Plugin Review – BuddyPress Instant Chat

Version Tested V 1.6

BuddyPress Instant Chat provides a one to one chat page for members of a BuddyPress social site. You use it by visiting the chat page, searching for the member you want to chat with, and then entering your chat message.

Installation is easy, simply install and activate the plugin and then insert the shortcode into your desired chat page and make it available to your members by adding the page to your menu. Users can then access chat by loading the chat page.

There are some basic configuration options, You can change the size of the message avatar, choose from several options which type of username is displayed (Username, Display Name, Email Address etc.) and you can also choose to only allow chat between friends.

There is also the option for the admin to access the chat records of past conversations.

I think this chat system is fundamentally flawed. When a user looks up another user there is no indication of that individual being online or not, furthermore when you send a chat message to a user, that user does not get any indication that someone wants to chat with them. This means that in order to have your one to one chat with someone you would first have to message them to see if they are ready and book a time for a chat! That being the case why would you not simply continue sending messages?

The chat interface itself is pretty clumsy, when you first go into the application you are presented with minimal information, just a simple search box, once the user has worked out they need to chat to a person they enter the username and then a page reload gives you the option to chat to that person. Clicking on this gives you a message box to enter your message. Assuming the other person is online and knows that they have to go to the chatroom to talk to you then they can respond.

Chat is limited to one person at a time and while you are chatting you are stuck in the chat page. I think most people will find this chat application not something they would entertain on their site.

Overall I give this plugin 5 out of 10, Whilst it is simple to install its extremely limited features and lack of a notification system mean for most people it will be unusable. There are no special features that might redeem it.

My Star Rating

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I've been setting up and managing BuddyPress social networks for a few years. I moved from Ning and other platforms and have come to BuddyPress looking to make sites with similar features to them.


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