RealTime IT News

Google IM Not Talking to Other Jabbers

Google's much anticipated open standards-based IM client has launched, but apparently without support for interconnecting with other users on non-Google, open-source Jabber servers.

The beta version of the IM service, called Google Talk, uses the Jabber XMPP protocol, which is supposed to allow for easy interoperability between other Jabber XMPP servers and users.

In fact, the Google Talk FAQ includes a discussion of how to add a Google Talk account to popular IM clients (that also support the Jabber protocol) including GAIM and Trillian.

The apparent problem, however, is that despite the veneer of interoperability, non-Google Talk Jabber server users have had trouble connecting with Google Talk users and vice versa, according to users and during a test run by internetnews.com.

The Google Talk client itself does not currently have the ability to add a user from an outside jabber network yet either. Jabber clients logged into Google's XMPP server (i.e., GAIM or Trillian) can however talk to each other, but only with other users on the Google server.

Though Google Talk is still a beta offering, Google Talk users have been lighting up discussion groups about the apparent omission of the Jabber-to-Jabber interoperability.

At least two threads on the topic have already appeared . Other groups are discussing under a thread titled "Connect to another XMPP/Jabber server don't work."

Some have speculated that non-Google Talk to Jabber server connections are not working due to the fact that (as stated in the Google Talk FAQ), "DNS SRV records are not configured for the service at this time." DNS SRV records are resources that indicate how to find services for various protocols.

Peter St. Andre, executive director of the Jabber Software Foundation, said technically speaking it's not a matter of DNS SRV records.

"It's the fact that they have not yet enabled server-to-server functionality, which has been a standard part of Jabber/XMPP technologies since 1999," St. Andre told internetnews.com. "However, they've just launched the service and they've said that they're committed to federating with other providers of XMPP-based services. So I think over time we'll see Google Talk connect to other servers on the open Jabber network."

St. Andre noted that other than on the Jabber network, federation is unheard of in the IM world.

"As far as I can see, there is no technical reason for the lack of server-to-server functionality at this time, my sense is that it's been a business decision on Google's part to take a deliberate approach to IM federation," St. Andre added.

Regardless of the current lack of server to server communications, St. Andre views the Google Talk as a milestone in the continuing progression of Jabber/XMPP technologies.

"What started with a small open-source project in 1999 has now been approved by the IETF as a standard protocol for Internet communications and adopted by the likes of Apple, Sun, HP, Oracle, BellSouth, FedEx, France Telecom, most of the Wall Street investment banks, numerous U.S. Government agencies, and now Google," St. Andre said.

"It seems clear that Google Talk will give a further boost to adoption of Jabber/XMPP technologies."

A Google spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.