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Find me if you can: The era of contact management

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

220px-XMPP_logo.svgThe majority of WebRTC communication applications are based upon one or more users all arriving at a specific url at about the same time. A glorified meet-me conference of sorts. But how do I reach you otherwise? I’m not talking about identity management (which has all sorts of complexities), I’ m talking about contact management.  Rapidly we have become comfortable with communicating via our PC, tablet and mobile using a variety of applications. The massive acceptance of WebRTC is going to create a new zoom point.

The demands on addressing are straightforward:

To get 5 check marks isn’t easy and the choices are pretty limited to character sets globally recognized and today’s types are equally limited to things like:

Telephone numbers are a natural. But telephone companies have worked hard to prevent nearly anyone from querying a telephone number to find out even the most basic of information (like what telephone company even owns the number). Whereas with a domain query even the most basic geek can find out all sorts of stuff using common tools, where you registered, what your IP address is, who owns the IP address, your mail server information and whatever assortment of SRV records are shoved in there.

What technology do we have that enables cross border communications using easily resolved handles to quickly establish a communications path? Answer: XMPP

XMPP started with the notion that we didn’t want to be held hostage to a single instant messaging provider. Unfortunately with IM free, it was a tough sell and remained in a darkened geeky state. It’s also not the newest of technologies, started in 1999, it’s ridden down the road of hard knocks to reach a level of standards compliant such that it amazingly works!

Today nearly all of us and use multiple IM clients, it seems quite complex and in fact in my discussions with emerging WebRTC players – we’re about to see a whole lot more IM client types. I totally get that within my inner circle of  work pals, I’m gonna want a highly optimized tool. But how do I reach that one guy for a single contact and have them magically disappear after the transaction?

What I find interesting is relatively young developers are re-discovering XMPP and giving consideration to how it might be used (morphed or re-purposed) with WebRTC . The notion of XMPP over websockets has been in periodic discussion as well.

There is a great opportunity ahead along with some great challenges, answering “how” a connection is begun are the headwaters for WebRTC.