Thinking about Gateways
It’s been a little while since I thought much about my illustrious IM Gateway plugin for Openfire. My previous job kept me a tad too busy with other things for me to really have time for it, or be interested in spending my free time on it. Now, let me prefix this by saying I don’t have a lot of free time right now, and I may not for a while. That said, I had some time to step back and look at the IM Gateway plugin and think about some possibilities.
So first off, I don’t really know the state of the Py*t transports. Last I heard there was no one maintaining them really anymore. That is a shame as I was hoping to see them flourish outside my involvement. If that’s not true, then I certainly apologize — just know it’s because I haven’t kept up well. Regardless, I found that I prefer Java to Python for the most part anyway. So would I take those projects back if they were offered to me? Probably not to be frank.
But the IM Gateway plugin — The fact that it only works with Openfire I feel is a disservice to other server implementations, but overall it’s a very cool implementation that tackled some issues with external implementations. But if you need to restart the IM Gateway plugin, you have to take the server with it. Java seems to have a habit of being very plugin-able friendly but then easy to break things with it’s container. I’m seeing that with an application server I’m working with — it’s not hard for an app to break the application server.
So I began thinking about what core things the IM Gateway plugin does that the Pys did not. Primarily it revolves around direct internal access to user’s rosters so that things could trivially be kept in sync. Things being, nicknames, groups, actual rosters, etc. So pulling back I’m wondering how feasible it would be to do something like this:
1. Strip away the ties of the IM Gateway plugin to Openfire and make the implementation standalone
2. Take that stripped away part and turn it into a small “helper” plugin that works with the external gateway implementation to accomplish the same goals
3. Similarly, write a small “helper” plugin for ejabberd that does the same thing
4. What about other servers I don’t have interest/time to write helper plugins for? Well then the transports would act like any other external transport.
How would these helper plugins do their jobs? Well somehow they’d have to have open communication back and forth with the actual transports to manage rosters, maybe even intercept packets and munge them a bit. A little ugly but hey.
As you can probably tell, over the years I have never come up with some solution that could be formed into an XEP for all of this. At some level I continue to help that I’ll see the light through my experiments here, but I’m not holding my breath. In the meantime I’d like to see solid transports that work for everyone. Writing an ejabberd plugin would give me a real reason to learn erlang and really see what it can do.
Now, if you are someone who is excited about this concept, please understand that I don’t have a lot of time right now. I need to spend my free time on things that make me money for the time being and unless someone is dieing to sponsor this concept, I couldn’t put it ahead of other assorted things I am working on. That is not a beg for money, that is a statement of my situation and why I’m not diving into this “right now”.
I would love to hear feedback on this btw.