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netConsole: Chat Program

The chat program is an easy way for you to provide your visitors with the ability to chat on your site. The chat program allows multiple installations (allowing you to have many different chat rooms if you wish), offers three modes of viewing and interacting with other chat users and is easily customized with a little knowledge of HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

Installing Chat

The chat program is installed from the Package Installer section of your netConsole. Once you select "chat" from the drop-down menu and click the install button, you'll be prompted for the directory that you want the chat installed in.

The path you provide here is relative to your webshare directory. So, for example, if you type "chat", netConsole will install the chat-related files into a directory called "chat" within your webshare directory. If the directory that you specify does not exist, the netConsole will create it.

It is important to know that by installing the chat program into an existing directory containing files, you run the risk of overwriting any files in the directory with the same names as any chat-related files. Therefore, we recommed that you install chat into empty directories only.

Using Chat

Once the chat program has been installed, your visitors can then begin using it immediately. The chat interface is intuitive and allows users to:
  • choose which mode they want to use for chatting: frames, no frames or java
  • post to all members of the chatroom
  • send private messages to other users
    To send a private message you must select the member name from the "Send a private message to:" drop-down menu.

Three Modes for Chatting

The chat program offers your visitors three modes for using the chat program: HTML with frames, HTML without frames and Java.
  • Frames mode
    The advantage of using this mode is that the bottom frame automatically refresh itself to receive new messages.
  • No Frames mode
    This mode is good if you do not like frames or your web browser doesn't support them. When you use the no frames version, you have to click the "Post/Check Messages" button every time you want to check your messages.
  • Java mode
    This interface has the ability to automatically refresh itself. Because of that, you don't have to worry about refreshing any pages, which makes this mode very quick.

    Note: Due to a bug in the JIT compiler in Microsoft Internet Explorer 6, your users might experience problems using this mode of the chat program. This can be avoided by disabling the "JIT compiler for virtual machine" in the advanced tab of IE's Internet Options.

Using ezSecure and Chat

The chat program works seamlessly with another package that is installed through the netConsole -
ezSecure. ezSecure provides you with a means to restrict access to a directory by username and password. When you install the chat program into a ezSecure-protected directory, the username provided to access the directory will be become the visitor's user in the chat program as well.

Configuring Chat

You, as the administrator, are given a few configuration options for your chat program.

Configuration: Specifying a Log File

To make administration of your chat program easier, the configuration page in the netConsole allows you to enable logging. Simply supply the name for the file to be used and hit the update button to enable this feature. The log file will appear in your /logs directory and will contain time/date, user and IP address information. Using this, you can do a number of things, including banning malicious users. By default, logging for your chat programming is not enabled. To disable logging at any time, simply remove the name of the logfile from this field and hit the update button.

Configuration: Banning IPs

To ban a user you merely have to add their IP address to the ban list in chat's netConsole configuration section. You may want to ban a user for trolling or other malicious behavior.

Configuration: Specifying a Logout Page

This allows you to specify a page that users will be redirected to when they logout. The path can be in one of the following formats:
  • page
  • /page
  • /webshare/page
  • webshare/page
By default, users are redirected to your homepage.

Customizing the Chat Program

As you would expect, the chat program's user interface can be modified to match your website.

Conveniently, the majority of the modifications you will likely make can all be done in one file, config.css. This file resides in the directory you installed chat into and contains cascading style sheets (CSS) information that controls the background colors, colors, font faces etc. of the chat-related pages. The "stock" config.css defines styles for 5 page elements:

  • BODY - determines the style for the main chat pages.
  • .private - determines the style for private messages.
  • .user - determines the style for user enter/exit messages.
  • .error - determines the style for private messages.
  • .message - determines the style for messages sent to everyone in the room.

Althought you cannot add new CSS elements without editing the other chat-related pages, you can add other properties to the elements that already exist within the config.css.

Note: Editing the .private, .user, .error and .message elements will not affect the way the Java chat mode looks.

In addition to editing the CSS file, you can also easily customize your chat by replacing the logo displayed at the top of the chat-related pages. Simply save an image in GIF format as logo.gif, and upload it to the directory containing your chat.

Note: Customizing the chat program beyond the scope explained here is possible with some knowledge of HTML. You are free to modify any of the files installed with chat.

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