Syncing Message History

MAM Strategies

Fetching history from the server is accomplished with Message Archive Management (MAM). New XMPP clients frequently use naïve methods of querying history that result in long wait times for history, or frozen UIs. However, a robust strategy for fetching history has not been previously documented. This section documents strategies used by clients in the wild, as well as implementation recommendations for MAM.


  • Allow the user to send a message in response to history fetched from the server as quickly as possible
  • Do not generate dozens of notifications for old messages

Implementation Notes

  • Don't treat history like normal incoming messages. If querying lots of messages, aggregate and commit them to the data store (assuming a transactional database) as a group. Do the same for updating the UI and displaying notifications (ie. display one notification, not dozens or perhaps hundreds as messages come in).
  • Look up the last message in your datastore before sending initial presence, otherwise you may receive a message before you get the last ID and end up with a gap.
  • If using paging, committing one page at a time to the DB/UI is a natural way to break up large transactions and provide the user with quicker feeling updates.
  • If mam:2#extended is supported, query using after-id and before-id and fall back to using the time of the last or earliest message (start and end) if not.


  • On client start iterate through all items in the roster
    • If no messages exist in the local archive:
      • Query in reverse order (in case the server breaks it up by page and we end up committing pages separately) with end: now && limit: X (where X is some configurable number or a guess at a page number based on screen size, etc.)
    • Else:
      • Query with after-id: <last message> or start: <last message time> (making sure that the last message was pulled from the DB before we send initial presence)
  • If the user scrolls to the top:
    • Query in reverse order with before-id: <first message> && limit: X or end: <first message time> && limit: X