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Jabber Inc.’s Jabber Extensible Communications Platform has a lot under the covers that brings IM beyond user-to-user communications. Unfortunately, Jabber XCP lacks the graphical management tools found in competing products.

Jabber XCP 2.7 is available now, priced at $30 per user. In eWEEK Labs’ tests, we found a good deal to like in the way Jabber XCP and its included Jabber Messenger work together to deliver instant messaging, but the lack of a management console is a troubling shortcoming of the platform. In terms of base price, Jabber XCP is competitive with Microsoft Corp.’s Live Communications Server 2003. It costs much less than IBM’s Lotus Sametime 3.1 but doesn’t offer Sametime’s Web conferencing features.

Jabber Inc. originated out of the Jabber Open Source Project, when Webb Interactive Services Inc. created a software company around the core developers of the original open-source Jabber server. Open-source versions of products that leverage XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), the XML-based Jabber communications protocol, are available through the Jabber Software Foundation at The JSF manages the standardization process for adding extensions to XMPP for backward compatibility. The Jabber XCP product differs from the open-source Jabberd server in that it is a multithreaded and modular application.

Jabber offers an interesting wrinkle on IM

As a framework application, Jabber XCP offers companies a flexible platform for delivering IM- and presence-aware applications. Overall, we liked the IM experience Jabber XCP provides, including its default options for indicating presence, which are broader than those in competing enterprise IM clients, and its ability to customize the Jabber IM client.

As a framework for user productivity, Jabber offers an interesting wrinkle on IM: the ability to create shared ad hoc or permanent “rooms” for hosting group text conferencing sessions. We could set up the Messenger client to monitor those rooms for presence and messaging events, such as when a person joins or a certain word appears in a conference. We liked this feature because it could provide options to companies looking for ways to better tap an individual’s knowledge in situations where responsiveness can make a difference, such as a customer call center application.

Because Jabber XCP relies heavily on XML as the core to communications, seeing how the product works and making modifications can be relatively straightforward. For example, customizing the client’s look and feel essentially involves making changes to three XML files. Unfortunately, changing server settings is not as easy as it should be: Management is done exclusively via scripts and editing files. This is a major drawback because manually editing files can lead to errors that could affect the server’s performance.

Jabber XCP has hooks for linking a server in one organization to a Jabber server in another. However, the servers must be visible to each other, and users must know the domain resolvable address of users at the other end, such as user@ XMPP traffic traveling between servers is encrypted, as is traffic between clients and the server.

Platform support is good. The server runs on Red Hat Inc.’s Red Hat Linux, Solaris, and Microsoft’s Windows Server 2000 and 2003. Besides the Windows-based client, there is the Jabber WebClient. Supporting the WebClient will likely cost more because it requires companies to run a third-party Web server.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at