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8 Years and More: The Roots of Coccinella

Birthday balloons for Coccinella
Credit: D. Bell, License: by-nc

Exactly 8 years ago, on the 1st of December 1999, the first official release of an application called Whiteboard was released. In 2003, Whiteboard was renamed into Coccinella. Happy 8th birthday Coccinella!

Read on for a more complete history of 'the beginning' and to read about Coccinella's birthday presents.

The 'Before Coccinella' Era

Somewhere in 1998, Jeremie Miller started working on Jabber, a project that gave birth to innovative instant messaging protocols which are used today in an increasing number of instant messaging applications, including Coccinella. In November of the same year, another well-known instant messaging project named Gaim (now Pidgin) was started.

In January 1999, the Jabber project was officially announced.

The Birth of Coccinella's Roots

Throughout 1999, the Tcl community worked on a Jabber client called zABBER and a Jabber client library called JabberLib. We do not exactly know when these projects were started, though we found a development snapshot of zABBER which was released on the 12th of April. Note that the original zABBER website is still online (!!) and screenshots and snapshots of this prehistoric software can still be downloaded. In September 1999, the site was created. This was the home of the Jabber Tcl/Tk Team.

For those who are interested, I tested the latest zABBER release and it still works to some extend (connecting, presence, receiving messages, replying to received messages) with some of today's Jabber servers...8 years of compatibility of the base Jabber protocols which were still in heavy development in 1999!

The Birth of Coccinella

As already said in the introduction, the first official release of Coccinella was Whiteboard-0.90, released on the 1st of December 1999. We don't know when Mats actually started working on Whiteboard, but maybe he can add a comment to this post with a guess and/or additional interesting details he still remembers about 1999... B-)

You may think Coccinella always has had support for the Jabber/XMPP protocols but this is not true. On the 27th of January 2002 (coincidence?), Whiteboard-0.93 was released. This was the first release 'adapting to the jabber XML IM server system'. The peer-to-peer "Whiteboard protocol" was only removed earlier this year, in Coccinella 0.96.0. Also, it would be cool if Coccinella could adapt to a good whiteboarding XEP...which first should be made of course. See also Mat's related memo on synchronisation. /me pokes the XSF. ;-)

Balloons for Coccinella
Credit: K. Tate, License: by-nc-sa


Implementing Jabber support was not as tough as it could have been thanks to the work done by the Jabber Tcl/Tk Team in 1999 and beyond. Mats 'simply' could recycle the JabberLib client library made by this project (Mats' fork of JabberLib). Five months later, on the 3rd of July, the Tkabber project repeated the same trick by forking JabberLib for a second time. So, today there are 2 separate forks of the original JabberLib. This also means that these are probably (correct me if I'm wrong) only 2 active Jabber-only clients which have such mature Jabber roots.

Besides that, there are at least 2 projects using Mats' JabberLib fork. However, which projects these are and more details about these projects will be the topic of a further blog post as this one is already getting too long :-)

Birthday Presents

We have 2 presents for Coccinella's birthday. First, there is the updated website design including Néstor Díaz's new logo design (do you like it?). Secondly, there is a secret present which will be revealed tomorrow. So, stay tuned!


Perhaps I could add a few comments. The first "Whiteboard" that came eight years ago was an extremely primitive whiteboard tool that only had direct p2p connections. If I remember correctly, it only had a couple of thousands lines of code and I had no intentions to do very much more than that, why it got version 0.90. How wrong I was. Some time later I got a mail from someone (now forgotten) about Jabber, which I didn't know about, and started right away to adapt to the Jabber protocol. I feel a bit bad not to have achieved more in eight years, but to my defense I can tell you it has only been for the last years the project has been as active as it is now. Before that it was merely a spare time activity.

I have to say, Coccinella is one of the most advanced Jabber Clients I have ever seen. It has implementation of Jingle, and Whiteboarding (no XEP yet :( ). But 8 years? That is alot for such a project. Happy birthday, and let's see what happens until the Bug turns 10 :) - Professional IT Solutions.

Yes, 8 years and 1 day today ;-)