There aren’t too many easy solutions in Drupal. Drupal is awesome but requires quite a bit of work to implement its features. So it is always a pleasant surprise to find something that works well straight out of the box.
I have a need for chat. Information is one of the selling points of my site, DOCResource.org (yes, membership is free but the market is still crowded) and that info comes from a customer base that is geographically dispersed and not usually aware of others like themselves. So an easy chat solution is a really big deal to me. And this is it:
Iflychat offers a significantly better polling method for the free Drupalchat module. You can run the module for free using AJAX or the long polling method but there are performance issues with this approach. I ran it myself for a while and it works and will provide you with a way to see if it will work for you. But after you test out these polling methods, create an IFlychat account for free and try that. Much better performance and better integration. You can read more about that on their web site. The feature is free for the first ten simultaneous users. For me, this will be a perfect way to get my site up and running as I grow my customer base. And one other thing. Support appear to be good as I was able to talk to the developer over chat on a Sunday morning. Every question answered.
well, i have finished the chat stuff. Here is my need list
- custom buddy lists
- automatic access to admin via chat for support – no request, upon enrollment
- public chatroom
- available/unavailable status
- turn chat on/off
using drupalchat and the user relationship modules will allow you to do all this except for the on/off stuff. at least, i haven’t found it yet. I had to create a default relationship for all members (called Get Support!) that is linked to the admin account in chat. that way, when they are granted access to the site for the first time, they get a chat window that will show public chatroom and admin. no buddy lists to build for that. then, they can access their own user account pages and issue invitations to others to build their own buddy lists. Very nice and it only took one day to implement.
there is one other aspect. The ajax and/or long polling methods don’t scale. And I believe that I can see a performance issue simply from turning the ajax method on. I think that I can. So I am going to look at implementing a node.js server. if that is going to be a problem i’ll use the iflychat service. at least the free one until i can figure out where to go. and if it proves popular, i may just pay for it.
I have all these in sand and they seem to be fine and the functionality that I want is available from them. so I have installed them on Prod and configured them as well. Seem to be working just fine. I now have a chat app. I created a default one way relationship called Get Support! and then added that to the Drupaltalk stuff. Also added the appropriate permissions like i mentioned yesterday. So now, new users will be added to that relationship and will be able to see me automatically in the chat feature. if i am online. that way I can provide support to the pioneering members of my site.
The integration from User Relationships and Drupalchat works as I hoped it would. Out of the box, Drupalchat for authenticated users allows all users to see everyone. But with the integration, you can create a buddy list.
the one other thing that i need is a way to have any authenticated user communicate with me. especially in the beginning so that I can provide a high level of support for the pioneering members. I believe that can also be done.
Here is what you see from the Drupalchat config screen regarding User Relationships:
DRUPALCHAT USER ONLINE LIST CONTROL
All authenticated users
User Relationship module
This determines the method for creating the chat buddylist.
User Relationships Role Names to integrate with
The singular form of User Relationships Role Names (e.g. buddy, friend, coworker, spouse) separated by comma.
Today I am adding a couple modules to enhance the UX, I’ll post later to tell what I found regarding Chat and these modules – Invite and User Relationships.
I need to get a chat service working. the “content” of my site consists of two things – News and User Stories/Experiences. They want the news to read what has happened to others and they need each other to share stories that are highly personal and painful to discuss. People don’t come to my site to see pics of interesting things, they come to get answers. So chat is where it is at.
I have Drupalchat installed on my sandbox and it worked well right away. Just config the permissions to authenticated and everyone can chat. And there is Public chat too. You can go offline but you still show up, just as offline. and you can still receive messages when you are in that state. but it works well for what it is. I’m looking further. If a user can opt in or out on their own then it is cool. there are some integration features that can be used.
Setting up a Node.js server for high scalability. This is important so I am pasting the next section right from Drupal.org.
If you use node.js as backend in this module, then it will be highly scalable. There are two ways to use this backend:
- First way is to setup your own node.js server and install Nodejs Integration module. This is currently under development.
- If you don’t want to or can’t setup your own node.js server, then you can checkout our ready to use node.js server. If you opt for this method, then there is no need to install any additional software/package on your web server. To do so, please visit and register at http://drupalchat7.botskool.co.in. Currently, we are in the process of upgrading our node.js servers and we will go live in the end of June.
If you use normal AJAX or long polling technique, then this chat module will completely integrate itself with Drupal without requiring installation of any additional software or package on the web server. It will utilize the resources of the same server on which the Drupal site is hosted and use AJAX or long polling method for updating chat messages. These techniques aren’t scalable.
Meaning it will kill your server with a lot of users. How many I am not sure but from the posts that I have seen it appears that performance can be a big problem.
This company, IFlyChat, will provide you with an outsourced method of scaling drupalchat. I was able to chat with the developer right away and get answers. Very nice service. They have a free version that supports 10 users. You configure it with configured keys much like mollom.
themes – main thing for today.
Forums – most of this is already in place
chat rooms – see drupalmodules.com for this one
Soc Media integration
Blogs – for individual members
Pics/gallery – pics of the indiv prison, members, etc
polls – what is the hardest
birthdays – look for a module – installed
resources – forum but with the category of resources – jobs, etc
search – search the site
ads – spaces/blocks/regions
chat – find module
taxonomy – beging the vocab