Google Jabbers And Jingles

by Sean Michael Kerner

Jabber Jingle protocol extends XMPP to VoIP and beyond thanks to Google contribution.

No, Jingle is not a Christmas promotion from Google, though it does involve a "gift" from Google.

Jingle is a newly published specification for doing voice over Jabber's XMPP protocol, which the Google Talk IM client uses. Google Talk's implementation of Jingle is now also available for download and third-party integration via the Google sponsored "Libjingle" project on SourceForge.

Jingle, along with Google's open source project, further Google's move into VoIP and extends the Jabber XMPP protocol.

The Jingle specification extends the XMPP protocol for VoIP and other P2P communications and uses.

The first two Jingle specifications published by the Jabber Software Foundation (JSF) are the Jingle Signalling and the Jingle Audio specifications.

Jingle Signalling allows for communication sessions that can punch through firewalls while Jingle Audio enables VoIP over XMPP/Jabber users. Both specifications were jointly authored by Google and JSF personnel.

"Joe Hildebrand of Jabber Inc. and I wrote the first versions of the spec and I was then approached by members of the Google Talk team," Peter Saint-Andre, executive director of the Jabber Software Foundation, told internetnews.com.

Saint-Andre explained that without Google's involvement, the JSF team might not have done Jingle as well because the Google Talk team has a lot of real-world experience that they brought to bear on defining the protocol.

In addition to technical help and support, Google is also providing a degree of financial sponsorship to the JSF.

"[Google has] committed to becoming a Platinum Sponsor of the JSF, which is a minimum of $10,000 a year," St. Andre said.

St. Andre expects that end users, organizational users (both enterprises and service providers), and developers will benefit from Jingle.

"For end users, they will start to see Jingle-based services showing up in Jabber clients over the next few months, starting with voice," St. Andre said. "Many end users have been asking for this over the years, so for them, they can know that the wait will soon be over."

St. Andre explained that for enterprises and service providers, before long they will have the option of deploying Jingle-based services to their user bases.

For developers, they will be able to fairly easily plug Jingle-based features into their offerings. The "easy" part (for some) will come by way of Google's C++ jingle library called Libjingle.

"Libjingle is the very same code Google Talk uses to negotiate, establish and maintain peer-to-peer voice sessions, packaged as a library for other developers to use in their own projects," Sean Egan, Google Talk software engineer and leader of other open source Gaim IM project, wrote in a blog entry.

"By incorporating Libjingle into your project, you enable its users to voice chat with other users of the Google Talk service."

Mike Jazayeri, Google Talk product manager, noted in a blog post that many users of the Google Talk service use third-party clients to connect. Those non-Google Talk clients have not been able to make voice calls yet and have only been able to send and receive IM messages.

The JSF's St. Andre also noted that the licenses under which Google is making Libjingle available also present a commercial opportunity.

"Note that Libjingle is licensed under a BSD-style license, which means it can be re-used by both open-source and commercial developers," St. Andre said. "So we may see some interesting commercial offerings in this space as well."

Google isn't the only group that sees potential in Jabber's Jingle, either. The open source Asterisk IP-PBX project and its commercial overseer Digium is also set to support the Jingle initiative.

"Jabber and Google recognized the need for a protocol to bring VoIP to Jabber users, and as Asterisk is designed to work with a number of protocols, we want to support all the interfaces we can," Mark Spencer, president of Digium and creator of Asterisk, told internetnews.com.

"Also, Asterisk brings an important set of features and a high level of interoperability with existing PSTN and SIP infrastructures to Jabber users."

This article was originally published on Tuesday Dec 20th 2005