Judging by the comments on Facebook, it seems very few people are pleased with how the social network has integrated instant messaging. Most people complain that the interface is clunky and intrusive and even a little bit unreliable. Despite its drawbacks, Facebook Chat has some redeeming qualities and one of the most important is that it allows developers to use the Facebook servers and instant messaging functionality to build their own Facebook messaging interfaces.
Chit Chat for Facebook Web Messenger is a prime example of an instant messaging application built on top of the Facebook IM functionality. The difference between Chit Chat and Facebook Chat, however, could not be greater if they had been based on two entirely different platforms. A comparison of the two shows a number of differences in features, function, and usability.
The first version of Chit Chat for Facebook was a desktop application. While it was a brilliant piece of software, it wasn’t something that could be accessed from any device running a browser. It was solely limited to Windows PCs. In this respect, Facebook Chat had a clear advantage… until now.
Chit Chat for Facebook Web Messenger has just been released in order to provide cross-platform, browser-based chat functionality for the Chit Chat interface. Now users can log on to Chit Chat from almost any device that runs a supported browser and enjoy the easy functionality they have come to expect from Chit Chat.
This new online Facebook messenger version of Chit Chat narrowed the competitive lead that Facebook Chat had in the area of cross-platform compatibility. The only advantage Facebook Chat has now is that it runs in Internet Explorer and Chit Chat does not. Most people will consider this inconsequential given that IE is losing market share daily to the better, faster, cleaner offerings from Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.
When it comes to ease of use, there has never been any real contest. Whereas people constantly complain about Facebook Chat and how difficult and annoying it can be to use, they routinely praise Chit Chat for its clean user interface and well thought out customization options. While the Web version of Chit Chat has fewer customization options than its desktop predecessor, it still carries on with an outstanding user interface.
The “tab” interface was introduced in the first version of Chit Chat and became an instant success. The idea is simple, each person that you are talking to gets his or her own tab or button at the top of the screen. These interactive tabs then tell you when a message is being sent by that friend and how many messages you have yet to answer. They also let you switch easily between conversations and end conversations with just a quick click. The whole thing is neatly contained within a single browser window, which you can minimize, move, or close any time. It is the definition of an intuitive interface and certainly far more functional than what is provided by Facebook Chat.
One thing that seems to be a common complaint about Facebook Chat is that it adds clutter to Facebook where users would rather not see it. Users, it seems, are not opposed to the idea of Instant Messaging through Facebook, but rather are opposed to having it clutter up their Walls and interfere with what they normally do on Facebook. They would rather have the chat functionality separate from the standard Facebook interface and have said as much in blog posts.
Of course, this is exactly what Chit Chat for Facebook offers. For users who wish not to be distracted by Facebook news feeds and other such features, Chit Chat provides a nice way to IM friends without ever having to log on to Facebook. For users looking to both chat and interact with Facebook, but who want dedicated browser windows and full screen displays in both cases, Chit Chat provides a solution for them as well. It seems that Chit Chat did a better job of meeting the needs of Facebook users than Facebook itself did.
When it comes to customization, Chit Chat provides a plethora of features to make the Chat experience personal. The newest version of Chit Chat, in an effort to be lean and fast, has done away with some customization options such as the ability to set font size and color. Chit Chat offers far more customization options than Facebook Chat. It allows you to set audio and visual alerts, change the look of the buddy list, and enable transition effects. The only thing that Facebook Chat provides that Chit Chat does not is the ability to block specific friends from seeing that you are online.
Multi-chat and Video Chat
There is one place where Facebook Chat excels and that is in IM communication with multiple people at once. If you are looking to have a sort of “conference chat” then Facebook Chat is the only place you will find such functionality. This would probably be more useful if it were not constrained to the cramped and poorly laid out Facebook Chat window. Unfortunately, Facebook does not provide for multichat functionality in the API they release to developers. This means the function is off-limits to Chit Chat. This is a drawback, to be certain, but a minor one given how infrequently multichat is used.
The one other feature that Facebook provides that, again, is not available to third party developers is video chatting through Skype. Once again, this is a feature that works far better as a standalone than integrated into Facebook. In fact, not having video conferencing and focusing strictly on IM functionality is a major positive factor for Chit Chat. Leave the video conferencing to Skype, in its own window, and be free of the hassle and clutter of the Facebook integration.
Chit Chat for Facebook has better functionality than Facebook’s own integration of instant messaging barring a few “API Restricted” features. Chit Chat For Facebook Web Messenger does give a fresh feel to the concept of Facebook chatting and is worth trying for if you are bored with the usual chat windows.
You can give it a shot and see for yourself the things I mentioned above. Start chit chatting! Visit the official Chit Chat page to get started – Chit Chat For Facebook Web Messenger