The Buddycloud project aims to build a rich user and group messaging ecosystem that can easily be embedded in any app, and relies on an open protocol (based on XMPP) and open-source software.
I contributed to the Buddycloud project from 2012 to 2013 as a volunteer.
The Buddycloud protocol is built on top of several technologies:
- XMPP (“Jabber”) is used to connect clients to servers and servers to other servers;
- XMPP extensions PubSub (XEP-0060) and MAM (Message Archive Management, XEP-0313) are used to provide realtime notifications and data synchronization between clients and federated servers;
- The messages and events are Atom entried, grouped in Activity Streams;
- Later versions of the server and client are written in Java and AngularJS.
Now some highlights about things I did on my own:
- Added support for content deletion that worked well across federated servers using Atom Tombstones: my first contributions to the Buddycloud protocol and server!
- Integrated Embedly for rich link previews in the initial web client.
- Took over the initial server component development and improved it a lot:
- improved packaging for major Linux distributions;
- added lots of unit tests;
- fixed lots of bugs;
- improved the DB schema to make use of PostgreSQL XML support, making the whole server safer and faster at the same time.
- Wrote a test suite that ran a real XMPP server + 3 Buddycloud instances to provide realistic test scenarios.
- Wrote a whole console client (in Python) that did not rely on the HTTP APIs but only on native XMPP connections.
Buddycloud was a lot of fun for me. I like its approach of designing the protocol before implementing it a lot, as opposed to “defined by implementation” protocols which often later prove hard to re-implement for interoperability purposes. I learned a lot while working on Buddycloud, and I’m very grateful to Simon Tennant for his help and his support.
I worked on Buddycloud on my free time as a volunteer, and I only stopped because I had not enough free time left after I joined Findspire.
Fun fact: I won a Buddycloud T-shirt at FOSDEM in 2012! The challenge was to setup a working Buddycloud instance and get in touch with the team… Had a really nice time with them at the XMPP “realtime booth”. I still proudly wear that T-shirt from time to time 😉