The Developer's Guide to mod_muc_light

This is an in-depth guide on mod_muc_light design decisions and implementation.

Source, header and test suite files

All source files can be found in src/.

  • mod_muc_light.erl Main module. It implements the gen_mod behaviour. It subscribes to some essential hooks and exports several functions, mostly callbacks. It handles integration with mod_disco, mod_privacy and mod_roster. All operations that take place outside the room (including the room creation) are implemented here. Last but not least - this module prevents service-unavailable errors being sent when an offline user receives a groupchat message.

  • mod_muc_light_codec.erl A behaviour implemented by modules that translate the MUC Light internal data format to stanzas for clients and vice versa. Besides specifying callbacks, it implements generic error encoder function.

  • mod_muc_light_codec_legacy.erl An implementation of XEP-0045 compatibility mode. Note, that while some parts of the legacy mode are implemented directly in mod_muc_light.erl, the stanza translation takes place here. It does not utilise the full potential of the MUC Light extension but allows using the standard MUC implementation in XMPP client libraries for prototyping or the transition phase. Not recommended for production systems (less efficient than modern codec and requires more round-trips).

  • mod_muc_light_codec_modern.erl An implementation of a modern MUC Light protocol, described in the XEP. Supports all MUC Light features.

  • mod_muc_light_commands.erl MUC Light-related commands. They are registered in the mongoose_commands module, so they are available via the REST API.

  • mod_muc_light_db.erl A behaviour implemented by database backends for the MUC Light extension.

  • mod_muc_light_db_mnesia.erl A Mnesia backend for this extension. Uses transactions for room metadata updates (configuration and affiliation list) and dirty reads whenever possible.

  • mod_muc_light_db_rdbms.erl An SQL backend for mod_muc_light. create_room, destroy_room, remove_user, set_config, modify_aff_users execute at least one query in a single transaction. room_exists, get_user_rooms, get_user_rooms_count, get_config, get_blocking, set_blocking, get_aff_users execute only one query per function call. get_info executes 3 SELECT queries, not protected by a transaction.

  • mod_muc_light_db_rdbms_sql.erl SQL queries for mod_muc_light_db_rdbms.erl.

  • mod_muc_light_room.erl This module handles everything that occurs inside the room: access checks, metadata changes, message broadcasting etc.

  • mod_muc_light_utils.erl Utilities shared by other MUC Light modules. It includes the room configuration processing and the affiliation logic.

The header file can be found in include/.

  • mod_muc_light.hrl It contains definitions of MUC Light namespaces, default configuration options and several common data types and records.

There are 2 test suites and one helper module in big_tests/tests.

  • muc_light_SUITE.erl Main test suite, checks all the most important functionalities of the MUC Light extension.

  • muc_light_legacy_SUITE.erl muc_light_SUITE.erl equivalent that uses XEP-0045 compatibility mode.

  • muc_helper.erl Provides handy iterators over room participants. Used in MUC Light suites but in the future could be used in muc_SUITE as well.

Hooks handled by this extension

  • offline_groupchat_message_hook handled by mod_muc_light:prevent_service_unavailable/3 - Prevents the default behaviour of sending service-unavailable error to the room when a groupchat message is sent to an offline occupant.

  • remove_user handled by mod_muc_light:remove_user/2 - Triggers DB cleanup of all data related to the removed user. Includes a broadcast of a notification about user removal from occupied rooms.

  • disco_local_items handled by mod_muc_light:get_muc_service/5 - Adds a MUC service item to the Disco result. Uses either a MUC Light or a classic MUC namespace when the legacy mode is enabled.

  • roster_get handled by mod_muc_light:add_rooms_to_roster/2 - Injects room items to the user's roster.

  • privacy_iq_get, privacy_iq_set handled by mod_muc_light:process_iq_get/5 and mod_muc_light:process_iq_set/4 respectively - These callbacks handle blocking settings when legacy mode is enabled.

  • is_muc_room_owner, muc_room_pid, can_access_room, can_access_identity used by mod_muc_light:is_room_owner/3, mod_muc_light:muc_room_pid/2, mod_muc_light:can_access_room/3 and mod_muc_light:can_access_identity/3 respectively - Callbacks that provide essential data for the mod_mam_muc extension.

Hooks executed by this extension

  • filter_room_packet by codecs - Allows mod_mam_muc to archive groupchat messages.

  • room_send_packet by codecs

  • forget_room by mod_muc_light_db_mnesia and mod_muc_light_room - It is a part of mod_mam_muc integration as well. A hook used for MAM cleanup upon room destruction.

Advantages and drawbacks (compared to classic MUC)

The new MUC implementation brings quite a few benefits to the table:

  • It is fully distributed - Does not have SPOF, concurrent senders do not block each other, especially in large rooms. Message broadcasting is being done in sender c2s context.
  • It does not use presences - Much less traffic and stable membership information, especially on mobile networks.
  • It provides built-in blocking support - Instead of blocking traffic like Privacy Lists do, it handles blocklists internally, preventing the blocker from being added to or by blocked entities.
  • Less round-trips - A room can be created and configured with an initial list of occupants with a single request.
  • Versioning - Reduces traffic and allows clients to reliably and quickly detect that the room state has changed.
  • Isolation - Processing errors are contained in a sender context, not affecting other room occupants.
  • Fully customisable room configuration - Your users can store any meta room information you allow.

Drawbacks are:

  • Requires DB transactions to ensure Room state consistency.
  • Fetches the occupant list from DB for every message that is broadcasted.
  • Due to concurrent message broadcast, it is possible for occupants to receive messages in a different order (given the messages are broadcasted at the exactly same time).
  • With stream resumption disabled or when resumption times out, user may miss a message in a following scenario:
  • Message A archived
  • Message B archived
  • Message B delivered to the user
  • User loses connection
  • Resumption timeout
  • User queries MAM for all messages after B and misses A

Ideas for Further Development


  • Add more tests for negative cases


  • Add optional per-room processes to avoid the need of DB transactions and ensure message ordering (maybe "hard"?).
  • Riak backend
  • Redis backend


  • Room metadata cache (maybe "medium"?).