Yesterday, Facebook activated the new chat functionality in my network, and I think it is fantastic. When I first heard about the possibility of a Facebook chat being rolled out, I thought back about the terrible failure that is Myspace Messenger. However I come before you to say, this is not the case with Facebook. Continue reading for an overview of the functionality.
Upon first logging into Facebook, once your network has been included in the roll out of Facebook Chat, the first thing you will notice is a new bar that is docked at the bottom of your browser:
Much like Microsoft Windows, the bottom chat bar is constantly around, however at this point it seems like it is permanently stuck to the bottom. Not that I have issues with it, I am just letting everyone know. Here you will find quick access to your friends currently online as well as another two buttons (titled: Notification and Chat, more on them later).
The Online Friends menu gives you access to your (duh!) online friends:
In case you cannot figure out what is being hidden, I’ve kept everything color coded for you. The images on the left are the user’s default photo. The black blur is where the user’s name appears. And the red blur is whatever the current user’s status message is. The green dot indicates that they are online and active where as if the user appeared below a horizontal line with a moon where the green dot should be, that would indicate that the user is idle. I couldn’t convince any of my friends to not touch their computers/Facebook profile long enough for them to appear idle.
Upon clicking a user, a new pop up appears on the Facebook Chat bar:
Again I have kept the color-coded blurs the same to indicate the same things as before. As you can see, messaging is pretty intuitive and works as expected.. As an added bonus, chat boxes are carried between page loads, so there is some sort of session/chat saving (which scares me). I am not too sure what that “Clear Chat History” link actually does. I mean, what it _really _does. With any regular windows, you have the ability to close [X] the chat window or minimize it [-]. Minimizing it yields what you’d come to expect it to look like:
It adds the very awesome feature of popping up the little red chat bubble to indicate that messages have arrived but not read. The number does change depending on how many missed messages there are.
The Notifications button gives quick access to any updates (for instance, if a friend writes on your wall).
If I had any new events, you would have seen them there. Finally the Chat button. The Chat button is the control panel, per say, for Facebook Chat:
Pop out gives you a “stand alone application” type browser window where all you have is Facebook Chat in a different layout that takes advantage of the full browser area. Perfect for people like me who wanted a stand alone application for Facebook Chat, however not perfect for people like me who use Firefox 2 with it’s girthy memory footprint. Worst case scenario, I restart the Chat application every once in a while, or shutter user Internet Explorer 7. Settings gives you access to (currently) two settings that are pretty uninteresting. Going offline literally takes you offline (meaning you can’t even see people who are online). The status message is also editable from this interface.
Overall a remarkable leap into the extremely polluted and huge messaging market. I am curious if Facebook logs our chats and if so, is there a way to get rid of it.