jabber s2s

So, check it out, Google Talk has opened s2s to the rest of the Internet.

This probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, but for me it’s huge. (Because I am a huge nerd.)

To understand why this is so awesome, it will help if I explain a bit. Jabber/XMPP is an open standard for an instant messaging protocol. Just like there is SMTP for E-mail, HTTP for the Web, etc., so too, say the Jabber advocates, should there be XMPP for Instant Messaging. It’s an open, secure, flexible, totally awesome alternative to the propietary IM networks like AIM, MSN, Yahoo, etc. If you’re tired of having to constantly add a billion different networks in your multi-protocol client just to talk to all your friends, you should really be looking forward to Jabber. It doesn’t make sense for IM to be something that requires talking over closed, proprietary networks. To wrap your brain around how silly this is, imagine that you went to gmail.com and got your nifty new gmail.com e-mail address. But then you found out that you could only e-mail other people on gmail.com. Pretty silly, right? Why do we put up with it in the world of IM? Well, Jabber/XMPP offered an alternative, but no one was listening.

I kvetched, bitched and moaned about Jabber/XMPP advocacy, and despite my constant whining, no one ever seemed to interested in Jabber. The reasons for its stagnancy were much debated, and a big part of the consensus was that it just wasn’t being adopted by enough Big Organizations.

So, cut to last summer: there were rumors flying that Google (a very Big Organization), flush with IPO cash, was going to launch a new IM service. Google-zealots frothed at the mouth, but those of us that knew better just moaned and groaned: “Oh geez, not another lame proprietary IM network.”

Then, in August, Google shocked us all by opening up their IM servers for Google Talk, complete with full XMPP support. This was a thrilling discovery, but it was quickly tempered by the fact that Google hadn’t enabled s2s – that is, you could use a Jabber client to talk to Google Talk, but you couldn’t talk to other Jabber users on any other servers – which, frankly, didn’t make much sense.

Thankfully, Google has again surprised me, and opened up their servers for s2s. I can now let loose the nerdy celebratory cry of joy I had been cautiously withholding until now. I think this will prove to be a huge shot in the arm for Jabber/XMPP adoption, and the beginning of the end of annoying, bloated, proprietary IM networks. Hallelujah.

So what does this mean for you? Well, maybe nothing. If you’ve got a gmail account, you may want to grab Google Talk, or any other Jabber client and start using it. You can then use it to talk to not only anyone on Google Talk, but anyone else in the world using Jabber.

For example, me: [email protected].

Kudos to Google for doing the right thing. Happy instant messaging.