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2007
Matt Tucker

Eating Our Own Dog Food

Posted by Matt Tucker Champion May 30, 2007

We (Jive Software) launched Clearspace X just about one month ago, our external community software product that combines discussions, wiki documents and blogging. [As an aside, we provide free Clearspace X licenses to Open Source projects.] So, why aren't we using it here on igniterealtime.org yet? There's lots of good excuses, but we've been hard at work on the migration and it will happen soon. What will the change to Clearspace X mean?

  • The same discussions functionality we have with Jive Forums, but with an updated UI.

  • Migration of the blog engine to the Clearspace platform (this will be fairly transparent).

  • A rich new set of functionality around wiki documents. We're already planning lots of great content.

We're looking forward to the new features and to getting your feedback on them. I'll post more migration details in the forums soon.

 

You may remember me asking for everyone's help a few months back to vote for Openfire. We're entered in the Enterprise Open Source Reader???s Choice Award in the "Best Open Source Product" category. The deadline for voting is May 31, which is just one week away. If you haven't already voted, please visit the site to cast your vote. Note that the voting process started before the rename of the server, which is why you'll see the old Wildfire name.

 

The good news is that we're in the lead position with 198 votes. But other projects aren't far behind and I'd be thrilled to solidify our lead and hit at least 250 votes. Thanks for your help!

 

After this many years, most web developers have become a little numb to how much Microsoft Internet Explorer is holding back the web. We whine about it, we drop by Position Is Everything to find the appropriate hack to use, and we go about our business. Recently, working on SparkWeb has really brought the issue back into focus for me.

 

Shortly before SparkWeb 1.0 came out, we realized that it wasn't working in Internet Explorer 7... sometimes. There was no discernible pattern to the failures; some were on XP, some on Vista, some were one sub-version of 7, some were another. After a great deal of painstaking debugging I eventually tracked down the problem. XML support (and by extension the XMLHTTPRequest feature used in "ajax") in Internet Explorer is provided by a system library, rather than built directly into the application. This wouldn't be too bad, except different versions are installed on different systems. Currently MSXML3 and 6 are the best choices. 3 is incredibly widely deployed, and 6 is the latest and greatest. We chose 6... IE7 chose 3. Boom.

!http://www.igniterealtime.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/camembert.png!

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That issue is fixed now, but it reminded me again of just what we're missing. Here's a brief list of stuff that works in the big 3 (Mozilla, Safari, Opera), but not in IE6, and in many cases not in IE7:

  • position: fixed
    Useful for making navigation bars and such always available so users don't have to scroll back up to them. Also allows for things like Eric Meyer's beautiful ComplexSpiral design. This is fixed in IE7.

  • border-radius
    Part of the in-progress CSS3 specification, but still pretty well supported these days. It allows for painless rounded corners, without the crazy hacks we use now.

  • XHTML
    I'm slightly skeptical of the usefulness of this one, but it's a pretty big deal to some people. IE will not accept XHTML unless it's told that it's HTML instead of XML. This leads to pages that have subtle hard-to-find bugs when switched over to real XML parsing.

  • XMLHTTPRequest
    This one "works" in IE6, but only through ActiveX. If the user has ActiveX disabled (say, for security reasons, as Microsoft did in IE7) then it will stop working. This is fixed in IE7.

  • CSS child selectors
    Generally useful in all sorts of layouts

  • Translucent PNG images
    Again, hugely useful. There's a hack to allow them in IE6, but it can break a bunch of other things... as we found out when trying to use it in SparkWeb. Even in IE7 there are a number of nasty bugs involving this functionality.

  • :hover on anything other than links
    Useful for popup menus, button hover effects, tooltips, and any number of other things. This is fixed in IE7.

  • Modifying stylesheets via javascript
    Basically every major browser gets this one wrong in some ways. I've found it's best to just forget that the possibility exists and use inline styles instead.

  • SVG and canvas
    These are the shiny new ways of making complex images and animations on the web. Canvas is a simple javascript-driven system for drawing, and SVG is a complex vector image format based on XML that also supports animation and a number of other things.

This is just a selection of major issues, there are many many smaller issues, many issues that have slipped my mind, and many places where IE isn't the only browser messing up. Microsoft claims that they will be making a big push to catch up on compliance with modern web standards in Internet Explorer 8. Even if that's true though, the legacy of stagnation from five years of IE6 will be difficult and time consuming to overcome.

 

However, there is some hope; People like Dean Edwards, Jack Slocum, the Prototype team, and many others are building libraries to work around browser issues and provide a common platform to build web applications on. Also, the newly re-formed HTML working group is pushing forward towards HTML5 with some wonderful people involved, including key participants from Apple, Google, Opera, Microsoft, and Mozilla. Unlike previous web standards efforts, the HTML process is open to anyone who's interested. Ian Hickson has instructions on joining the process here

 

Have you made your reservations to attend XMPP DevCon and the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) this July in Portland, OR? It may seem a bit early to be thinking about conferences in late July, but hotels will fill up quickly in Portland with so many events converging around OSCON (July 23-27). Not only are we planning DevCon for July 23-24, but Ubuntu Live will also be in town July 22-24.

 

Roughly twice a year, the XMPP community holds a DevCon event to discuss protocol changes, do interop testing, and to socialize in real life. The last event was in Belgium along with Fosdem in February. The February meeting included discussions about certification programs, file transfer issues, Jingle, protocol developments, end to end encryption support (extensions), personal event pubsub, message archiving, and more.

 

Discussion topics for DevCon in July will likely include continued discussion on many of the topics above plus spim prevention, simultaneous XML editing (for whiteboarding etc.), clarifications to rfc3920bis, and more. Any developers working on XMPP servers, clients, code libraries, or related applications are welcome to attend. Since many of you in the Ignite Realtime community fit into this group, it would be great to see you attend DevCon.

 

Jive Software will, of course, be out in full force for XMPP DevCon and OSCON, since they are right in our hometown of Portland, OR. At OSCON, I will be on a panel discussing the Art of Community and Matt Tucker will be leading a session called Jingle: Cutting Edge Open Source VoIP.  Matt is also planning some cool stuff for DevCon. Last year during OSCON, we held a great party, BeerForge, and we plan to do something similar again this year!

 

 

We hope to see many Ignite Realtime community members at these events! It is a great way to meet some of the people face to face that we collaborate with over email, IM, and other online environments.

Matt Tucker

XMPP Server Popularity

Posted by Matt Tucker Champion May 3, 2007

I don't usually get annoyed by other blog entries in the XMPP blogosphere, but this one got my goat a bit: the claim that ejabberd is the most popular XMPP server (according to ohloh). Not only that, but their previous blog entry crowed about passing the 120,000 download mark. So, I thought it was time to set the record straight:

  • Openfire is now the most popular XMPP server according to ohloh. Why the sudden change? Easy; I read the ohloh FAQ, which states that popularity is based on Yahoo page ranking. The Openfire project page on ohloh linked to a deep page in the ignite site (something that people would never link to). I simply copied ejabberd and made the page link be the main website. Sure enough, we're now the top server listing.

  • Openfire just passed 827,753 downloads.

  • The igniterealtime.org discussion forums have 53,348 messages, compared to 4025 on the ejabberd site.

Anyway, my apologies for the pissing match, but we have to be willing to step up when directly called out. I do think it's a great thing that there seems to be such vitality in the XMPP world.

 

Late last week we (Jive Software) released version 1.1 of Clearspace, our commercial community and team collaboration product which includes blogging, discussions and wiki documents. As an aside, we offer free Clearspace licenses to Open Source projects and it's also free for teams of up to five people.

 

!http://www.igniterealtime.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/avatars.gif!This release builds on the Openfire integration that shipped with version 1.0. One great new feature is the ability to see real-time presence information for users (pictured on the right).

 

On the back-end, Clearspace connects to Openfire using the external component protocol, then is able to query for presence data using a set of[ ad-hoc commands|http://www.xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0050.html]. Although we're still polishing up a lot of things about the way the integration works, Clearspace serves as a great model for how a web application can leverage XMPP for presence and messaging.

 

The unification of Openfire and Clearspace is a trend you'll see us continue strongly for two reasons:

  1. Real-time features will be an important way that we differentiate Clearspace from competitors (the "secret sauce"). We believe it should be easy and seamless for a user to move between real-time and non real-time collaboration and have many innovative features planned to make that possible.

  2. Unification is an important way to leverage the Open Source investments we've made in Openfire and Spark. Yes, we still believe that a hybrid Open Source strategy is good for both business and the community (see our philosophy). One of our not so secret hopes is that our commitment to Open Source and open standards will be enough to convince you to try out Clearspace at your company as an alternative to Microsoft's clumsy Sharepoint product. Or, consider Clearspace as a replacement for the wiki that started with good intentions but quickly grew into an unmanageable rat's nest. You know it's gotten bad when the engineers are frustrated and the business folks won't touch it with a ten-foot pole.

Ok, enough advertising. But we're pretty proud of the release and it's hard for me to reign in my enthusiasm.

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