[tl;dr] Die Socialisten are proudly launching Uberch.at, a free-to-use realtime chat widget connected to Facebook’s Open Graph, replacing Facebooks Live Stream plugin which is to be discontinued in October 2012. Uberch.at promises more referral traffic and viral spread of live chats by letting users publish their messages as Open Graph actions. Other features include a live-facepile of active users, @-mentions and added social context. While a white-label, premium version is already in the works, everybody can get the free widget today at https://uberch.at.
In less than a month, according to their roadmap, Facebook will discontinue their Live Stream plugin. The plugin is basically a drop-in realtime chat for Facebook users, available for page tabs, canvas apps or standalone websites. It’s probably the oldest plugin that Facebook is still offering – easily predating the Like button – and was in use by hundreds of millions of users (as far as I remember, some media used it for Obama’s inauguration speech, but I might remember wrong). Truth be told: when the shutdown of Live Stream was first announced, Die Socialisten haven’t been too unhappy about it: For about one year, the plugin was performing rather badly anyway, and in terms of social features and customization it was lacking as well.
So when we left for #camp404, our annual company retreat earlier this year, building a replacement for Live Stream was an easy choice. Two months, tons of feature requests, plenty design work and (load-)testing later, we’re happy to present our new chat widget — enter Uberch.at:
Uberch.at – customize & embed your own realtime chat-widget – for free!
At its core, Uberch.at is an iframe-based realtime chat widget that can be embedded in any website or Facebook Canvas-/Tab-app with a simple line of HTML code. It’s free and it allows some customization like height/width of widget (and yes: it is responsive, and also Retina-ready), two distinct color schemes, English & German localization and default settings for sound and Facebook publishing (both of which the user can change from within the chat). From a technical standpoint, Uberch.at is our first 100% node.js product, a development stack embraced happily by our team since #camp404. The usage of node.js and socket.io is also the reason why Uberch.at transports new chat messages with almost no delay. Realtime, baby!
But there’s more to Uberch.at than exchanging messages really fast:
- Live facepile: As opposed to Facebook’s Live Stream, users can see who else is logged into Uberch.at at the very moment. It’s just more fun when you can see how many other people, and especially if any of your friends, are with you.
- Social context: After authenticating Uberch.at with your Facebook account, messages of friends are highlighted and (optionally) signaled with a sound effect.
- Open Graph integration: Since we are using Facebook as authentication mechanism, it was easy to add Open Graph integration with a custom action called “Chat about”. Users can – optionally! – publish chat messages to their timeline profiles, making them discoverable by their friends. This is especially interesting for boosting the viral spread of a live chat, as published actions will draw friends of the messages’ originators to the chat. Facebook publishing can be configured to be on or off by default.
- @-mentions: Users can easily tag others with @-mention & autocomplete, as known from Facebook. This not only works with everybody logged into the chat, but also with everyone who has recently interacted there and with all of the logged-in user’s friends who are not currently present. This makes for a great mechanism for inviting friends into the chat, as tagged users receive Facebook notifications almost instantly.
We’re also ready to make Uberch.at available in a white-labeled, premium version for business customers soon. This version will include the possibility to run Uberch.at under your own App-ID & Domain (so users won’t have to authorize Uberch.at, but your own app instead. If they’ve already authorized your app before, there won’t be an extra authentication step at all), offer extended insights (think most-active chat users, activities over time etc.) and moderation tools (deleting messages, banning users). The first customers using Uberch.at commercially include ATV for their Internet-aided TV debate show AmPunkt, and radio station Ö3 on their Facebook-Page.
If you’re interested in the premium version of Uberch.at, get in contact!
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