XSF elections evidence of web-friendly trend

We made the RealtimeConf, in large part, to bring the Web and XMPP communities together. This year, we've seen huge strides in these two communities coming together. Most recently Lance Stout (an &yet team member), and Philipp Hancke were elected into the XMPP Standards Foundation (XSF) Council. This council is the five people in charge of approving extensions to XMPP. It is encouraging to see two people who have been contributing to XMPP tools for the web elected to this council.

Mike "Bear" Taylor (another &yet team member) was also re-elected to the board, which has been making the advantages of XMPP clear to developers over the years. But XMPP has always been a tough-sell for web developers.

JavaScript is ill-equipped to deal with streaming XML. Additionally, modern development tends to use language data structures (namely JSON) for APIs, databases, and protocols. As such, web developers have a difficult time dealing with XMPP, finding XML stanzas to be archaic.

Web developers are a pragmatic bunch, preferring simple interfaces rather than difficult-to-implement interfaces, regardless of additional benefits. Due to this, the XMPP community has changed their attitude and tactics. They used to try and convince web developers to use XMPP whereas now they are bringing XMPP to web developers with more web-friendly interfaces.

Lance Stout and Lloyd Watkin have independently brought us libraries for higher level JSON APIs and modern WebSockets for XMPP. These competing efforts are Stanza.io and XMPP-FTW. Along with Lance's efforts on the XMPP over WebSockets standard, this helps bridge the gap to XMPP.

In response to the XMPP communities attitude change, the web community has responded in kind. Nowhere was this more clear than at this year's RealtimeConf and WebRTC Camp in Portland, OR. Federation was the main theme of RealtimeConf, and WebRTC (video calling and data peering for the web) was the new hot technology. It quickly became clear that XMPP's Jingle was the perfect way to federate WebRTC.

Lance Stout and Philipp Hancke presented Jingle calls working between Lance's Stanza.io and Philipp's Strophe-Jingle. Combining a new simple JSON API to XMPP, XMPP's powerful Jingle extension, and WebRTC, it became immediately clear to those who attended that federated peering had arrived to the web.

The XSF and community have been busy on other efforts as well.

  • Peter-Saint Andre has written a manifesto for making the XMPP network a TLS secure-only network.
  • The new xmpp.net site now has tests for verifying encryption.
  • New users will soon have an easier way to discover and register on public servers.
  • xmpp.org will be rebranding to focus on helping new developers.

XMPP brings strong identity, rosters and presence, capabilities negotiation, data-peering, and countless other capabilities with it. With these efforts, the capabilities of web applications take a huge leap forward.

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