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Jabber Update

Posted on 13 June 2007 by David Chisnall

There have been lots of changes in the Jabber code recently. The GNUstep version has had a bit of extra hacking to work around some GNUstep bugs (I'm going to have to have a serious look at the GNUstep implementation of NSOutlineView over the summer), and Jesse and I have been working on integrating µblogging and Jabber.

First, a quick introduction to the Jabber code. The /Services/User/Jabber directory in trunk contains an application, StepChat, and two frameworks. One of these handles XML parsing, the other handles XMPP. The application is a thin wrapper around the XMPP framework. Currently it works on OS X and GNUstep (although there are some GNUstep-related bugs remaining). Eventually, the code will diverge into two branches, one taking on Étoilé-specific features, the other remaining a stand-alone application for OS X and GNUstep-without-Étoilé users.

The framework uses a 'people' and 'identities' abstraction that is likely to show up in other parts of Étoilé. It understands that a person can have multiple identities (e.g. a work Jabber ID, a home Jabber ID, and an MSN Messenger account) and treats the person as the important one. When you have a conversation, it is with a person. You can swap between talking to any of the person's identities transparently. If you have a conversation active then it will automatically pick the most relevant identity to talk to, so if a person moves from one machine logged in with one account to another logged in with another (or the same account with a different resource) then it will switch over to the correct one automatically. It maintains the same abstraction in the roster, which has a three-tier hierarchy of groups, people and identities. Of course, if you want to talk to a specific identity, you still can.

On to the µblogging stuff, Jesse has been playing with a Jaiku µblog recently. Since µblog entires are very similar to status messages in an IM application, it made sense to try integrating them. A couple of changes were made to StepChat for this. First, a new status message UI was created, adding a text field to the roster so it's easy to set a message (the old UI was a quick hack), and a 'presence log' UI was added to give an aggregated view of messages set by others. Next, the presence code was modified to send a distributed notification whenever the presence was updated.

Jesse and I put together an example tool which makes use of ththis and pushes updated presences out to Jaiku. Now, when you set your presence in StepChat, it will set your presence and push it out to Jaiku. Anyone who wants to bother could add support for Twitter fairly easily too.