Babel BBS

Babel BBS was a cross-platform client/server instant messenger, bulletin board and bug tracker solution written in Java and JSP.

It has long since ceased to be in active development or use.

Instant Messenger

Babel BBS implements a proprietary byte-stream protocol with an additional XML-RPC interface.

There are desktop instant messenger clients written in Visual Basic, Java and Perl as well as a web-based client. There is also a plugin available for the popular Trillian client. The XML-RPC interface ensures that it is simple to write clients in almost any language (for example there have been demo clients created in Ruby and Mozilla).

Bulletin board

The Babel BBS bulletin board consists of two parts:

1) A Slashdot-like site with rotating discussions, front page and categories.

2) A more traditional bulletin board with static sections containing discussions on set topics.

The bulletin board supports user-created polls.

Sections on the simple bulletin board can be customised using a powerful web-based template manager.

All of the pages on the simple site are also available as RSS 0.91 (XML) feeds to enable users to keep up with discussions in their favourite newsreader.

When not logged in, a user can be notified via Jabber or Email upon receipt of a private message (internal Babel BBS mail).

The slashdot-style board supports multiple unique sites running simultaneously under the same engine

Bug Tracker

The Babel BBS bugtracker supports multiple projects, user notifications, anonymous bug reports, bug severity and everything else you'd expect from a fully functional bug tracker.

There is currently not a known full Babel BBS version online. A limited-feature version however is running with the web chat client on and the second, simple form of bulletin board running on

Babel BBS is an open source project with the development effort originally coordinated by the technical team of USIT, a now defunct organisation at the University of Sheffield Union of Students. Since USITs demise, Babel BBS has been continued to be overseen by its main technical contributers.

Some Technical Details

Babel BBS is built on top of a MySQL database using JDBC for all SQL queries, but any complian RDBMS will do.

It uses JSP to produce all of the pages on the slashdot-style bulletin board and servlets to generate the pages on the static bulletin board.

The Babel BBS architecture is extremely extensible.

The Future

It would be nice to:

  • refactor the existing source code
  • move to a database persistence layer such as Hibernate
  • make the components of Babel BBS able to run singly (we already have the bugtracker able to run on its own and using Hypersonic as its database)
  • provide fuller Jabber integration, possibly using Jabber as the core of the IM system
  • implement a templating system for the slashdot-style bulletin board (we have an engine, but it needs integrating and web front end creating!)

This page last updated 29 April 2010