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IP.Chat 1.1 Dev Update

Development is under way (and wrapping up, in fact!) on IP.Chat 1.1.0, so we wanted to take a few moments to illustrate what new functionality you can expect to see with the next update of IP.Chat.

If you are not already familiar with IP.Chat, we offer a javascript-based chatroom solution that any customer with an active IP.Board license (or support and services contract) can add to their site. The first level of service for the IP.Chat product allows for you to host up to 5 simultaneous chatters, and is available at no cost to you while your license is active. Other packages are also available for sites that expect more traffic to their chatroom. For more information on IP.Chat, please see our IP.Chat product information page.


How many people are in the chatroom?

While IP.Chat does include a hook that shows the number of users in the chatroom on the board index, many users felt that the display of this hook was too hidden (it is at the bottom of the screen, along with the other board stats), and only shows on the board index. As a result, users are frequently unaware when someone enters the chatroom, limiting the amount of activity the chatroom gets.

We've implemented the most popular suggestion to counter this problem: we've added a count to the 'Chat' tab at the top of the screen that displays how many users are currently in the chatroom. This has been implemented as a hook, and as such can be disabled in the Manage Hooks page of the ACP if you have no use for the feature. You will also have the option to disable the count if no one is in the chatroom, and to hide the count on the tab when you are actually viewing the chatroom page itself.




If you allow the count to display while viewing the chatroom itself, the count will dynamically update as users enter and leave the chatroom, allowing you to easily and quickly tell how many people are still in the room just by looking at the tab at the top of the page.

We feel this is a small, but useful, addition to the chat software which should help spur activity in your chat room.


Private Chatting

Another highly requested feature has been implemented for IP.Chat 1.1: private chats. You will now be able to chat within the chat software privately with other users who are logged into chat.

A new ACP setting has been added, allowing you to control which groups are allowed to initiate private chats (note: anyone can receive private chats). When your group is allowed to initiate private chats, the username menu that exists presently for moderator actions will have an option to "Start Private Chat". When clicked, a small popup box appears to allow you to fill in the private chat text you wish to send to the user.




When a new private chat is started, a new tab is created within the interface.



And if new messages are received for inactive tabs, a count is displayed to let you know.



As the name of the feature implies, private chats are a one-to-one relationship between two users only.


What if I don't want to talk to you?

It's natural that you may not wish to converse privately with certain members of a community you are a part of. A "block user" feature has been added to allow you to prevent specific users from sending you private chats within the chat room.

There is a new user control panel page where you can block and unblock users.



You can also block and unblock users directly within the chat interface. AJAX is used to save the option, and your preferences are updated dynamically (users will be blocked immediately). The user is not made aware that you have blocked them. Instead, any private chats will simply be ignored on your part, as if it was never initiated.





Wrap-up

IP.Chat has proved to be a stable, useful, and popular addition to our community software line-up. Many of you are making good use of the chat software on your site, and we hope these new additions improve and expand the functionality available in the software in useful ways for you and your users. We have some good ideas for future features, however we wanted to keep a focused approach for 1.1.0 first. Stability and security is of the utmost importance to us. The new functionality introduced for IP.Chat 1.1.0 lays the foundation for many new useful features in the future.

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There are cool things happening at IP.

One minor point of discussion :

Why do we need this small popup? I think it is better to add a new tab at that point before the user has responded. Just open a new tab and let us put our message there.

"When clicked, a small popup box appears to allow you to fill in the private chat text you wish to send to the user."

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These are great additions, especially the private chat and the ability to block people from sending you private chat requests. There are many other features I'd like to see added, but it's good that some progress is being made on this front.

I'd really like to have a "protected groups" option in the ACP that prevents those groups from being kicked (so my moderators can't screw with me and kick me out of the chat). :D

..Al

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A lot of features most of which where over-due IMHO.

You are still pricing yourself out of the market though for those who want more than the 5 member limit cap.

I suggest you up the limit from 5 to 10 and half your prices so it becomes a more viable option to other chat rooms in the market. Many of which do video chat for a fraction of your costs (there are even free ones).


P.S. I still do not understand either why the chat runs off-server and has to be hosted by you. When a chat is used for customer support some quite sensitive information has to be passed over.

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I never understood why it is limited to 250 users online? If I was to use IP.Chat it would have to be more flexible, as I during my peaks e.g. would have 1000 users online at the same time and in off-peak periods I would have 10 users online. Even if I would only have 250 users online during my peaks, it would feel ripped off for having 10 users online for 95% of the time.

Bottomline: It needs to be a bit more flexible, IMO. Maybe make the plans so the number of users are off a daily average and not a hard-limit, as it is now.

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Honestly, it would be nice to see some integration into IRC as well. While having a chat on your site is nice, I want it to be a portal to something that's up all the time, and people can 'idle' in, with mIRC. I use mIRC religiously, and if I had the convenience of popping up my browser to initiate chat in there, it would be a lot easier and simpler for me.

IP.Chat by itself just doesn't have a lot of value alone, but with the IRC connection I'd buy it in a heartbeat. The Java IRC clients are mediocre at best, and the only other option is Mibbit which doesn't integrate nicely. It'd be nice to see an integrated product (like IP.Chat) be able to do this.

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[quote name='Hercules' date='06 April 2010 - 06:30 PM']
The Java IRC clients are mediocre at best, and the only other option is Mibbit which doesn't integrate nicely. It'd be nice to see an integrated product (like IP.Chat) be able to do this.

Agreed! Then most of the gaming forums would be happy to use IP.Chat because at one point or another active gaming communitites having game servers use IRC extensively.

I personally use mIRC 24*7.

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I agree with Yuksel. Why do you need a popup? Would be much better to open the tab and only activate it on the other end when the first message is sent. That's how all the other chat and IM apps do it.

I'm assuming the back end on IPS's end is a custom solution, so there really isn't a way to plug an IRC client into that. I do agree with would be nice, but IPS isn't an IRC server. If it was, would make self hosting a lot easier. But it's not worth it really. After all there are plenty of IRC clients out there you can use with your own IRC server.

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just wondering does the block user from private chat take into account if you have a user ignored, so does it automatically block a user if you've ignored them on the board?

Also whats the point of the count, you still have to go to the board index to see who's in a room, would have been nice if onhover it displayed a list of users in the chat room or something.

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  • Management

Regarding mIRC - we are not trying to create an IRC service, there are plenty of solid solutions for those still interested in IRC. From our experience, most admins are opposed to anything that takes users outside of their community. The benefit of IP.Chat is that it's tightly integrated within the community - we're not terribly interested in expanding that to external clients, which would also be a logistical issue with the current infrastructure (maintaining permissions, who is chatting, etc.)

In regards to a self-hosted application, I'm afraid this will not happen. One of the things that prompted us to provide this as a service vs product was the fact that it's our environment and we can develop the service around that. Unlike IP.Board, Gallery, Blog, Downloads, etc... we do not have to be at all mindful of the dozens of various server configurations and we can completely customize the environment to suit our needs. What's more, a significant number of our customers would not be able to self-host anyway as most hosts are strongly opposed to applications that maintain constant/near-constant connections. Unfortunately, it's just not a viable option that justifies the development time... I think you'll find this to be the reason that the vast majority of chat services are just that -- services vs self-hosted products.

Thanks for the feedback folks, we're very excited about the new changes!

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The chatroom on my site gets used ONCE a week, now on the day I may have 30-40 people in there which means I have to go for the 50 max user option, but on 6 other days it wouldn't even be used. It should be an average user limit not max user and this puts me off purchasing.

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[quote name='marklcfc' date='07 April 2010 - 11:37 PM']
The chatroom on my site gets used ONCE a week, now on the day I may have 30-40 people in there which means I have to go for the 50 max user option, but on 6 other days it wouldn't even be used. It should be an average user limit not max user and this puts me off purchasing.

I agree with this, I think some monthly things would be much better like 250 users per month but to stop things like people refreshing the page and taking the limit down make one session last an hour so a person can enter the chatroom and leave as much as they want in that hour and will only count as one user.

The way they are billing is terribly inaccurate and am not surprised after the quality of hosting, good at software not so good at hosting and ip.chat needs a little clean up, especially since there is no info on how much load ip chat puts on the servers, just some random prices pumped out at us, take it or leave it.

These packages don't consider sites like mines or yours where there are short bursts of activity.

Also any news on guests being numbered ?
Turning the sounds off for everyone by default they are highly annoying in a busy environment only useful when a few chatters are on.

Sort of basic chat features bit it is early I know but I would be grateful for some feedback.

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