XEP-0190: Best Practice for Closing Idle Streams

This document specifies a best practice for closing an XML stream that is perceived to be idle.
Carlo von Loesch
© 2006 – 2012 XMPP Standards Foundation. SEE LEGAL NOTICES.


WARNING: This document has been obsoleted by the XMPP Standards Foundation. Implementation of the protocol described herein is not recommended. Developers desiring similar functionality are advised to implement the protocol that supersedes this one (RFC 6120).
Superseded By
RFC 6120
1.1 (2012-03-06)
Document Lifecycle
  1. Experimental
  2. Proposed
  3. Active
  4. Deprecated
  5. Obsolete

1. Introduction

RFC 3920 describes several ways to terminate an XML stream, but does not always make a clear statement about which to use. This can lead to faulty implementations. In particular, closing a stream that has not been in use for a while is very often achieved using a connection-timeout error, then closing the socket. This can lead to loss of data. Therefore this document proposes a practice that will avoid such data loss.

Note: The recommendation described herein has been incorporated into RFC 6120 [1].

2. How to Close an Idle Stream

2.1 Handshake Stream Shutdown

As shown in the basic "session" example in the Simplified Stream Examples (4.8 of RFC 3920), it is a valid transaction to close the outgoing stream by sending


then wait for the other entity to close its stream, like this:


and shut down the underlying TCP connection.

This will ensure that, should the other entity have transmitted any data, it will arrive and be processed before the TCP connection is terminated.

Special care MUST be taken that under no circumstance further packets may be written to the socket after the stream was closed, until the other side shuts down the socket.

On the outgoing TCP connection, an implementation MAY do a read-only shutdown of the socket, as long as the other side will safely be able to send its stream termination token.

2.2 Handshake Failure

In case the other entity fails to close the stream within a reasonable time frame, the entity that started the handshake is entitled to terminate the TCP connection. Since the stream has already been closed, it is correct not to produce an error condition.

3. Implementation Notes

Existing implementations should be updated to use the 'Handshake Stream Shutdown' strategy when shutting down streams that are no longer needed. This strategy is fully backwards-compatible and does not introduce any known communication problems.

4. Security Considerations

This proposal introduces no new security aspects.

5. IANA Considerations

This proposal requires no interaction with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) [2].

6. XMPP Registrar Considerations

This proposal requires no interaction with the XMPP Registrar [3].


Appendix A: Document Information

XMPP Standards Foundation
Last Updated
Approving Body
XMPP Council
Superseded By
RFC 6120
Short Name
Source Control

This document in other formats: XML  PDF

Appendix B: Author Information

Carlo von Loesch


This XMPP Extension Protocol is copyright © 1999 – 2024 by the XMPP Standards Foundation (XSF).


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Appendix D: Relation to XMPP

The Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) is defined in the XMPP Core (RFC 6120) and XMPP IM (RFC 6121) specifications contributed by the XMPP Standards Foundation to the Internet Standards Process, which is managed by the Internet Engineering Task Force in accordance with RFC 2026. Any protocol defined in this document has been developed outside the Internet Standards Process and is to be understood as an extension to XMPP rather than as an evolution, development, or modification of XMPP itself.

Appendix E: Discussion Venue

The primary venue for discussion of XMPP Extension Protocols is the <standards@xmpp.org> discussion list.

Discussion on other xmpp.org discussion lists might also be appropriate; see <https://xmpp.org/community/> for a complete list.

Errata can be sent to <editor@xmpp.org>.

Appendix F: Requirements Conformance

The following requirements keywords as used in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119: "MUST", "SHALL", "REQUIRED"; "MUST NOT", "SHALL NOT"; "SHOULD", "RECOMMENDED"; "SHOULD NOT", "NOT RECOMMENDED"; "MAY", "OPTIONAL".

Appendix G: Notes

1. RFC 6120: Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP): Core <http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6120>.

2. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is the central coordinator for the assignment of unique parameter values for Internet protocols, such as port numbers and URI schemes. For further information, see <http://www.iana.org/>.

3. The XMPP Registrar maintains a list of reserved protocol namespaces as well as registries of parameters used in the context of XMPP extension protocols approved by the XMPP Standards Foundation. For further information, see <https://xmpp.org/registrar/>.

Appendix H: Revision History

Note: Older versions of this specification might be available at https://xmpp.org/extensions/attic/

  1. Version 1.1 (2012-03-06)

    Changed status to Obsolete because it is superseded by RFC 6120.

  2. Version 1.0 (2007-01-04)
    Per a vote of the XMPP Council, advanced status to Active.
  3. Version 0.1 (2006-07-26)

    Initial version.

  4. Version 0.0.2 (2006-06-30)
    Second draft.
  5. Version 0.0.1 (2006-05-31)
    First draft.

Appendix I: Bib(La)TeX Entry

@report{von loesch2006n/a,
  title = {Best Practice for Closing Idle Streams},
  author = {von Loesch, Carlo},
  type = {XEP},
  number = {0190},
  version = {1.1},
  institution = {XMPP Standards Foundation},
  url = {https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0190.html},
  date = {2006-05-31/2012-03-06},