UI Modernization

XMPP is about 20 years old and it’s influences are largely 90’s messaging protocols like AIM/ICQ  and earlier standards like IRC.  As a result, many things that it does made sense in the 90s and to users in the 90s but seem completely out of place today.   For example, do people really use XMPP resources anymore? What about status messages?  What does being offline mean anymore?

I’ve been thinking about this more and more and have decided to start making some changes in Monal’s UI to bring it closer to what people expect today.  These changes may annoy older users of XMPP, but the truth is if the clients do not adapt to the times, it is going to be a niche that only enthusiasts use.

Things I am planning on doing that I hope others will do as well:

  1. Completely hiding resources. They will still exist but it will be set automatically.
  2. Remove status messages. Instead I will show the last message sent/received below the name in the contact list like iMessage does.
  3. Possibly ditch online/offline status.

4 thoughts on “UI Modernization”

  1. > “[…] do people really use XMPP resources anymore?”

    Yes. I’m less likely to message someone about work when they’re connected on their phone than when they’re on their work laptop. It provides information/context about people’s availability to chat.

    > “What about status messages?”

    I’ve not seen anyone use them for years.

    > “Remove status messages.”

    If someone changes their status while I’m in a chat with them, that status message should be displayed in the conversation view. This will maintain compatibility with people who use other clients to communicate. Also, if I open a new chat with someone, then display their status message in the chat. It’s not needed in the contact list, however.

    > “Possibly ditch online/offline status.”

    Please don’t. If someone is offline they won’t get my messages. It provides information about whether people are available to chat or not. This is used way more than status messages.

  2. Good points. Thanks.

    Twitter and Facebook have definitely taken over the role of status messages.

    I think I am going to suppress editing resources and status in the main app UI though. I’m hoping for fewer fields on the screen. I may hide it under an advanced screen.

  3. Please don’t ditch online/away/offline status (what is, or was, often called “presence”)!

    Our use of XMPP is completely within the context of a small business with more telecommuters than office employees. We use presence *heavily* to determine whether another employee is available for spur-of-the-moment discussions, either via text or just the plain old telephone. Our XMPP presence indicator is our means of feeling connected with each other during the normal workday — in fact I’d go so far as to say it is THE feature that creates our virtual office.

    I like the custom status message too, though I wouldn’t be quite as destroyed if it went away. I use it frequently to say things like “Just stepped out” or “Back after lunch” or “Working from the hotel” etc. so my co-workers have some sense of how available I’m likely to be and when. I don’t see any benefit in losing it.

    To see where business/team communication is going, Slack and things like it make far better comparisons than Apple iMessage, FB or Twitter. Those platforms are increasingly designed for monetizable social interactions with minimal personal/professional boundaries, but Slack focuses on making companies and teams more productive. Not surprisingly (to me anyway) Slack supports both presence and a status message!

    So, I’d say keep ’em if you possibly can.

  4. Bill, you make a good point about slack. I’ve been looking to model the revamped group chat features more on slack iMessage. There are XEPs to do some of the fun slack things like editing recent messages that will make group chat more useful.
    I guess everything other than resources will stick around for now. 🙂

    Resources seem to be so dead that it is recommended in several specs to not surface them in the UI anymore. Most clients seem to use random strings.

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