XMPP Is Future Direction for Whiteboarding

Whiteboarding is the ability to work on shared files on an on-screen “shared notebook” or “whiteboard.” Whiteboarding is available in many Web services; for example, it is a part of the WebEx Web conferencing system and in tools such as Microsoft NetMeeting.

The clear benefit to a standardized approach to whiteboarding is to enable distributed use without lock-in to a single vendor or service. Presence is an important underpinning to whiteboarding to enable two or more users to initiate whiteboarding. The Internet standard eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) has been the starting point of choice for all whiteboarding standardization work to date of which we are aware.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is widely considered to be the second component of standardized whiteboarding. SVG is XML-based, extensible, widely adopted, and standardized by the W3C.

An independent demonstration of SVG-based whiteboarding over XMPP is provided by a cross-platform client called Coccinella. This offers easy-to-use whiteboarding that will work with most XMPP servers; the key capabilities for whiteboarding are in the client. The ability to work independent of the server shows a key XMPP capability to carry generic payload. Coccinella is well worth trying for anyone who wants to investigate this area.

A major initiative on SVG-based whiteboarding over XMPP has been driven by the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), which has developed and is piloting a whiteboarding system. Transverse, the JFCOM XMPP client and whiteboarding application, is available for download here.

The JFCOM work is a major input to whiteboarding standardization by the XMPP Standards Foundation (XSF). The latest version of this specification is here.

This is one of several technical inputs, and there are a number of proposals. Most of these are based on SVG, and it seems very likely that the final standard or standards will be SVG-based. Another factor is Shared XML Editing (SXE), which is being standardized to enable multiple users to edit a single document. The requirements for SXE are described in XEP-0228. A key architectural decision for whiteboarding is whether to build it over SXE or as an independent whiteboarding specification.

Although there is not yet an agreed-upon final standard, it is clear that XMPP is the direction for standardized whiteboarding.

Steve Kille

One Comment

  1. Posted May 12, 2008 at 6:11 AM | Permalink

    Good to see XMPP being talked about at Ferris, there’s no doubt that it offers some really interesting possibilities around cloud computing and social networking. White boarding is good demonstration, so is Twitters use of XMPP.

  2. Unni
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 7:16 AM | Permalink

    Look at ichat, its jabber based but no standards based, but its truely good. It mayn be better if some people like implimenters of ichat write to standard than somebody imagine and write ( which happens in XMPP standard – never standards are made for industry needs). You may see conference, screen sharing etc with ichat.

  3. Posted November 5, 2009 at 6:05 PM | Permalink

    I bet that Google wave is prooving you’re right!

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