User:Afolentes/Web chat draft

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Web chat is a form of online chat that allows users of web sites to communicate with each other in real time. The key difference between web chat and the other types of chat is that web chats do not require users to install specialized chat software. This feature makes them more accessible to non-technical users.

Technology[edit]

The simplest web chats feature interfaces made from dynamically generated HTML pages. In the early years of the web, every message sent to an HTML chat required a form submission and subsequent page load, which meant that there was a waiting period between the time a user could send one message and the time they could begin to type the next one. Receiving messages also required frequent page reloads which caused delays, page flicker, and distracting browser activity.

In 1995 Netscape introduced frames, pop-up windows and server-push which combined produced the ability to have an HTML-based chat almost feel like a real application.

The use of HTML also allowed sites to incorporate fonts, colors, links, and images into their interfaces, giving them a more modern hypermedia feel, which was an advantage over older, but more established text-based chat services like IRC.

In the same year a different approach arose using Java applets, which are graphical applications that can be embedded into web pages. Java chat applets suffer from the same disadvantages as other type of java applets, including long initial page loading times, user interfaces that can often be complicated, and dependencies on Java Runtime Environments.

Newer web technologies, such as Ajax and Flash, have been used as the basis for some chat systems. They are hindered by incomplete support for networking in the underlying Javascript and Actionscript programming languages. Only recently they can make use of efficient chat protocols. However, the trendiness of these technologies, as well as their strong support for graphical and usability features mean it is likely that these types of chats will become more widespread. The open-source project, phpFreeChat implements a full-featured AJAX chat. And the AOL acquired startup, Userplane, is a high profile company which provides flash-based chat and videoconferencing.

Also there are entire chat client applications implemented in Javascript as Firefox extensions, a rare circumstance where web chat technologies developed into real applications.

Uses[edit]

The easy accessibility of web chats allows them to be used by people who would not otherwise spend a lot of time chatting online. Companies use web chat to provide support to their customers, or sales information to their potential customers. Media outlets and specialized websites often hold special, event-oriented web chats, sometimes featuring celebrities or expert personalities.

Web chats can be found on sites known for completely different things, like a newspaper or a brand of liquor. They can also serve as gateways to other chat systems with aren't primarily web-based, like Instant messenger and IRC networks. Of course, there are also web chat sites, devoted particularly to web chat.

See also[edit]