Openfire Plugin Development: Message of the Day

Feburary 12, 2007
by Ryan Graham

Plugins provide an easy and powerful way to add features to Openfire (formerly Wildfire), without having to make changes directly to the source. In this and future articles, I will go through various techniques that can be used to add features to Openfire via plugins. The idea for the plugin described in this article came from requests posted on the Ignite Realtime forums. Specifically, forum members asked for the ability to send a user some sort of welcome message each time they logged in. The message could be something serious, such as a company's instant messaging usage policy or something a little bit zanier, like what you find on the lower right-hand corner of Slashdot. In either case, we can add this "Message of the Day" (MotD) feature to Openfire without writing a lot of code, while still covering a lot of Openfire plugin related API's, so we'll start there.

You should be familiar with how to setup a plugin development environment and plugin structure in general; see Resources section details.

I've made the source to this plugin available on the Version 2 Software website. I would suggest that you download the source so you can see it in full, as I only highlight various parts of the code below. I should mention that this and all future Openfire plugin articles will use Openfire 3.2.x for development. Generally, plugins don't need to be modified to work with newer versions of Openfire, but there were some changes between the 3.1 and 3.2 releases that require some code tweaks, so, rather than start with 3.1 and then move to 3.2 we'll just start off with the latest and greatest.

Starting from the Top

Since we're writing a plugin, we're going to have to implement the Plugin interface:

public class MotDPlugin implements Plugin

This requires implementation of the #intitalizePlugin and #destroyPlugin methods, as shown below:

public void initializePlugin(PluginManager manager, File pluginDirectory) {
   serverAddress = new JID(XMPPServer.getInstance().getServerInfo().getName());
   router = XMPPServer.getInstance().getMessageRouter();


public void destroyPlugin() {

   listener = null;
   serverAddress = null;
   router = null;
As you can probably surmise, these two methods are called when the plugin is being loaded and unloaded, respectively. For our plugin, we're going to use the #initializePlugin method to perform the following:

Conversely, in the #destroyPlugin method, we'll undo everything we did in the #initializePlugin method. It's critical that we properly clean up after ourselves since if we fail to do so, our plugin will not completely unload which can tie up resources and fill the error logs.

Where to Store Settings

Now, while we could "hard-code" our message, it would create a bit of a maintenance issue, since if we ever wanted to change the message we'd have to delete the old version of the plugin from Openfire, make our change to the source, compile and package the plugin and then redeploy it. Instead of going through this whole process, we'll piggyback on the existing Jive property API. The property API provides a place to store various pieces of data that our plugin will use without having to work directly with a database or some other external configuration file. An additional benefit to using the property API is that you can easily view, edit and delete property data via Openfire's Admin Console. We store and retrieve property information programmatically through the #setProperty and #getProperty methods using name/value pairings. As an example, take a look at the #setMessage and #getMessage methods:

public void setMessage(String message) {
   JiveGlobals.setProperty(MESSAGE, message);

public String getMessage() {
   return JiveGlobals.getProperty(MESSAGE, "Big Brother is watching.");
When the #setMessage method is called, the value of the String parameter will be saved in the property table with a name "plugin.motd.message". When the #getMessage method is called, the value stored with the name "plugin.motd.message" will be returned, unless there is no property stored with that name, in which case the default value, "Big Brother is watching." will be returned. At this point, you might be wondering why we must wrap the property set/get methods in our own set/get methods? Well, they are really just there to provide easier access to our property data from outside our MotDPlugin class, for instance, through a custom Admin Console page (which I've included with the source).

Where the Magic Happens

How is our plugin going to know when a user signs in? Fortunately for us, the Openfire API provides a number of listener interfaces that can be used to notify us when certain events occur within the server. One of these listener interfaces is the SessionEventListener interface which can be used to alert our plugin when a user signs in. Below, you'll see our MotDSessionEventListener class that implements the SessionEventListener interface:

private class MotDSessionEventListener implements SessionEventListener {
   public void sessionCreated(Session session) {
      if (isEnabled()) {
         final Message message = new Message();

         TimerTask messageTask = new TimerTask() {
            public void run() {

         TaskEngine.getInstance().schedule(messageTask, 5000);

   public void sessionDestroyed(Session session) {
      // ignore

   public void anonymousSessionCreated(Session session) {
      // ignore

   public void anonymousSessionDestroyed(Session session) {
      // ignore
After we add our listener to the SessionEventDispatcher, each time a new session is created (i.e. a user logs in), our MotDSessionEventListener#sessionCreated method will be called. When the method is called, we'll first check to make sure the plugin is enabled and if it is, we'll start crafting our message by doing the following:
  1. Create a new Message object.
  2. Set the "to" field on the message by getting the address of the user that just signed in.
  3. Set the "from" address, using the serverAddress we constructed in the #initializePlugin method.
  4. Set the "subject" using the value from retrieved from the #getSubject method.
  5. Set the "body" using the value from retrieved from the #getMessage method.
Now all we have to do is use the message router to send our message. But, wait! What's the deal with wrapping that method call in a TimerTask? Well, there seems to be a slight timing issue with Spark in that there is a short period of time between when a user signs in and when they can start receiving messages. So, if we send our message immediately the user might not receive it. In order to get around this issue we use Openfire's TaskEngine to delay sending our message for 5000 milliseconds (five seconds).

Down the Road

Now that we have a fully functional plugin, what else could we do with it? One possibility would be to keep a history of the MotD so that when users who haven't signed in for a several days would still be able to retrieve all the messages they missed. Another idea would be to have the plugin automatically retrieve a new MotD from any number of the "message of the day" or "quote of the day" websites that are out there. In any case, I'll leave these exercises to you, the reader.

To sum up, I hope that everyone at this point is beginning to feel like they have a better understanding of what is involved in developing a plugin and what can be done with them. Next time we'll look at using a PacketInterceptor and some of its applications.