client
implements them, users hear about it and begin asking for it.  I know my
choice not to support sending avatars using JEP-0008 in Trillian is not
going to be a popular one; I'm already expecting lots of unhappy 'but
JAJC/Rival/GAIM/whatever does avatars!' comments, and I don't honestly
think 'it's a deferred and deprecated experimental standard, there'll be a
new avatar system coming soon' is going to entirely cut it with the users.
I'll cope, but... :)

The avatar JEP has been available for close to two years, having been
initially put up September 14, 2001.  That is two years in which time
client authors looking to get people from the legacy IM networks onto
Jabber have been trying to implement features; avatars, formatted text and
file transfer are the three big ones AIM sorts will be asking for.

To finish the devil's advocate soapbox... if the avatar JEP was never
intended to last or be implemented in that form, and if it's considered
'bad' to implement the experimental protocol extensions... then why was the
avatar JEP published and left out there for two years in the first place? :)

Experimental JEPs are useful because they provide discussion on
implementation.  However, leaving a JEP for a widely-desirable feature in
'experimental' for two years and then yanking it and saying 'well, they
should have known better than to implement it'... it's not going to be a
popular move to begin with.

Just my $0.02. :)

> Somehow, we need to make it even more clear to developers to not put code
> based on experimental JEPs in software meant for widespread use. I can
> imagine a big red warning at the top of JEPs. Maybe it is a good idea to
> have early implementers use a different namespace as long as the JEP is
> not in, say, Call for Experience phase, or even draft.

The differing namespace almost makes sense.  Call it 'jabber:jep:<jep>'
while it's experimental; when the protocol is finalized, they move it to
the normal namespace. :)

Rachel Blackman <rcb at ceruleanstudios.com>
Trillian Messenger - http://www.trillian.cc/
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