From W3C Wiki

The JabberChickenEgg is a problem in technology migration, where lethargy, comfort and 'if it isn't (really) broke don't fix it' keep us trapped using broken-ish, ageing technology: we aspire to use Jabber, but stick to using InternetRelayChat (IRC).

In the case of RdfIG, this crops up when discussing possibility of migrating our real-time chat to take advantage of the wholesome XML flavoured goodness of Jabber, instead of the ancient but more widely used IRC networks, particularly the Freenode network that hosts #rdfig and dozens of other interesting, overlapping communities.

This is all a bit rough, I just wanted to capture something of the conversation that had started, and create a place for keeping notes on this... both the IRC/Jabber aspect and lessons learned re technology migration... --DanBri

So let's look at the Jabber / IRC case and #rdfig, and think about +/- of migration:

Reasons to seek something beyond IRC:

From IRC chat:

<danbri> I'd be interested in setting up an RDF/SW equiv to jdev@conference.jabber.org if we could gateway it 2-ways to #rdfig...
<qmacro> danbri: protocol grungy: yes; Jabber's is a lot cleaner, but the libraries for IRC pretty much hide all that, and well, because they're mature
<mortenf> at least until a significantly better alternative is offered.
<silvernerd> IIRC there was an IRC gateway on Jabber
<danbri> The reason I don't like IRC, most of all, is it dooms us to their being one chat world for geeks, another for our AIM/MSN/Yahoo-using friends and family...  
<mortenf> good point.
<danbri> So all the nifty bots etc people write, don't get to go mass audience.
* JibberJim doesn't tell friends and family about anything but IRC...
<mortenf> gateways could go a long way.
<qmacro> danbri: RDF/SW equiv: if I can help, let me know. Currently lacking tuits/time, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel this summer
<danbri> Thanks, I'll take you up on that next time I get the Jabber feeling! 

from #rdfig IRC 2003-04-19

Materials on Jabber

Other IRC gateways? (LinkMe)

Issues w/ gateways:

  • preserving / mapping individual IDs
  • stability / quality of service
  • ...

The Panopticon/Jabber experiment (and here) is one example (albeit trivial) of where an XML-frendly chat protocol shows potential. There's also a follow-up to the experiment here. (qmacro 2003-04-19, after a chat with danbri)


A different approach

One concept that needs to be looked at is the social side of things. Why do people continually stay on IRC, when for the most part, everyone agrees that Jabber is a superior protocol that offers many advantages? A likely reason for this is the long-term familiarity with IRC clients, which have had many years to mature, and just as many years to become entrenched in the methodology many users are accustomed to.

A project that aims to address that is Jig, which presents an IRC-server-like protocol gateway to the Jabber network. The idea is not to 'gateway' a client connection through, hashing protocols along the way, but to actually replace the IRCd server process with a server that proxies an IRC client connection into the Jabber network. This sticks with the Jabber protocol concept (always use the same protocol between client and server), while removing all inter-connection communication from the 'IRC' process. All communication, authentication, and packet passing happens through the Jabber network.

Many Jabber concepts map closely to IRC concepts - a private message, a username, a nickname, a 'chat room', etc. Things that don't map directly still need to be fleshed out (such as roster manipulation), but the project currently allows an IRC user running Xchat or ircII or the like to log into jabber and carry on conversations directly, all through the familiar IRC interface. The idea is that a user skeptical about switching to Jabber can simply open a new server connection in their existing IRC client, and partcipate in Jabber conversations, while still maintaining a presence in their old familiar IRC networks.

DanConnolly is at IETF 62, where XMPP is the norm for text chat. An earlier search for OS X jabber clients (LinkMe) led me to Adium. Ironically, the Adium developers use IRC to collaborate, but they don't support IRC in Adium, "IM for the rest of us." "IRC and instant messaging are very different paradigms," says the Adium X: IRC Howto. Somebody in the #adium channel referred me to Paste number 6304: IRC issues. hmm... this note probably belongs in my blog, using this topic as a tag or something...