Profiles give you information on a person in your
contact list. People can choose to provide as much or little
information about themselves as they wish, but some information
can be very useful when chatting to someone, so users should be
gently encouraged to provide what information they are comfortable
The easiest way to allow the user to enter information
into their profile, is from an HTML form in their default web browser.
It is pretty safe to assume that any machine running a Windows Jabber
client will have a web browser. This web page can be either
loaded off their hard drive (installed with your client) or from
an Internet server. If it is on an Internet server, it means
you can change the design of the form without the user having to
update their client. Either way, the form should submit the
data to be stored on the the Jabber server. Profiles can be
edited in a similar manner.
The simplest way to get information on someone
in your contact list is to hover your mouse pointer over them.
This should pop up a small window (or at very least a tool-tip)
with some basic information like the users full name, Jabber address,
Other useful information that is worth including
is local time (queried from the remote client, or calculated off
the vCard timezone information and system clock), phone number or
extension (especially useful in an office situation), job title,
country, city, or gender. It is also nice if you can include
a thumbnail photo if you can extract one from the contacts vCard,
as users find it easier to identify with someone if they have an
image to associate to a name.
In the pop-up tool-tips there should not be any
empty fields or field labels. If some information is missing,
leave it out altogether. Since space is at a premium, I would
suggest ranking the top 10 fields you would like to see, and displaying
the five or so that are complete. If you can make this user-selectable
then so much the better, as everyone will have a different list
of what they would like to see.
Since Jabber clients are usually run in the background,
it is often the case that they do not have current focus.
Most programs will not display tool-tips unless they are they window
with the current focus. For a Jabber client it is appropriate
for tool-tips to be displayed when the mouse hovers over the contact
list even if it is a background window. This saves the user
from having to click on the contact list and the go back to the
window they were working with if they are just quickly looking up
The easiest way to display a full Jabber Profile
is to call the system default web browser with the XML from the
vCard. This solves the problem of having to create dialog
boxes to display fields that will probably change over time.
Hopefully someone has come up with a (semi-)standard stylesheet
for an XML vCard.
Jabber profiles are going to be reviewed to allow
more flexibility and security. Check out the Profiles
Jabber Interest Group (JIG) mailing list.