I've previously announced Spark becoming Open Source and its source code appearing in SVN. Now, the first official Open Source release of Spark (version 2.0) is available. A lot of great stuff got packed into 2.0, including support for translations, URI mappings, gateways (for legacy IM networks), and numerous UI and performance improvements.

 

The release is the culmination of a big shift in our strategy around business IM. Organizations that deploy IM don't think of the server and client as two totally separate applications. Instead, they're looking for an IM solution where both the client and server work together seamlessly to offer the best possible user experience. Our goal for Spark is ambitious but simple -- to create the best IM client for business. Why do most companies deploy Microsoft's email system? It's because their users prefer Outlook. When users demand Spark instead of Office Communicator, we'll know we're accomplishing our goal.

 

One aspect of the Spark story that I find particularly interesting is that we've built it using Java. It's been common knowledge for years that using Java for client-side applications "sucks". In fact, I personally remember having lots of worries about the platform as we started Spark development two years ago. Could we make it feel like a native application and get good performance? Well, times change and the common wisdom about client-side Java needs some updating. We've made Spark feel like a Windows app on Windows, a Mac app on OS X, etc. It's also speedy and we've even made some good strides with memory consumption. Memory usage is going to continue to be an issue for some, but computers keep shipping with more and more RAM and the Java platform keeps making big strides. Why do we use Java in Spark? We get a huge community of developers, fairly seamless cross-platform support, and great development productivity. One thing I'm excited about is the upcoming Java 6 release. It includes loads of improvements for client-side Java and will be a great platform for Spark.

 

Of course, the myriad other XMPP clients will continue to work great with Wildfire. Choice is a great thing about open standards. We hope you find Spark 2.0 to be a worthy option.