Welcome!

Java Authors: Elizabeth White, Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Liz McMillan, Patrick Carey, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Java

Java: Article

Building an Instant Messaging Application Using Jabber/XMPP

An adventure with Smack and Wildfire

This article will describe our experiences with developing a Java-based instant messenger application using Jabber/XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) - a free, open and public protocol and technology for instant messaging. According to the Jabber Software Foundation, "Under the hood, Jabber is a set of streaming XML protocols and technologies that enable any two entities on the Internet to exchange messages, presence, and other structured information in close to real-time."

Google Talk uses the standard Jabber/XMPP protocol for authenticating, presence, and messaging. But using Jabber goes beyond instant messaging to almost real-time server-to-server communication.

This article will describe the Jabber/XMPP protocol for messaging, the Jabber/XMPP client program based on JFace and Eclipse, and the Jabber/XMPP Java server. These will be illustrated through Open Source Smack and the Wildfire Server 2.4.4. It will offer examples of a login-class plug-in for custom authentication, a plug-in and server extension for custom messages, and a server-side extension for database interactions. Each example will contain the XML messages, client-side code, and server-side code.

What's Different About Jabber?
Compared to traditional IM programs, Jabber:

  1. Is an XML-based messaging protocol that is open and extensible
  2. It lets you build custom client IM applications. We'll talk about Smack, a project based on JFace and Eclipse that provides tools for building custom client applications
  3. It lets you extend the functionality of the server to process custom messages by writing server-side plug-ins. We'll describe the plug-in architecture of the Wildfire Server
What Are the Basic Features of Instant Messaging?
Any instant messaging system will have these basic features: It connects to server, registers new users, logs in, gets presence information, exchanges messages, and does custom interactions (VoIP, Web conferencing, etc.). Below each of these IM features are described using XMPP:

  • Connect to Server - This is done through a XML stream header exchange. The client sends:

    <stream to='192.168.0.12:5222' xmlns='jabber:client'/>

    The client receives:

    <stream id='xxxx' from:'192.168.0.12:5222' xmlns='jabber:
    client'/>

  • Register - The client sends a message to discover the server's requirements for registration:

    <iq type='get' id='reg1' to='192.168.0.12:5222'><query xmlns='jabber:iq:register'/></iq>

    The server responds with a message that lists the fields required for registration:

    <iq type='result' id='reg1'> <query xmlns='jabber:iq:register'>
          <instructions>

    Choose a username and password for use with this service.
    Please also provide your email address.        </instructions>
         <username/>
         <password/>
         <email/>
       </query></iq>

    The client responds by sending the requested information:

    <iq type='set' id='reg2'>
       <query xmlns='jabber:iq:register'>
         <username>a3</username>
         <password>password</password>
         <email>[email protected]</email>
       </query>
    </iq>

    On successful registration, the server responds:

    <iq type='result' id='reg2'/>

    Declare Presence and Get Presence Information
    To declare presence information, the client sends:

    <presence xmlns="" id="d6vNV-3" from="mahaveerj@sow/1139352545625"/>

    Note the "to" attribute isn't required in the above message because the client knows which server it's talking to.

    To get presence information, client sends:

    <iq xmlns="" id="d6vNV-2" type="get" from="mahaveerj@sow/1139352545625">
    <query xmlns="jabber:iq:roster"/>
    </iq>

    The server responds with presence data about two people in the roster:

    <iq xmlns="" type="result" id="d6vNV-2" to="mahaveerj@sow/1139352545625">
       <query xmlns="jabber:iq:roster">
          <item jid="jorge@sow" name="Jorge" subscription="both"></item>
          <item jid="bruce@sow" name="Dr. Bruce" subscription="both"></item>
       </query></iq>

    Exchange Messages
    User a1 sends message to user a2:

    <message xmlns="" id="H49LH-12" to="a1@sow" type="chat" from="a2 @sow/1139385809707">
         <body>Good Morning, I am testing chat in Jabber Client.</body>
    </message>

    The elements above form the core of XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) XML syntax. It also gives you a sense of the flow of XML messages between the client and server to accomplish a task.

    Jabber/XMPP Client and Server
    Since Jabber/XMPP is an open protocol scores of implementations have been created for the client and server, some Open Source and others commercial. There are literally hundreds of Jabber clients available. (See References.)

    In this article we'll use the Smack library (www.jivesoftware.org/smack/) to illustrate client-side functionality. Smack provides an API for implementing the GUI and managing XML data. Managing XML data involves creating XML messages, sending the messages, receiving messages from the server, and processing the incoming messages.

    We'll use the Wildfire Server (www.jivesoftware.org/wildfire/) for illustrating creating server-side plug-ins. For basic IM needs, no server-side programming is required. For other needs Wildfire provides a plug-in architecture for extending the server's functionality. We'll look next at a use case to illustrate how custom messages can be created and processed at both the client and server.

    Use Case 1: Custom Authentication and Custom Queries
    Consider a case in which an IM client and a Web portal are part of a suite of collaboration applications. The Web portal has database-driven MD5-based authentication and the requirement is that IM client use the portal's authentication service. This will allow users to log in to IM and then launch applications on the portal from the IM client without logging into the portal.

    Part A: Custom Authentication
    The Wildfire Server uses the DefaultAuthProvider class to authenticate users and DefaultUserProvider to get user information. These use the database tables Wildfire provides.

    If you want to use a custom authentication method you'll have to change the user and authentication provider in wildfire.xml.

    <provider>
    <user> <className>org.indent.wildfire.user.SOWUserProvider</className> </user>
    <auth><className>org.indent.wildfire.auth.SOWAuthProvider</className> </auth>
    </provider>

    The simple extension defined in Listing 1 uses custom tables and custom encryption methods. The SOWUserProvider class is for user info and SOWAuthProvider is for authentication.

    The two static variables shown define the database authentication strings. And if custom encryption is used then the encryptPassword() method provides the encryption logic.

    Part B: Retrieving a Token from the Database
    In this use case, after authenticating, the client is going to ask the database for an encrypted token that uniquely identifies the client. This token is later used to launch applications in the Web portal without explicitly logging into the portal. The steps are:
    a)  The client generates a custom message to request a token
    b)  The server gets the message and processes the request by getting a token from the database. The server generates a reply message that contains the token and sends it to the requesting client
    c)  The client gets the message and extracts the token

    This process is illustrated in Figure 1.

    Client to Server
    The client generates a <iq> packet that looks like:

    <iq to="serverName" type="get"><query xmlns="jabber:iq:token"/></iq>

    jabber:iq:token is a namespace for our custom query. This message is generated at the client using the following code:

           XMPPConnection connection = session.getConnection();
           ClientID packet = new ClientID();
           connection.sendPacket(packet);

    The Class ClientID is defined in the section "Client-side Processing of Reply Packets" below.

    The Server-Side Plug-In
    The first step is to create a plug-in that will process the custom message with xmlns="jabber:iq:token." The plug-in is called ClientTokenPlugin. It first creates an IQTokenHandler; the handler is then added to the iq router that routes all the incoming iq messages:

    public class ClientTokenPlugin implements Plugin {
        public ClientTokenPlugin() {
           IQHandler iqRDHandler = new IQTokenHandler();
           IQRouter iqRouter = XMPPServer.getInstance().getIQRouter();
           iqRouter.addHandler(iqRDHandler);
        }
        public void initializePlugin(PluginManager manager, File pluginDirectory) { }
        public void destroyPlugin() { }
    }

    For more on how to create a plug-in, see www.jivesoftware.org/builds/wildfire/docs/ latest/documentation/plugin-dev-guide.html.

    IQTokenHandler has two key methods:

    a)  getInfo() which returns the type of queries in the iq messages that the token handler is going to process
    b)  handleIQ() which processes the incoming message/packet and creates a reply message/packet

    public class IQTokenHandler extends IQHandler {
       public IQTokenHandler() { super("Client Token Handler"); }
       public IQHandlerInfo getInfo() {
         return new IQHandlerInfo("query","jabber:iq:token"); }

       public IQ handleIQ(IQ packet) {
       IQ replyPacket = IQ.createResultIQ(packet);
       Element m = replyPacket.setChildElement("query", "jabber:iq:token");
    // 2 lines below are specific to our needs; change them to get data according to your needs
       ClientSession session = sessionManager.getSession(packet.getFrom());
       String token = (String)UserTokenList.get(JID.unescapeNode(session.getAddress().getNode().toLowerCase()));
       m.addElement("tokenNum").addText(token);
       return replyPacket;
       }
    }

    The reply message will look like:

    <iq to="clientName">
       <query xmlns="jabber:iq:token">
         <tokenNum>abcdefgh</tokenNum>
       </query></iq>


  • More Stories By Pramod Jain

    Pramod Jain is president of Innovative Decision Technologies, Inc. (INDENT, www.indent.org), in Jacksonville, FL. Their clients include Recruitmax, NASA, and NIH. Pramod has a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

    More Stories By Mahaveer Jain

    Mahaveer Jain is a lead programmer at INDENT. His expertise is in developing collaboration applications with Java technologies.

    Comments (2) View Comments

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    Most Recent Comments
    SYS-CON Australia News Desk 06/23/06 09:05:30 AM EDT

    This article will describe our experiences with developing a Java-based instant messenger application using Jabber/XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) - a free, open and public protocol and technology for instant messaging. According to the Jabber Software Foundation, 'Under the hood, Jabber is a set of streaming XML protocols and technologies that enable any two entities on the Internet to exchange messages, presence, and other structured information in close to real-time.'

    SYS-CON Australia News Desk 06/22/06 03:52:45 PM EDT

    This article will describe our experiences with developing a Java-based instant messenger application using Jabber/XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) - a free, open and public protocol and technology for instant messaging. According to the Jabber Software Foundation, 'Under the hood, Jabber is a set of streaming XML protocols and technologies that enable any two entities on the Internet to exchange messages, presence, and other structured information in close to real-time.'

    @ThingsExpo Stories
    DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
    “In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
    The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
    The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...

    ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

    "BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
    "People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
    The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
    "At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    "For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
    Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
    We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
    Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
    The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
    As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
    In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.