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Instantly Add Chat To Hacker News (envo.lv)
304 points by mayop100 on July 12, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 64 comments

This is nice. But a couple of thoughts:

1. Use will die down over time as people won't want to browse with it running constantly. Perhaps you could create Chrome/Firefox addons with acceptable privacy policies which just popup a notification or display something in your status bar if you access a page with users that are chatting? Just to remind you that the functionality exists...

2. I just saw someody create a room with the same name as another room. They couldn't see the room I had created...

3. A little slow currently perhaps due to the number of users. Maybe that's just my machine.

4. Was surprised to see that everybody dropped trying to sound clever as soon as chat is realtime. Is a reputation system needed always?

5. Some way of bringing conversations back which you've closed...

> 4. Was surprised to see that everybody dropped trying to sound clever as soon as chat is realtime.

AND now we have a troll in the main chat. What concerns me a bit is that a lot of people are actually logged in with their facebook and twitter accounts — which the system joyfully points about anyone in the chat to.

This system mixes identification and anonymity in a way that may be harmful precisely to those who authenticate through their strongest credentials.

4. Was surprised to see that everybody dropped trying to sound clever as soon as chat is realtime. Is a reputation system needed always?

Not surprising at all considering the typical interpersonal communication has been getting faster, shorter, and less intelligent for decades.

I believe it's more about chat being more personal, where comment conversation is meant be more professional by convention. In chat, we're not bound by the rating system, and there's not really an official topic.

This is the same business idea as gooey.com, a dot com bust http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/02/my-name-is-james-a-and-...

However, they required that you download a separate piece of software. This AJAX and feels more spontaneous, easy to get started, probably resulting in a much higher growth rate.

Our main business is integrated chat software. This is just a side project to showcase our tech. This was put together in day by a new employee.

Props to the new hire.

Props to you for finding/hiring him.

The floating tweet/like box is atrocious. Otherwise, kind of neat.

We were thinking maybe we'd remove it if someone retweets us : )

While the envolve plugin is extremely interesting, the HN implementation would probably be far more useful if you scraped the HN username for logged-in users and displayed it. Anonymity seems to kill the utility of chat. For those that wish to participate anonymously, you can always offer the option to opt out.

Using jQuery, this should be trivial:


The current implementation uses an iframe and so they can't read the data out of the iframe (same-origin policy).

This would require injecting javascript on to news.ycombinator.com. It wouldn't be so bad, but it would require user interaction to do that. If it requires user interaction then it'll be less used.

Granted, they could make an extension which does that -- but now you have to download something just to use chat. That's a big barrier to entry.

You can't do that. Though it seems like the sites are composed, they are in fact just embedded viewports (iframe). The only way to scrape username, at the moment, is to turn that app into a plugin/bookmarklet, or at least bootstrap from one.

EDIT: Or API/embedded script, but that of course requires the cooperation of site's owner.

We have a full API for doing single sign on. Bug PG and maybe we'll get it up on HN for all to see with account integration.

Can you imagine embedding this by Google on any search results page, so we can discuss "hotel las vegas" queries with other participants in real time, luckily with hotel agents answering questions as well? And now SEO would be used to find the most intensive chat topics. Neat!

Using this as I add in this comment - talking about hackathons with somepeople in the news.ycombinator.com channel, and looks like I might have found a much more interesting way to spend my weekend!

Sites with strong identities (like HN) have a lot to gain with something like envolve. We get a bit more freeform discussion that's still organized.

The only two concerns I have are 1.) will we lose historical discussions since they're played out in an external system? and 2.) Flamewars - they're bad enough when there's some forced wait-time between replies. Bringing in real-time chat could make it much, much worse :)

Awesome job to the envolve guys!

Thanks! We're working hard to address both those issues. Much more to come soon.

Well, I have a couple of thoughts:

While the FB chat layout has its many benefits such as non-techy users will be (most likely) used to it, the small chat area really isn't enough for big sites such as HN or Reddit where there can be many many users online at once.

It would be nice if it could plug into fb chat, google+, AIM/AOL, etc. however, I'm not quite sure how viable of an option that is.

It also seems that anyone can make a chat (I could be wrong), but that seems like a silly add-on for a site with as many users as HN because it will only take one troll to bother everyone.


Awesome Job

Yes, it would be nice if you could move it to the side. With widescreen monitors the horizontal space is often more than 50% unused (and it is on HN on my screen). So you can use the entire right half of the screen for chat and you wouldn't use precious vertical space.

Seems like a good time to mention #startups on irc.freenode.net

This is rather cool, however I was alarmed when another user was able to inject javascript and throw up an alert window in my browser. This begs the question, does this wrapper site do anything to protect me from XSS? Does it prevent someone from stealing my cookies? http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2008/08/protecting-your-coo...

Nice, except for the on by default noises. Ugh.

Thats one of the biggest complaints we get on http://console.fm, everyone loves the service though!!! Envolve is fantastic!!!

There's actually an option to default the sound to off by default if you want to. Just set defaultSoundMode : false in the envoOptions

Strange that it's slow. Where are you located? Our servers are in the SF bay area.

Is there a particular reason you went with short polling over sockets? I see your building on jetty at the moment, which is pretty tried and tested I guess, but pushing a huge volume of json objects around over the http.

I had a holy s&% moment. I have seen this sort of tech before, but this is just a perfect implementation. It could become my default way to browse social sites. Hello social shopping.

Edit: Holy S$^, Holy S*$^.

I felt the same way when I tried it out. This is exceptionally cool. My first instinct was to tell my friends about it. Only problem is this has to have a lot of users in order for it to be useful on random sites. Other than that though, this is killer.

Pretty cool implications for helpdesks (login page of an enterprise application), website design reviews, discussions of news articles, and so much more. I really like it.

If you want to add it to your own website you can do so by just cutting & pasting some javascript. Check it out: http://www.envolve.com

this is how it looks on a maximized browser on an 11" macbook air:


not enough room to see all of the text.

Gotcha. Yeah, maybe we'll do what facebook does and reverse that last window so it overlaps and in the other direction.

We have a bookmarklet you can install. Check out http://envo.lv We also have a "Chat About This" button that site owners can add to their own pages.

Follow us on twitter too for updates on our upcoming developer tools launch. We're http://www.twitter.com/getenvolved

Very cool and very well done, but on Opera for some reason the HN background starts cycling through various colors.

Now would also be a good time to mention HN's IRC channel, which is #startups on irc.freenode.net ( http://webchat.freenode.net?channels=startups ).

I'd like to see this running on my Google TV, so that I can chat about the latest celeb trial that HLN is providing wall-to-wall coverage for. That's not quite true, they usually manage to mix in Tweets and Youtube videos. Anyway, the point is that it'd make certain channels far more interesting.

Edit: Via the Google TV SDK, of course.

I could imagine this being very useful for the initial building of a following for a startup. Let's say some people share your passion - they can talk to people about it, and rally to get some features done or something.

Good job guys, I quite like the implementation, I hope to use it myself actually.

Absolutely! Throw us up on launch day so you can get instant feedback on your product.

I think its fun. Kept lot of us engaged for a while. But you need to build context around the chats. Meanderers will meander. Great chances of it going out of control. Which are the best sites to sell this to?

What a great idea! It'd be cool if there were some way to create color coded mice/pointers so people could point to places on the page, or find some way for users to highlight some parts. I love it!

In Opera, my "this page is still loading" bar keeps popping up every 200 ms or so. Extremely distracting, and (in my case) it obscures the lower bar of envo.lv.

Require users to sign in with their HN info before being able to chat, that way you don't have a ton of people trolling in the chat with fake usernames.

I'm so impressed! It'd be nice if there was support for IRC commands since it seems to be omnipresent in chat applications. :)

Thanks! Not yet, but we're adding features as fast as our little fingers can type...

We (Envolve) are hiring developers, so if you want to talk to us, drop an email to info@envolve.com.

This is really nifty, though it's a little slow redirecting on my end (in SF). :) Great job!

Startups Seeking Devs chat was created 15 minutes ago. Let us see what happens! heh

Nice work! But I wish when I clicked a thread, it brought me to that URL as a room.

It would be great if it was just a JS plugin rather than redirecting.

This is very cool! How does it work with my websites SSL?

not sure what you mean... it uses an iframe to display the webpage and adds the chat to the parent page.

got it. Thanks for answering my question.

really cool idea...wish I could pin a couple chat windows open at once...

annnnd it's crashed.

This is very well done

I made a node.js bookmarklet about 5-6 months ago that is sort of the same concept. It is not nearly as full-featured, though. If anyone would like the source, just let me know, as it is a dead project.

It's a bit different in methodology than what OP posted, as it will run on any website, without having to go to another website (or refresh, or anything) but it violates a bunch of browser protocols in the process ;) (it is safe though)

Just make a bookmarklet out of this, or run it on any website.

   javascript:var s = document.createElement('script');s.type='text/javascript';document.body.appendChild(s);s.src='';void(0);
p.s.: no promises it wont explode ;)

I'd like to check that out. Can you point me to it or email me (check profile for address).

Will do!

Don't forget to send it please.

So did I! chattrr.net - code is there too

Seems like a fairly standard node thing to do!

p.p.s please dont judge the code that loads too harshly, had to mash a bunch of stuff together really quick to get it up after I saw this, heh

Best business application is you know you're going to get a ton of buzz in a very short period of time. Get people in a chat and get them excited, keep those customers at a much higher rate.

I second this KL. I was thinking, I want these guys to super succeed.

Very well executed.

It seems slow, like it's built using AJAX/PHP/MySQL. What stack powers this thing?

FUD. Just because something is built using AJAX/PHP/MySQL doesn't mean it's slow.

Regardless, it does seem quite slow.

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