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Spark Skinning Update

!http://www.jivesoftware.com/skin/images/spark-skin-sshot.gif!The Spark Skinning Service has been a hot topic here at Jive for the past couple of weeks. The service is not yet ready to serve up customized builds of Spark 2.5 (it will be ready late May) and it turns out that one small change to the service will make it much easier to keep the Skinning Service up to date with the latest Spark release. What’s the change? Removing the ability to change the color of Spark. So in the interest of staying in sync with Spark releases, we’ll be removing this functionality.

We have also decided to stop selling Spark Skinning as a stand-alone service. Instead, it will only be available as part of Openfire Enterprise Edition. Current customers of Spark Skinning will not be affected. If you have a subscription to the service already it will continue to work until the current subscription runs out, and there is an upgrade path to Openfire Enterprise to keep the functionality after that time.

Spark Skinning is being phased out as a stand-alone service for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, the changes to Openfire Enterprise pricing substantially lower the barrier for small deployments while maintaining value-based prices for larger deployments. The second reason is that the amount of administration required to keep two sets of Spark Skinning accounts functioning smoothly became too onerous. Simplifying to a single account type will help considerably.

As always, let me know if you have any thoughts about Spark Skinning or these changes.

Hmm… personally, I dislike the per-user pricing structure of Enterprise, simply because it kills OpenFire as an alternative for ejabberd in everything but small-scale enterprise IM. For example, if you are in some school, or doing some small community website, but somehow you need a monitoring and/or logging functionality, you have two options:

  • Since these things usually have an average of 1000 users (let’s say: some schools might have 10000 users, some communities might have only 2-300), spend 15 000 $s per year just on jabber - not recommended, if you don’t have income.

  • Use a jabber server which has archiving / monitoring functionality built-in at no cost, and try to make it authenticate against your current architecture.

Personally I think there’s a lot of space between the two which is needed to fill, not to mention that OpenFire has a far more conveninient interface than anything else in jabber server market I know of.

I think that there are organizations what would pay for an easy setup, but not that price, simply because it’s based on user number, not about efficiency / utilization.

Aadaam – I’m not sure I agree with your comparison. The best comparison to me is Microsoft’s Office Communicator, which is much more expensive than Openfire Enterprise and also a closed system. The Microsoft juggernaut marches on and we need commercial commitment from a large number of users to put up a good fight. Basically any way you slice it, Openfire Enterprise edition is a very reasonable cost.

Of course, we’re happy to have Open Source edition users (non-paying) as well. We also have special pricing for educational institutions.

Regards,

Matt

“First and foremost, the changes to Openfire Enterprise pricing substantially lower the barrier for small deployments while maintaining value-based prices for larger deployments”

Is there a pricing change on the horizion or just something I missed?

William, the price change occurred a couple of months ago and there are no changes on the horizon right now. Current pricing is available here:

Cheers,

Greg

This is my first time to this site, and I was going to try out Spark. Is there a how-to for first time users? I just want to use my Google Talk account.

Apologies for not posting in the forums, but couldn’t find anything in documentation or forums regarding this matter.

Thanks

Hi Dan, the best place to post questions is in the Spark forums: http://www.igniterealtime.org/forum/forum.jspa?forumID=49.

There is not Spark end-user documentation yet, although it is coming. To use your GTalk account with Spark just enter your username, password and gmail.com as the server into the client. Your username is the part before the @ sign in username@gmail.com.

I am looking forward to skinning being available for the new spark client 2.5.2.

Openfire and Spark are also a very good deal compared to the other commercial alternatives. Generally big companies like to have a company to turn to if there are problems with their install. This is why I like the enterprise version of openfire, it gives us a nice, scalable server built on opensource technology, but with support available. I it seems like they keep rolling the good features into the enterprise version, sparkweb, skinning spark, logging options.

A very good choice IMO.