Integrating XMPP Chat in the iOS App

Published On: 25 August 2016.By .
  • Mobile

What is XMPP:

XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) is a protocol based on Extensible Markup Language (XML) and intended for instant messaging (IM) and online presence detection. It functions between or among servers, and facilitates near-real-time operation. The protocol may eventually allow Internet users to send instant messages to anyone else on the Internet, regardless of differences in operating systems and browsers.


Why to Use:

XMPP protocols are free, open, public, and easily understandable; in addition, multiple implementations exist in the form clients, servers, server components, and code libraries.

Pre Requirement:

First of all we need to download that module from git link .


We are inserting the XMPP functionality in the App delegate, it is a better way to make the functionality easily available throughout the app. We can access the App Delegate with the following code:

The XMPP class will dispatch events by means of protocols which we will define below.:

The client connected with the server
The client authenticated with the server
The client received a notification of presence (e.g. a user logged in)
The client received a message
First of all we need to import some XMPP file in the header:

This is the minimal set of classes needed to build our application. Here is our first implementation of this class:

XMPPStream is the backbone of client-server communication system and all messages will be exchanged through it. We also need define the methods to manage connection and disconnection. First, we need a few more accessory methods to handle client-server communications. we place them in the implementation of the class:

The most important method is setupStream, which creates the channel to manage the exchange of messages.

The dispatch_get_main_queue() is a function which returns a reference
to the system level asynchronous execution mechanism, to which we can sumbit tasks and receive notifications.

Offline and Online functions are able to notify other users when we are connected or not. They are defined by sending an XMPPPresence object through the socket. The server will dispatch the notification accordingly.

The connect method is the very important, for it manages the login operation. It returns a boolean value whether the connection was successful or not. At first it sets up the stream, then it uses data stored in NSUserDefaults to decorate the stream and call a connect message. An alert view is displayed if the connection is not successful.

we also implement the disconnect method which is defined as follows:

Now that we have some of the basic functions we can use them in specific cases, for example, when the application becomes active or inactive.

Defining Protocols

We will define two protocols, one for chat notifications like “a buddy went offline”, and one for dispatching messages received. The first protocol includes the description of three events:

The first two messages are related to the presences of a buddy. We will react to these by adding or removing elements to the online buddies table. The third just notifies the server when our client disconnects. The second protocol is simpler, for it manages just the event of message reception.

For the sake of simplicity, to represent the message we will use a dictionary with two keys, @”msg” and @”sender”, to represent the actual message and the actual sender.

Implementing Protocols:

Both protocols dispatch messages from the UIApplicationDelegate. So we extend our main class by adding two properties (one for each delegate).

In the implementation we should remember to synthesize these properties.

Now our main class is ready to dispatch events to delegates. But which events? Those received from the Grand Central Dispatch. If you remember,
we have setup our UIApplicationDelegate as a delegate for stream messages. Such delegates have the following signatures. The names
are pretty self explanatory, but we added comments within to make it even clearer.

Let’s start by authentication when we connect to the server.

When authentication is successful, we should notify the server that we are online.

When we receive a presence notification, we can dispatch the message to the chat delegate.

The delegate will use these events to populate the online buddies table accordingly (see below). Finally, we are left with the message received notification.

In this case, we build a dictionary as requested by the protocol and we call the corresponding method. At this point the core of our system is ready. We just have to make the user interface components react accordingly.

Hooking Up Views and Controllers

We start by modifying the buddy list controller, which manages the first view displayed when the app is started. We add the chat delegate to the interface as follows:

We add a few access methods to point to the application delegate and stream:

We also have to extend the viewDidLoad message to set our view controller as a delegate for the chat protocol.

When the view appears, if credentials have been entered already, we call the connect method of the application delegate:

Finally, we have to add or remove objects from the array of online buddies according to the events dispatched by the application delegate.

If you run the application now and a buddy comes online, the table view gets populated with his username.

Important Note: Depending on the server settings, you might need to wait for some time in order to receive the “new buddy is online” notifications. This time tends to be from 20 to 60 seconds.

To start a chat with the user we have to show the chat view when the corresponding cell is tapped.

We need to add the message delegate to the chat view controller. The steps to do so are similar to those applied to the buddy list controller. We add the delegate in the interface file:

We add accessors to the implementation:

We add the implementation of initWithUser:username:

We declare the message delegate and we also set the text field as a first responder to keyboard input in viewDidLoad method:

To send a message, we need to create an xml element as required by the XMPP protocol and send it over the stream. Here is how we update the sendMessage method:

We are now done! You can test the final implementation of our iOS client. We start the server, iChat and our jabber client. After awhile, both clients should receive a presence notification and recognize each other as online. On the iPhone we tap on the online buddy and the chat view shows up. Now we are ready to chat.

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