Research in synchronous conferencing systems
The IRC community has pretty much given up finding solutions to handling
each year's doubling of IRC popularity. Inventing new protocols capable of
handling the load is no longer an issue. IRC just runs more and more
detached networks, and the big business of providing an actually useful
tool for everyone is left to the proprietary solutions. However there has
been done some research work here and there:
These are the folks doing research:
- PSYC is the
Protocol for SYnchronous Conferencing.
It provides a generic messaging framework
plus a scalable IRC replacement and a new level of abstraction concerning
conference control. It has a notion of "plug-in" multicast strategies, so
you can apply different routing technologies to it.
IRC client-compatibility is available, so you can check it out rightaway
by issueing /server psyced.org. legacy compatibility for jabber
is also available. you could say, this is a solution that actually works.
- Gerrit Hiddink
has implemented a plug-in replacement for the IRC server using a new
server-to-server protocol (better multicasting, less overhead, TCP however)
called WWCN. It still uses the model of interconnected servers like IRC,
although they can be freely interlinked now. It has seen a successful
deployment at HIP'97. You may want to look into that.
- Timo Sirainen of irssi fame has thought of an IRC+ thing
which looked very PSYC-like. Then moved on to do something
completely different called Icecap.
- ircd - The IRC developer list has tried
to become an IETF working group and
develop a proposal for a new protocol.
A few proposals did get written, but soon the process froze.
Coder Committee made some
neat extensions to the IRC protocol, but didn't however solve the major
problems IRC is facing today yet, either. May '97: They have started a
new mailing list very similar to the "big" IRC developer list.
- Adam Ierymenko is working on an IRC plug-in replacement, too. It's called
Nexis Chat Protocol (NCP).
This one too uses an approach based on interconnected servers, although
using UDP. I'm afraid it replaces multicasting with broadcasting though.
Not sure. The website has disappeared. Huh?
- Yet another IETF working group wanna-be:
ircup - The IRC Update Working Group.
but they started working anyway. So far the basics have been pinned down.
Lisa Dusseault from Microsoft is in this group promoting the MSN extensions
Other chat protocols
- Reliable Multicast protocols on top of IP Multicast. They do not scale for large amounts of channels, though.
- The MMUSIC working group at IETF in charge of the MBONE are working out
protocols for reliable multicasting
over Multicast IP as well as dealing with scaling issues when it comes
to having thousands of small conferences. These issues have proved hard
to solve though, so a lot of work needs to be done by the involved
researchers. We're all eagerly awaiting their results. KUTGW!
(Keep Up The Good Work)
was a conferencing/collaboration extension to Mosaic, probably
comparable to NCSA's own Habanero efforts, but Mika was looking at ways
to redo IRC starting from there. Nowadays hardly anyone knows, Mosaic was
the original web browser. Project Y has disappeared.
- The InterMUD protocols are still
in use for intercommunication between Multi-User Domain Servers. Both
Intermud2 and Intermud3 are still in use. Number two is unreliable (UDP)
and insecure, but peer-to-peer, whereas number three uses a central node
which runs proprietary software. Most MUDs aren't exactly happy with both
solutions. Güldenland has adapted psyced
to serve as an Intermud4 protocol. Nice and effective.
- strauss-p2p-chat for serverless mobile networks.
Instant messaging protocols
- jabber is an open-source
instant messaging protocol which passes around XML packets. a quite
ugly syntax which combines the
verboseness of textual protocols with non-line-orientedness (thus losing
out on the advantages of not using a binary protocol).
As an IM protocol it seems to operate well and
is being extended all the while, but as with other IM approaches
no proper multicasting is considered to resolve the conferencing
and presence "friendcasting" aspects, therefore it cannot be considered
an IRC replacement. In fact it is already running into scalability
problems. The IETF has made jabber a standard called XMPP, neglecting the
inherent scalability issues.
- Can't find a homepage for the Rendez-Vous Protocol (RVP). It was brought
up by young enthusiasts at Microsoft Network. It is a decentralized
Buddy List Protocol, and that's it. Chat programmers think buddy lists are a
problem that is solved easily once you implement a chat properly, just add
some presence message types. Buddy list programmers instead think chats can't
do the job, and neglect multicasting. Go ahead and decide for yourself. :°)
- The ICQ
protocol, as unveiled by hackers. Implementing anything according to
this is probably the fast way to make yourself totally
dependent from a particular company.
first created in 1993, last update 2009