Chat has always been an immensely popular function on DF. It adds a dynamic aspect and allows more personal contact. I have always enjoyed our chat meetings. As the site has grown in size and number of website users, so have the requirements of chat software.
Some years ago it became clear that our software of that time could no longer hold up. Some chat meetings has up to 200 members chatting away. It was crazy, frantic but nice. Too bad that the popularity & activity would often put an unexpected end to the fun. Either the chat would start messing up or the server would give up on us. Errors and fixing never ended.
So at the beginning of last year, we were lucky enough to receive donations to buy expensive chat software. Many thanks. You know who you are. :vibes:
The new chat would not only end all our problems, but also get awesome functionality with it. And to top it off we paid the software company $500 to deliver even more cool functions and tighter integrations.
How cool is that? Well, unfortunately it wasn't. Headaches galore!
It turned out that the software was cool for small to medium websites, but our traffic of millions of users per month was way beyond what the software could deal with. It completely nuked our servers. Not a real problem I thought. Then just restrict the function to a select group of members: donating members. That didn't help at all, and it still nuked the servers.
3 months later with numerous 'fixes', consequent server crashes later, many angry messages to the developers for messing up time after time and more than a few headaches later, there was only one conclusion. The software was a complete and utter fail. It would never run on our server.
The only option was to remove it and wait for the next major version of it and see if that works. So I installed a simple chat function for the time being. Surely less good than the advanced chat we had. But that’s life. That next version (2014) still did not work, so it was time to ask for a refund.
Instead the developers came up with an alternative plan: We would setup a dedicated chat server and run the software fully from there. This would not jeopardize the website and would (according to them) allow us to run our beloved chat functionality. Not only that, it would be fully SSL encoded. So I registered a dedicated domain, got us a cheap virtual server (VPS) for it, and setup a bunch of things they needed. They installed and setup the software and now we are working on the integration of the chat site into this website.
I have no clue how it will go. Hopefully we may see that pretty chat bar appearing at the bottom of our screens soon. But it would not be a big surprise if this new adventure will lead to a new series of fails, site crashes and similar headaches. Hopefully it will work!!!
So this is where we are with chat. If this fails we will go for something else.