Right now, you can pick up the phone and call anyone in the world regardless of the telephone company they use. Email works this way, too: Gmail users can easily send emails to Yahoo! users and so on. Instant messaging has always lacked this back end glue – what we call “interoperability” – and so we’re left signing up with multiple service providers just to ensure coverage across our social network. The result is a mess: Mom is on Facebook, Dad is on Yahoo!, and our co-workers are on Skype. We think this should change, so today we’re making our own small contribution to interoperability by publishing the technical specifications that will allow the outside world to send messages to Trillian users. 1
Why are we doing this? As much as we’re happy to continue reverse engineering IM protocols, Cerulean Studios should also be doing its part to promote open and federated communication. We just so happen to have a great IM protocol we’ve been building and operating for the better part of the past decade – Trillian users will recognize it as the protocol that powers the Trillian IM network – and think the time is right to open it. We’re also laying the foundation to open our network to federation (which means our servers will talk to other servers in the same way an AT&T customer can call a Verizon customer) and continuing our commitment to run a business whose primary focus is its communication products, not advertising. This last point is important – it means we make money when we improve instant messaging, not when we gather enough eyeballs to show them ads.
Some technical bits: while our IM protocol is in production today, it should be considered under active development and therefore subject to (sometimes sweeping!) change. The documentation is also in an early state and should be considered “informational” only. If there’s enough interest in us continuing our documentation efforts we will do so; if not, we still believe publishing our protocol and opening Trillian to future federation is the right thing to do. Feel free to get in touch if you have comments or questions or want to help out in some way, and thanks for your support!
1. Relying on monolithic service providers has other disadvantages as well.