tinyChat

Intro

Last weekend (Feb 8 - Feb 9) we participated in Staticshowdown hackathon. The idea behind the hackathon was to build HTML application that doesn't require server code. According to the rules it was possible to use 3rd party services like Firebase, GoInstant etc. Hackathon was organised by Divshot who provided hosting for static resources.

We loved those constraints because we do believe that there is large set of applications that should be built that way: static HTML page and lot of JavaScript (browser APIs and various services).

Idea

Some time ago we saw interesting demo by Kevin Rose of his new blog idea called 'tiny'. We thought about it and came up with idea for our hackathon project. We called it 'tinyChat'.

Seems like there are basically two options for communication right now:

We wanted somethings in between. We wanted text chat with video background and no voice.

We wanted chat where you can show your real emotions while still using mainly text. No more (heart), (thumb up), (smile), (kiss), (hug).

We wanted something without registrations, usernames, passwords, history etc. Somethings super simple that you can use with your friend or partner.

Why do you need authorization if you can see the face of the person you are chatting with?

When this can be useful:

Demo

Our demo is running on our site. You need to use some modern browser like Chrome or Firefox.

But still it might not work in some cases because of browser version, operating system, some network problems etc. If it works your page will look like this:

tinyChat screeenshot

Technology

We decided to built it using modern web technologies. WebRTC was around for some time now. As wrapper for some low-level API in webRTC we used JavaScript library and infrastructure provided by GoInstant. Basically, our code is very similar to the code in their documentation. We concentrated more on user experience while building our app.

WebRTC allowed us to built anonymous chat. We don't store anything about chat users on servers. There is no chat history.

Problems

We experienced some problems with our demo. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it doesn't. We suspect mostly networking issues but might be also some browsers' related problems. E.x. we failed to run demo in the same public network between MacOS and Win 7 machine (either Chrome or Firefox).

What can be added

Definitely more things can be added to this prototype. E.x. it would be nice to have:

Conclusion

We made this app in less than 48 hours. We really like building for the modern web. If you like our app and/or have some suggestions - send us email or tweet.

PS

By the way, we won Staticshowdown Hackathon 2014. We enjoyed working on tinyChat, we enjoyed using it and we glad that judges liked it as well.