Monday, May 08, 2006

The state of Jingle

It has been some time since the first announcements of the Jingle specification by the Jabber Software Foundation. The announcement has originally stirred a number of positive reactions from the XMPP clients software developers. It was then perceived as an indication of a real effort to bring multimedia support into the XMPP realm.

Time has passed since this early interest, and the specification pace has been rather slow. On the client development front, only the Psi team have got their bells jingling which I consider an achievement in view of the current state of the specification. On the server side, interest has only been expressed by a few projects such as Freeswitch and Asterisk but as additional connectivity to their existing PBX frameworks.

I would not call this a wide endorsement for such a fundamental enhancement… I am intentionally leaving aside the GTalk. It is certainly a valuable product, but I do not consider it to be representative of Jingle. This is true of any prototype, and it has well played its role as a proof of concept. In fact, in its current state GTalk is nothing but another proprietary VOIP implementation.

The current state of Jingle seems to leave a certain feeling of unease amongst those trying to put Jingle to use, not to mention creating an Internet wide multimedia session signaling. Jingle has all the technical values to become a widely used multimedia signaling protocol on the Internet. But the context in which it is evolving appears to be imitating the initiatives. Beyond the natural divide between the telephone world and the application world, which does not facilitate developers community exchange, there is the perception that Jingle has been only thought of as a client to client protocol... As I said earlier, the origin of Jingle has been to turn the GTalk protocol into a standard for all. This is an heavy inheritance and a likely explanation why Jingle is often only perceived as a P2P model. On the contrary, Jingle is a generic way to negotiate communication sessions and media relationship between participant in a conversation space.

Taken from that angle, Jingle is an extremely simple and powerful way to negotiate how one intend to participate to these conversation spaces. And XMPP provides all the pieces necessary to scale this to the Internet.

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