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2008

Most every day, the United States is impacted by high impact weather events.  These events range from hurricanes to tornadoes to winter storms. The National Weather Service (NWS) is tasked with forecasting and warning about these high impact events to save lives and protect property.  The process of alerting and mitigating these high impact events involves the close collaboration of partners in the broadcast media who are federally mandated to relay weather alerts to the public, and emergency management who organize and respond to weather threats. Historically, these groups have operated on islands during weather events with one way communication systems providing data.

 

Starting in 2000, some parts of the country started experimenting with Instant Messaging technologies to bridge these islands during high impact weather.  At the time, these involved the use of proprietary protocols and clients in an ad-hoc manner.  In 2005, a group of interested parties in Iowa started looking for a scalable, secure, and open source / standards system that could provide the level of flexibility necessary to support the real time collaboration of broadcast media, the NWS, and emergency management. This effort was called IEMChat.

 

After a perusal of IM technologies, IEMChat implemented XMPP and choose the Openfire server to power the project.  Openfire's ease of installation, functional administrative console, stability, and active support community has provided the foundation for the IEMChat project to flourish.  In a short 2 years, IEMChat's use has spread to over half of the country with 85+ NWS offices, 450+ broadcast media outlets, and hundreds of local emergency managers participating.  IEMChat has been put to use in recent high impact weather events such as the Super Tuesday tornado outbreak that ravaged the states of Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and other states.

 

Daryl Herzmann, IEMChat's primary developer who is based at Iowa State University,  says that Openfire has made the project possible. “Openfire provides us a robust and stable XMPP feature set supported by a fantastic community on Igniterealtime.org.  The developers' active support on the web forums and weekly chat has been outstanding and shown their commitment to improve Openfire to meet the needs of the community.”

 

A huge thank you to Daryl for all of his contributions to the Ignite Realtime community and for providing us with details about this great Openfire success story!

As it turns out, not long after hitting the 1,000,000 download mark on Openfire, we hit the 3,000,000 mark on the sum total of the Ignite Realtime products!

 

 

Many thanks to the community for your interest, involvement, and support!  Matt says it best in his post on Jive Talks, so I shall leave it at that.  =)  Guess it's time for more toasts to the Ignite Realtime community!  Thanks everyone!

We are pleased to announce the availability of Openfire 3.5.0 RC1 off of the beta downloads page, along with Openfire Enterprise 3.5.0 RC1 off of the beta plugins page.  The official release is slated for late March or early April, depending on when the official release date of Clearspace 2.0 is.  There are a number of new features and bug fixes in this release.  A couple of the highlights are as follows:

 

New Security Features

 

3.5.0 includes two new improvements to the overall security of Openfire.  One is a new lock out manager, which allows administrators to lock out (disable) accounts, thereby preventing them from logging in.  This can be for a period of time, or "forever".  Another new security feature is a new auditor for actions performed in the admin console.  This will allow you to keep track of what has changed in your server's configuration, and who performed the change.

 

For more information, see: Big Brother In 3.5.0

 

Invisibility

 

3.5.0 includes the ability to connect without sending an available presence.  This provides an easy means for being "invisible" to other XMPP users, and visible specifically to those you intend on speaking to.  This support needs to be built into clients or programs that you might be using to be of direct use, but the capabilities are now available!

 

For more information, see: Playing Casper in 3.5.0

 

Clearspace Integration Improvements

 

Clearspace 2.0 and Openfire 3.5.0 can now work together harmoniously to share users, groups, vcards, presence, and various other functionality.  Not only that, but Clearspace and Openfire will configure their integration in a semi-automatic mode, where you provide a minimal configuration of Openfire and Clearspace and they take care of the rest!  You will see a new option during initial setup where you can choose Clearspace integration that will lead you through the steps.  Please note that Clearspace 2.0 or higher is required for this integration to function properly!

 

For more information, see: Clearspace 2.0 Public Beta

 

Performance Improvements

 

A number of improvements have been made to the overall performance of Openfire in 3.5.0.  An important index was added to one of the database tables that improves roster loading speed by a large degree. The networking framework used for external component connections has also been replaced with MINA, drastically improving the performance of external component connections.

 

Fixed Double-Byte Character Problems

 

3.5.0 includes fixes for double-byte characters not being handled correctly.  This should solve a number of problems with messages that include chinese characters, or other double-byte character encodings.

 

SparkWeb Enhancements

 

SparkWeb 3.5.0 includes a number of reliability improvements, especially with http binding, and also improved support for MUC functionality, such as moderation controls (kick/ban/etc).

 

New Admin Console Look and Feel

 

3.5.0 sports a brand new look and feel for it's administrative console.  Those who have used Clearspace before will be familiar with it, as it's mirrored in concept and general look after Clearspace's administrative console.  The new menu layout is much less cluttered than before, and should involve a lot less scrolling down the page to find what you want.  Warning: Due to changes in the CSS files, and browsers wanting to hold onto CSS files for dear life in their caches, you will likely need to hit shift-reload on your browser when visiting the new admin console.

 

And more!

 

You can view the full changelog here.

You can view the updated documentation (javadocs et al) here.

Plugin updates required for Openfire 3.5.0 are available on the betaplugins page.

The specific plugins that need to be updated are:

  • IM Gateway

  • User Search

  • Enterprise

  • MOTD

  • SIP

 

Happy testing and please let us know of any issues you run into by posting in the  Openfire support forum!

 

Thanks!

-The Openfire Team

Our original release date for Openfire 3.5.0 was slated for this Thursday, March 6th.  However, it is important that this release be available alongside Clearspace 2.0, whose release date is slated for the end of March or early April.  As a result, we will be holding off the Openfire 3.5.0 release until it can be released at the same time as Clearspace 2.0.  We're very excited about the improvements in the ease of integration between Openfire and Clearspace, as well as the number of other new features and fixes coming in 3.5.0, and we believe it will be worth the wait!  =)  None-the-less, we apologize for the delay!

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