The Skinny on IMPP

FRAMINGHAM (05/01/2000) - The goal of the Internet Engineering Task Force's Instant Messaging and Presence Protocol (IMPP) working group is to define a standard protocol so various instant messaging and online presence applications can interoperate across the Internet.

The protocol must:

Support millions of users in a multitude of organizations.

Support mobile wireless access devices.

Offer controls for observing a user's online presence and communicating with that user.

Ensure that notification and messages have not been corrupted or intercepted.

Identify and authenticate users.

In addition to defining requirements for the IMPP, the working group has defined its terminology and outlined the services that will be provided by IMPP systems. Now the working group is turning its attention to designing an IMPP, with a contest under way that allows participants to submit complete protocols to IETF leaders for consideration.

One of the reasons it is taking so long to design IMPP is that the scope of the effort has grown since the working group was established two years ago.

"The initial goal was to get interoperability between the existing instant messaging systems. Now we've got the whole wireless spin that wasn't there before," explains Mark Day, a senior scientist with Sightpath Inc. and co-author of several IMPP documents. "What people in the IMPP working group are still grappling with is the intuition that the technologies of instant messaging and presence are tremendously important, and they don't want to do anything to mess it up."

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