What would it take to get some real development on Spark going again?

I have tried tons of other jabber clients, and nothing beats Spark for the cleanliness and simplicity of the interface, and the organization of the company groups. The only client I’ve tried recently that had a similarly no-nonsense interface was the built-in Messages app for OSX Yosemite (but I’m not sure about its other features).

The only thing that continues to irk me about Spark are

Short-term necessities:

  1. various small bugs

2. lack of implementation of Message Carbons

Long-term dreams:

  1. lack of built-in whiteboard

  2. lack of built-in video/voice chat

  3. lack of support for server-side chat history (this also requires server support)

I was thinking that, my company would probably gladly pay $30 / month for someone to maintain Spark more actively. That doesn’t sound like much, but what if we could get 10 more small businesses on board? Would $300 / month be enough to motivate someone to develop Spark more actively? Obviously it wouldn’t be a full-time job, but some development would be better than none at all.

The problem is lack of the interest. Yeah, me and you like Spark, but most of the internet thinks about Hangouts, Messages, Whatsup. Every developer is trying to create their own Whatsup to sell it for millions to Google or Facebook They are just not interested to invest time into some small local client project. So most of the recent developers for Spark were just doing it as side projects besides their main job and usually only fixing what irk them or their businesses (latest changes few weeks ago by Will Dimmit about links not working and roster window hiding (Spark - INSTALL4J: Plan summary - Atlassian Bamboo ). I think most of them would be glad to receive additional 30-300 bucks, but they just don’t have time. Doing this after work is complex as many have families, other stuff. Ideally we would need some “student”, almost full-time dev. We had one like 5 years ago (not paying though), but it never lasts long (they complete studies, find job, gone).

Whiteboard - there is one plugin, but it is limited, very basic and quirky at times.

Voice chat - already there, but buggy. Cstux is trying to move to libjitsi library SPARK-1563 , but it’s slow

Video and audio chat seems too complex to me for such low on devs project, it needs a serious company behind to move it and support it (Skype, Viber, Lync). Or some very dedicated to this area developers like Jitsi.

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Let me answer your question from a developer’s point of view:

Spark is developed with Java Swing, which is a technology from 1997 and by now dead and unsupported, (I mean it’s no longer developed by Oracle, no bug fixes, etc… afaik).

If a developer spent his scarce free time to develop something (for free), he most likely wouldn’t put his work into an old and dead technology.

Developing in one’s free time is also always about learning for yourself and learning dead technologies isn’t attractive obviously.

Even if there was a student (as wroot suggested), he surely wouldn’t spend his time learning Swing.

At least that’s my reasoning behind the lack of development.

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I’m not a coder, but I want to help to get more development going on openfire and spark. In my option, Openfire is by far the best, and most user friendly xmpp server out there. I’ve enjoyed using it for years. However, it seems that only a handful of devs are working on it, and almost no devs on spark.

Since jitsi is seems to be heavily developed, I wonder if it would make more since to start using that, and develop plug-ins to more tighty integrate to the two? It seems like jitsi videobridge is moving in that direction. just some random thoughts!

To the devs…thanks for what you do! people like me really appreciate it.

Java Swing, which is a technology from 1997 and by now dead and unsupported
Yes Swing is old, but I wouldn’t go so far saying that it’s dead. There will be maybe not new functionality. Just like spark there are sure many old apps out there that use still use Swing. A quick search also showed no signs that Oracle stated that they don’t longer support Swing. But maybe I missed something. And it sure is superseded by JavaFX.

I don’t want to invalidate your points. It sure it’s more attractive to work on a project using JavaFX instead of Swing. But I wouldn’t go so far saying that swing is dead. I guess Oracle will have to support it a few years from now on.

Sure, Swing is still used in older projects and is still supported by Oracle (meaning that they still ship it with the JRE and they will for a long time), but afaik, they don’t put any effort into it any longer, e.g. no bug fixes or new controls etc…

I can’t find any official statement about it, too, but maybe I’ve read something like this in a mailing list or it’s just my (or general) perception.

It’s similar to other technologies which are supported/used but considered dead nonetheless, like Flash or Sliverlight, which make those technologies unattractive for developers.

I wanted to say it’s probably one of the reasons (or even THE main reason), why development on Spark has decreased.

And I also agree with wroot about video/voice chat. It’s probably to complex to have those things implemented in a non-prototypical, usable way in the near future, even if there were a few developers.

Btw.: Does anybody know the history of Spark development? Was it developed by Jive and then opensourced?

CSH wrote:

Btw.: Does anybody know the history of Spark development? Was it developed by Jive and then opensourced?

Yes, it was. Same as Openfire. Back in the days when Openfire was still called Jive Messenger they have released Jive Communicator (which is now Spark). It was mostly a one man project, but as he was a full-time Jive developer he was moving it pretty quickly forward with regular updates and fixes (Derek DeMoro). Actually Openfire was at some point almost a one man project too (based on Gaston Dombiak work). Well, Jive was a 2-3 man company in the beginning

speedy wrote:

Since jitsi is seems to be heavily developed, I wonder if it would make more since to start using that, and develop plug-ins to more tighty integrate to the two?

Nothing is stopping anyone to do this (Dele is an example). It is not like we should kill Spark project to do this. Actually i dislike the Jitsi client a bit. Too many bells and whistles. I don’t like clients which show additional controls when you click on a contact. Too busy.

I thought of Dele when I made that comment.

After spending the rest of the morning testing the jitsi client, I agree with you. It is too much for company use. Company users need a simple client, and something they can’t mess up. I think jitsi can be configure to dumb things down, and hide UI items, but for my needs, there is more i dislike about it, vs what I do like.

I truly love spark, and will continue to use it. it really is just about perfect, and exactly what I want…less the issues that it has preventing me from using it exactly the way I want! LOL Hopefully there will be a renewed interested in it. I wish I could contribute more. I might see about enrolling into a night class on java!

Jitsi is waaaaay too busy. And I don’t like the way contacts display in the contact list, nor the way that contacts get organized by groups.

And Dele, though his work is impressive, does not seem to create solutions that are user friendly nor well-integrated into the Spark client. I’d like to see a button in Spark that automatically starts a video/voice call.

Finally, even Spark 2.7 still has some of the bugs I was hoping would have been resolved. One of my users just started using 2.7 last Monday. They should have 10 days of history. But they are reporting that as of today, the first 5 days of history just randomly disappeared. This would happen in 2.6 as well.

maybe quit hack anyone have to worry about it