Walled Gardens Response
Sander recently wrote about Facebook’s announcement that they would be exposing their new chat features via XMPP over at the Cocinella blog. I’m very happy to hear that another large company is planning to support open standards, and I completely agree with Sander that we should avoid walled gardens. However, I did have some comments on other parts of his post.
Regarding Digby and Adium adding proprietary Facebook chat support, Sander wrote
Both applications already support the open instant messaging standard XMPP since long. This means that these projects would have had support for Facebook Chat anyway if they just had a bit more patience.
I wonder if this is really true. If Facebook was so interested in XMPP, why didn’t they start with that? Surely it’s easier to start with XMPP than to write something else and then create a gateway. Perhaps they had no intention of an open garden, but later relented after they saw the cat was out of the bag with several clients getting Facebook chat support so quickly. Maybe we have these client authors to thank for this announcement?
I wonder how frustrated these developers currently are, now that they know that their brand fresh code will become obsolete even before it gets in a stable release.
This is a real concern. I hope they aren’t so frustrated that they don’t bother making the new XMPP based Facebook chat nicely integrated. It would be terrible if people continued to use the proprietary protocol when an open one is available. Maybe Facebook will shut off the wall garden once the XMPP support is in place. I definitely wouldn’t want to support two protocols.
Sander suggests using XMPP transports instead for access to proprietary networks. He’s written about it seperately as well.
Transports have several strategic advantages over native client support
While this is true, I think current transports lack in a lot of areas, and certainly I have not seen an XMPP client that has as nice an implementation of transports and transport set up as the multi protocol clients have for their proprietary networks. I think everyone agrees that the XMPP technology is better, but so far the developers (myself included) have not yet made this a win for users.
So let’s welcome Facebook into our community of open instant messaging standards, and let’s continue to improve the transports and the support for transports in the clients to lure those poor users living in the walled gardens.
Filed under: jabber, xmpp | 3 Comments