Clearly the convergence of Embedded Linux, XML and Instant Messaging is High Concept stuff. We'd like to be more technical about it, but this is one of those stories where getting highly technical risks missing the big picture.
The man doing more than anybody else to draw that picture is Jabber's own Linus, Jeremie.
Jeremie Miller (who, in the manner of Madonna and Liberace, operates mostly on a first-name basis). Like Linus, Jeremie comes across as highly grounded and sober, as well as smart and enthusiastic about his work.
Just before we wrapped this story, Microsoft went public with its .Net concept. Part of that concept involved two XML developments—XML/RPC and SOAP. A high-profile co-developer of both (Dave Winer of Userland) was already out there trying to make sense of it all. So I solicited Jeremie's opinion on the whole thing.
“My take is that this is a strategy to collapse (excuse me, integrate) XML into a Microsoft desktop”, I wrote. “And that (so far) its scope is x86 clients and servers and not much more. Thoughts?”
Jeremie wrote back:
I didn't have many thoughts, until all of a sudden I realized that we have the same shared vision :) Instead of sleeping, I attempted to summarize my thoughts in an article at: http://jabber.org/news.html but it didn't turn out like I wanted, probably related to the fact that the sun is now rising...It does summarize my thoughts on this topic though, and really excites me as to the possibilities in this future XML-connected world that we're all helping create.If this doesn't paint the picture, nothing can.
Posted by Jeremie on Jun 23, 2000—to http://jabber.org/news.html
I've just had a clear vision of what we're all striving for, but I'm fumbling for words to describe it, so bear with me as I try to summarize the common goals we're all working towards.
Microsoft just announced a major shift in strategy, which prompted a few questions as to the impact on Jabber (both being a dynamic XML “engine”). I didn't give it much thought, but as I started absorbing the news and the comments from Dave it really hit home, in particular these quotes:
“Storage is out in the cloud. The cloud understands, it's richer, it indexes things, it's based on database technology, it's the XML store. Think about the Windows clipboard.”
“.NET building blocks, Identity, notification, messaging, personalization, XML storage, calendar, directory and search, software delivery. These are their toolkits.”
“WOW!” my mind raced, this is exactly the vision I've been striving for in Jabber for the last two years! In the minutes following, all of the diverse puzzle pieces started to fall into place: this new .net strategy by Microsoft, XML-RPC, and Jabber.
The Web has been a whirlwind of human social and technical evolution, forever altering the path of human-kind by simply enabling people to access content in a new way. There is natural corollary to this evolution, enabling software to access content, and that is where this vision begins.
Building Web-based applications can only go so far, there is a limit to the usefulness of intelligent interactive content. Enter XML. XML has created another opportunity, opening the eyes and hearts of geeks everywhere: let the content understand itself, and let the software understand the environment and intelligently manage the content. This trend would happen eventually, but XML has driven it to a new pace.
Still hasn't clicked? I'll try to summarize...We're building a new Web, one where content is structured in a way that software can understand, then this diverse structured content is managed by intelligent software in an accessible cloud, and then this cloud is accessed by software capable of customizing the content to the environment at hand.
Jabber approaches this problem from the presence and messaging angle, you have diverse conversational and awareness content in the form of Instant Messaging, buddy lists, e-mail, chat, games, and so on. Jabber structures all of this diverse content in XML, and intelligently manages it in a cloud that is easily accessible with lightweight custom clients or software requiring enhanced presence/IM features.
Microsoft's .net (utilizing XML technologies like SOAP/XML-RPC) seeks to achieve the same goals, but instead with application content, utilizing the underlying OS as the cloud managing the diverse application content and building flexible interfaces on top of the OS and other devices.
This is a validation of this model and already shows signs of becoming the next major Internet paradigm shift. Also, this is an opportunity for collaboration. We've been architecting Jabber in the open-source world for as long as Microsoft has been architecting their .net announcement; there is a lot of synergy that can become of this shared vision. We're busy adding HTTP, XML-RPC/SOAP, WebDAV, and other standard methods of access to the Jabber cloud, and are ready to position Jabber as an open-source project that shares content, routes data, and acts as a cloud for alternate services and operating environments (similarly to how Dave is positioning Frontier and its evolution into this model). I'm looking forward to working with the .net technologies, and collaborating by building standard tools, formats, and methods of access.
We're well on our way to a newer, smarter Internet, and I welcome you all to join us :)