XEP-0422: Message Fastening

This specification defines a way for payloads on a message to be marked as being logically fastened to a previous message.
  • Kevin Smith
  • Dave Cridland
© 2019 – 2019 XMPP Standards Foundation. SEE LEGAL NOTICES.


WARNING: This document has been automatically Deferred after 12 months of inactivity in its previous Experimental state. Implementation of the protocol described herein is not recommended for production systems. However, exploratory implementations are encouraged to resume the standards process.
Standards Track
0.2.0 (2019-12-30)
Document Lifecycle
  1. Experimental
  2. Deferred
  3. Proposed
  4. Stable
  5. Final

1. Introduction

There are many situations in which a message contains a payload that adds additional information to the context of a previous message. Examples of this might be a user sending a reaction (e.g. a thumbs-up emoji) to another user's message, or a server adding information on a link previously posted to a chat room, a user updating/editing the content of a message they've previously sent. This specification provides a generic wrapper to fasten such new payloads to the message to which they apply.

2. Discovering support

If a client implements message fastening (that is, it is capable of understanding the payload when received), it MUST specify the 'urn:xmpp:fasten:0' feature in its service discovery information features as specified in Service Discovery (XEP-0030) [1] and the Entity Capabilities profile specified in Entity Capabilities (XEP-0115) [2].

Example 1. Client requests information about a chat partner's client
<iq type='get'
  <query xmlns='http://jabber.org/protocol/disco#info'/>
Example 2. Partner's client advertises support for message fastening
<iq type='result'
  <query xmlns='http://jabber.org/protocol/disco#info'>
    <feature var='urn:xmpp:fasten:0'/>

3. Use Cases

3.1 Wrapped Payloads

In order to mark that a payload applies to a previous message, a message is sent containing an "apply-to" element in the namespace "urn:xmpp:fasten:0", with attribute "id" that contains the Unique and Stable Stanza IDs (XEP-0359) [3] origin-id of the stanza to which it applies, the children of which element are those that apply to the previous message (these are "wrapped payloads" because they are wrapped inside the <apply-to> element). The id of this apply-to-containing message is unimportant, and the type SHOULD be "normal" (KS: I don't care about this, it just seemed easier to spell it out).

If "user2@chatservice.example" wanted to send their approval (using a fictional 'i-like-this' element) for a message previously sent to chat room "chatroom@chatservice.example" with origin-id "origin-id-1", they would do the following.

An <apply-to> may contain several fastenings, but they must all be of the same type (the same qualified name)

Example 3. User2 sends fictional approval
<message id="2" from="user2@chatservice.example" to "chatroom@chatservice.example">
  <apply-to xmlns="urn:xmpp:fasten:0" id="origin-id-1">
      <i-like-this xmlns='urn:example:like'/>

3.2 External Payloads

Where the payload being fastened needs top-level child elements of the stanza holding the fastening (e.g. if a message edit uses the top-level <body> child), these can be listed in <external> child elements of the <apply-to> element, in the same namespace. An <external> element has two attributes: the 'name' attribute MUST be included, and is the name of the top-level stanza child element; the 'element-namespace' attribute specifies the namespace of the element, or if absent indicates that the element is in the same namespace as the stanza (eliding the stream namespace in this way avoids issues when transporting fastenings across combinations of 'jabber:server' and 'jabber:client' streams.

If "user2@chatservice.example" wanted to send an edit (using a fictional protocol) of a message they previously sent with origin-id 'origin-id-2', and the edit protocol used top-level <body> and <custom> elements, it would look like this.

Example 4. User2 applies
<message id="4" from="user2@chatservice.example" to="chatroom@chatservice.example">
  <apply-to xmlns="urn:xmpp:fasten:0" id="origin-id-2">
    <edit xmlns='urn:example.edit'/>
    <external name='body'/>
  <body>Hi there</body>
  <custom xmlns='urn:example:custom'>New data</custom>

Note that the first child of the <apply-to> should be the fastening type, and the <external> should follow. If a receiving entity finds unknown namespaced elements inside an <apply-to> with qualified name different to the fastening type, they should be ignored (this allows us to introduce new fastening children in the future, similar to <external>, and maintain backwards compatibility).

3.3 Replacing fastenings

A fastening of a given type (qualified name) can be replaced by sending a new fastening of the same qualified name - as with the original fastening there may be several fastenings of this type (qualified name), but all fastenings must be of the same type. The child payloads of the <apply-to> element then logically replace all fastenings previously applied by the sending entity with the same qualified name (name and namespace).

For example, if user2 wished to update the fastening from the first example they would send:

Example 5. User2 applies
<message id="6" from="user2@chatservice.example" to="chatroom@chatservice.example">
  <apply-to xmlns="urn:xmpp:fasten:0" id="origin-id-1">
      <i-like-this xmlns='urn:example:like'>Very much</i-like-this>

3.4 Removing fastenings

Fastenings of a given type (qualified name) can be removed by sending a new (empty) fastening of the same qualified name only (no other attributes and no children) and setting an attribute 'clear' with value 'true' on the <apply-to;> element. This logically replaces all the previous fastenings from this sender of this qualified name with an empty list of fastenings.

For example, if user2 wished to remove the fastenings from the first example they would send:

Example 6. User2 applies
<message id="6" from="user2@chatservice.example" to="chatroom@chatservice.example">
  <apply-to xmlns="urn:xmpp:fasten:0" id="origin-id-1" clear="true">
      <i-like-this xmlns='urn:example:like'/>

3.5 Interaction with stanza encryption

Where the contents of a fastening are sensitive and must be encrypted (e.g. if a message editing spec. uses fastening, the contents of the edit are sensitive), it is suggested that the plaintext contains an <apply-to> with no content other than the id and an attribute of "shell" whose value is "true", to indicate that the apply-to is a shell with no content. This allows a server to still collate the fastened stanzas, while not allowing it to read the content. The encrypted content MUST then include the full <apply-to> element, which a client MUST use post-decryption and ignore the shell element.

Example 7. Encrypted fastening
<message id="9" from="user2@chatservice.example" to="chatroom@chatservice.example">
  <apply-to xmlns="urn:xmpp:fasten:0" id="origin-id-1" shell="true"/>
  <!--This is encrypted-->
  <apply-to xmlns="urn:xmpp:fasten:0" id="origin-id-1">
      <i-like-this xmlns='urn:example:like'/>
  <!--end encryption-->

4. Business Rules

In order for a message to be able to have fastenings applied to it it must contain a Unique and Stable Stanza IDs (XEP-0359) [3] stanza id.

A message must only contain a single "apply-to" element (i.e. a message cannot be fastened to multiple other messages).

Fastenings are not to be chained - an <apply-to> element MUST reply to the original message to which it applies, not to an earlier fastening-containing-message (the 'id' attribute of an <apply-to> element must not be that of a stanza that itself contains an <apply-to>). For example, if this spec is used in the future to wrap multiple subsquent message edits for the same source message, each <apply-to> would contain the original stanza's id, not the id of any subsequent fastening stanza.

Some payloads should not be allowed to be fastened to a particular message by all users - e.g. if used to wrap message edits, it would be expected that only the original author be allowed to edit their message. It's the responsibility of specifications for protocols to be fastened to destribe such "who is allowed to do this?" applicability rules.

Multiple fastenings of the same type may be present in a single attach-to element, but fastening types may not be mixed in this way.

TODO: (future XEP) special handling by the archive to allow grouping and querying of things fastened to a message (this is going to involve following the externals and potentially wrapping them inside the apply-to when fetching from the archive).

5. IANA Considerations

This document requires no interaction with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) [4].

6. XMPP Registrar Considerations

6.1 Protocol Namespaces

The XMPP Registrar [5] includes 'urn:xmpp:fasten:0' in its registry of protocol namespaces (see <https://xmpp.org/registrar/namespaces.html>).

7. Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Marvin Wissfeld, Florian Schmaus, Philipp Hörist, Jonas Schäfer, Ralph Meijer and others who've replied on-list for their feedback.


Appendix A: Document Information

XMPP Standards Foundation
Standards Track
Last Updated
Approving Body
XMPP Council
XMPP Core, XEP-0001, XEP-0030, XEP-0115, XEP-0359
Superseded By
Short Name
Source Control

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Appendix B: Author Information

Kevin Smith
Dave Cridland


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


Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this specification (the "Specification"), to make use of the Specification without restriction, including without limitation the rights to implement the Specification in a software program, deploy the Specification in a network service, and copy, modify, merge, publish, translate, distribute, sublicense, or sell copies of the Specification, and to permit persons to whom the Specification is furnished to do so, subject to the condition that the foregoing copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Specification. Unless separate permission is granted, modified works that are redistributed shall not contain misleading information regarding the authors, title, number, or publisher of the Specification, and shall not claim endorsement of the modified works by the authors, any organization or project to which the authors belong, or the XMPP Standards Foundation.

Disclaimer of Warranty

## NOTE WELL: This Specification is provided on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, express or implied, including, without limitation, any warranties or conditions of TITLE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY, or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. ##

Limitation of Liability

In no event and under no legal theory, whether in tort (including negligence), contract, or otherwise, unless required by applicable law (such as deliberate and grossly negligent acts) or agreed to in writing, shall the XMPP Standards Foundation or any author of this Specification be liable for damages, including any direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages of any character arising from, out of, or in connection with the Specification or the implementation, deployment, or other use of the Specification (including but not limited to damages for loss of goodwill, work stoppage, computer failure or malfunction, or any and all other commercial damages or losses), even if the XMPP Standards Foundation or such author has been advised of the possibility of such damages.

IPR Conformance

This XMPP Extension Protocol has been contributed in full conformance with the XSF's Intellectual Property Rights Policy (a copy of which can be found at <https://xmpp.org/about/xsf/ipr-policy> or obtained by writing to XMPP Standards Foundation, P.O. Box 787, Parker, CO 80134 USA).

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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. XEP-0030: Service Discovery <https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0030.html>.

2. XEP-0115: Entity Capabilities <https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0115.html>.

3. XEP-0359: Unique and Stable Stanza IDs <https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0359.html>.

4. 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/>.

5. 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 0.2.0 (2019-12-30)
    Preparation for extending MAM
  2. Version 0.1.2 (2019-12-16)
    Typographical fixes
  3. Version 0.1.1 (2019-09-11)
    Typographical fixes
  4. Version 0.1.0 (2019-09-11)
    Accepted by vote of Council on 2019-09-11.
    XEP Editor (jsc)
  5. Version 0.0.1 (2019-09-04)

    First draft.


Appendix I: Bib(La)TeX Entry

  title = {Message Fastening},
  author = {Smith, Kevin and Cridland, Dave},
  type = {XEP},
  number = {0422},
  version = {0.2.0},
  institution = {XMPP Standards Foundation},
  url = {https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0422.html},
  date = {2019-09-04/2019-12-30},