By Charlton Rose and other contributors. This specification is donated to the public domain.
Note: ODSIMS was Sharkysoft's slowly evolving "secret rocket" that never got off the launching pad. It was cancelled when the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) announced their goal to develop a vender-neutral, unified instant messaging protocol. Nevertheless, many of the ideas in this half-way complete specification are valuable and are hereby offered to the public for whatever purpose the public sees fit.
This draft is incomplete.
Instant messaging (IM) is a popular technology through which people connected to the internet communicate with each other in real time, in a manner that is simultaneously similar to both email dialogs and telephone conversations. It is similar to email because users type their messages to each other, and it is similar to phone calls because the messages are delivered instantly and exchanged interactively. Instant messaging ranks highly as an effective means of communication because it allows instant connections and message delivery, like an intercom system, but does not invade the receiver's privacy by automatically opening the return channel. Instant messaging is also popular for the fact that it provides long distance, interactive communication without the cost of a long distance phone call.
There are many instant messaging systems available today. The most popular systems are AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM) and their recently acquired ICQ service, which combined boast approximately 131 million registered members. Runners up include Yahoo! Messenger and Microsoft's MSN Messenger Service, which have both tried to establish interoperability with AIM and have failed. All of these instant messaging solutions, however, suffer from some serious limitations due to the proprietary nature of each system.
ODSIMS is a foundation for a new instant messaging system. ODSIMS is designed to offer an extensible foundation for a completely Open, Distributed, and Secure Instant Messaging System that focuses on the interests of the users, not greedy corporations. It is the author's hope that the internet community will embrace ODSIMS, a form of it, or any other protocol which offers equivalent features and functionality.
This document describes the operation of ODSIMS servers and clients and outlines the manner in which they interact. It is intended to be free from ambiguities and rigorously-enough defined so that independently implemented clients and servers will be able to interact with each other. Readers are invited to submit suggestions for improvements or clarifications.