[Standards] XEP-0394: too weak to replace XEP-0071 - colouring

Denver Gingerich denver at ossguy.com
Sat Mar 17 23:24:14 UTC 2018

On Sat, Mar 17, 2018 at 08:33:54PM +0000, Tedd Sterr wrote:
> In search of clarity, here are all of the reasons against that I can think of, and replies to those. Please correct me if I've misunderstood anything; and additional sensible reasons are also welcome.

At the risk of further drawing this out, I want to outline a possible additional issue that may have been hinted at in previous posts, but as far as I can tell hasn't been stated explicitly:

8. "People whose clients support colouring are confused when recipients don't see their colours"

This may be largely an issue of how far we wish to cater to users' expectations, especially users new to XMPP who have primarily used proprietary chat applications in the past (which I suspect would be the vast majority).  I personally think this is an important consideration, but I'm ok if the general opinion disagrees with me.

With virtually all proprietary chat applications, "what you see is what you(/they) get" is effectively guaranteed.  But with XMPP, a sender using XEP-0071 or XEP-0394 definitely does not have that guarantee, and so they may be confused when they send a beautifully-coloured message that uses colours for emphasis and then later end up having to say something like, "didn't you see all the important points I highlighted in red?!"

This is further confounded by the UI that most XMPP clients have, where messages you send are displayed right next to messages you receive, which may suggest more strongly to the sender that the recipient sees the message as they do (unlike with email, where there is more space between messages and more of an understanding that clients differ than there is with chat applications).

I realize that this is very similar to issues one might have with HTML email (senders may assume receivers see their colours).  However, I think the issue is more severe in the case of chat for the above reasons.

I have already seen a couple instances of this problem with XEP-0071, but fortunately it is rarer than it might otherwise be since I happen to chat with few people whose clients support XEP-0071 (XHTML-IM).

I'd like to emphasize that I am generally very happy with the wide variety of XMPP clients and their widely differing sets of supported XEPs.  For example, XEP-0085 (Chat State Notifications) and XEP-0184 (Message Delivery Receipts) work great when one side has support and the other doesn't - they behave as you expect and the fallback is not confusing.  But I feel that with colouring, the "fallback" (no colours) is different - it is both unexpected and confusing for many existing XMPP users (and for the vast majority of prospective XMPP users).

To be clear, I'm not necessarily suggesting that we definitely disallow colouring for the above reason (though I would probably lean toward that (and thus XEP-0393) myself), but I want to ensure that we at least consider this issue, as I'm not sure it's been adequately discussed so far.


More information about the Standards mailing list