Facebook chat in Empathy

As you probably know, Facebook now allows you to connect to Facebook chat using any XMPP client. This is a great news as it allows Facebook users to chat using Free Software and can potentially bring millions of new people to XMPP, our favorite IM protocol.

As a XMPP client, you can already use Empathy to connect to Facebook. Alan wrote a nice post explaining how to configure Empathy to do so.

One of our main goals with Empathy is to make the application really easy to use for all kinds of users. So, today I added a new widget to configure Facebook accounts. Facebook now appears as a separate protocol[1] and the widget provides information to the user about how to configure it properly.

The release team folks have been kind enough to allow merging the branch despite the UI freeze so this new widget will be available in Empathy 2.29.91 (which will be released the 22th of Feb) and of course 2.30!


[1] as GTalk does


1. Le jeudi, février 11 2010, 19:56 par Simon McVittie

If you've only recently added a username (www.facebook.com/whatever) to your Facebook account, it seems you need to log out of the website, log back in, *then* connect with Empathy; until you do that, you'll get "Authentication Error".

2. Le jeudi, février 11 2010, 20:31 par ethana2

What I'd like to know is whether two empathy/pidgin/whatever instances can do a voice and/or video connection using two Facebook accounts..

3. Le jeudi, février 11 2010, 21:14 par Olivier Le Thanh Duong

@ethana2, we tried but is not possible as Facebook seems to be blocking some of he trafic. In the same maner you can't have any presence other than online and offline and no presence message.

4. Le jeudi, février 11 2010, 21:21 par Robert McQueen

ethana2, Olivier: They're not /blocking/ anything, the reality is that Facebook chat system is not actually an XMPP network - this is just a gateway onto their servers which allows XMPP clients to connect. This means you can't send the full generality of XMPP requests, like rich presence, capabilities discovery, or the types of XML messages used for file transfer and calling - because these kind of messages aren't (currently) representable or transmittable over their internal chat server network. That's not to say it will /never/ work - they can pick these up and move them between two XMPP clients if they wanted - but it won't at the moment. See http://wiki.developers.facebook.com... for more details.

5. Le jeudi, février 11 2010, 23:11 par xav

how about cleaning and migrating the leftovers from the old facebook-chat plugin ? now that would be useful !

6. Le vendredi, février 12 2010, 02:54 par Eric Pritchett

If you update your custom message status will it change on facebook? If no, is that planned or possible?

7. Le vendredi, février 12 2010, 05:07 par clee

C'mon, guys. Figure out the Facebook username from the Firefox || Chrome cookies. Go the extra step! ;)

8. Le vendredi, février 12 2010, 08:28 par Petteri

I think it would be nice to mention the XMPP there somewhere. I hate the way all try to hide it from users. String like: "Protocol: Facebook chat (XMPP)" would be nice.

9. Le vendredi, février 12 2010, 10:04 par Serge van Ginderachter

Havnig tried to add fb to pidgin as an XMPP account, I 'can't understand why these days a service like facebook would not allow to make encrypted connections. http://twitpic.com/12k5o7

10. Le vendredi, février 12 2010, 10:25 par Raphael Slinckx

It's a shame that you can't move those facebook contacts to a specific group, because they all appear as toplevel contacts and it gets messy real fast if you have more than 20 friends online.

Do you think there's some workaround ?

11. Le vendredi, février 12 2010, 10:26 par mp

What Petteri said. It is nice to have specialized configuration dialogs, not so nice to hide that there is XMPP underneath.

12. Le vendredi, février 12 2010, 11:53 par Guillaume

Xav: I thought about that but think it's not that useful as the old (Haze) FB plugin wasn't easily accessible to users. You had to delete Haze's manager file and I assume that people who were able to do that can recreate their account. :)

Eric: It's not working atm because of FB limitations. I don't know what their plans are. Tbh, I don't think we should map Empathy's status with your FB one; but maybe FB could have a XMPP extension for that at some point?

clee: It's not a bad idea actually. Care to submit a patch? ;)

Petteri, mp: Most users don't know about XMPP and don't care either. I'd rather not confuse them with a weird acronym. Furtermore, as Rob said, strictly speaking this is not really a XMPP network.

Serge: I guess Facebook people are the ones to ask about that :\

Raph: We could imagine hardcoding a special group in Empathy for those (as we do for Salut accounts appearing in a "People Nearby" group). But, tbh, I'd prefer to see that fixed by using meta-contacts, but that's a longer term goal.

13. Le vendredi, février 12 2010, 17:25 par Petteri

Guillaume: And the users will never learn about XMPP as the application developers try their best to hide it. Since the dialog already says "protocol", it would be fair enough (for all involved parties) to somehow implicate that the protocol is in fact XMPP. As and user of Empathy don't underestimate us.

14. Le vendredi, février 12 2010, 18:51 par Guillaume

Why should users have to care? People use web and email clients every day without having to worry about HTTP, POP, STMP, IMAP, etc.

The underlying protocol is an implementation detail for users. There is no point to confuse them about that.

15. Le samedi, février 13 2010, 02:15 par Jon Pritchard

I'm glad you've put it as its own protocol (even though it's not one, nor is it really XMPP as has been pointed out) but as you say, it just makes it easier for the lay user.