Review: CuteChat
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Published: 15 Jan 2007
Abstract
A clean and crisp ASP.NET chat application also employs the use of AJAX to make this web based application the perfect tool for any website that wants to set up chat rooms.
by Steven Swafford
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Introduction

CuteChat from CuteSoft.net is an exception tool for any website that may be looking to provide the ability for their users to chat with each other. The cost of this product is very reasonable and provides a variety of license types to suite your needs. At the time of this review the cost ranged from $299.00 to $3,999.00.

Installation

Product delivery is in the form of a Zip file rather than a standard setup project which in itself does not present a problem. The one negative aspect via this type of delivery is it leaves the entire setup process up to the client as a manual process rather than utilizing a GUI based setup and configuration process. On a positive note, the folks at CuteSoft have done an excellent job of providing clear and easy to follow install instruction which allows you to have this application fully installed and configured within 10-15 minutes based upon your experience. After extracting the Zip file to my selected location, creating my virtual directory, and finally executing the included SQL Server script, the application was up and running.

Figure 1 - Initial Welcome Screen

 

Configuration

I will be the first to admit that configuration and administration of any web based application is the driving factor to the overall use of the entire application and I have found that CuteChat accomplishes this quite well. Also, as a developer I absolutely love the fact that this product allows me a variety of choices; one such choice that I feel is attractive is the integration into the following products.

1.     Community Server

2.    DotNetNuke

3.    IBuySpy

4.    Snitz Forums

5.    Rainbow Portal

By providing a mechanism to integrate CuteChat into these products anyone who may use one of these products may find that CuteChat provides that final piece of the puzzle to host a complete community friendly website.

Next is yet another option, such as what Database you want to use. Coming from an Oracle database background, I always enjoy when a vendor takes the extra step to provide an alternative option rather than the use of SQL Server. Your database options are:

1.    SQL Server

2.    Oracle

3.    Access

Now that I have touched on two of the key points I feel this product offers and rather than jumping into a developer's perspective, I will simply say that developers should give the developer's guide a read.

Once CuteChat is installed, the next step is the configuration of the overall configuration, word filters, and room administration to name a few. This is all managed and accomplished via a user friendly interface.

Figure 2 - Administration Console

 

 

 

Once again the folks at CuteSoft have done an excellent job with the administration interface and within a couple of minutes I had completed the basic configuration and established a chat room.

Next is user management. The UI here is simple to use and performs exactly what is expected in a clear and simple manner.

Figure 3 - Member Administration

 
 
 
 
 

Figure 4 - Role Management

Figure 5 - Editing Profiles

 

 

As you can see, each of these screens is clear and concise and allows any administrator to quickly manage his/her users with simply a few clicks of the mouse.

 

End Use

Now that you have configured the application, you are ready to present your users a mechanism of chatting with each other based upon a specified topic and all in an absolutely clean and easy to use interface.

Figure 6 - Chat Room Listing

 

 

Now I am ready for my users to begin chatting with one another. The chat interface provides a variety of functions such as:

1.    Font type and size

2.    Private messaging

3.    Use of emotions and avatars

4.    Skin selections

While these are not all of the options, I feel the above four items are an attractive feature to the end users.

Figure 7 - Chat Window Interface

 

Type your message, hit "Send" and strike up a conversation. Finally, your end users can view the chat partners profile as well as determining if he or she is online.

Figure 8 - Profile Interface

 

Summary

With the variety of options this product provides, from integrating with other products such as Community Server or DotNet Nuke to the administration and end user interface, this is a solid chatting application that will more than likely fit most of the requirements when it comes to providing chatting support to your web site. Go to CuteSoft.net and test drive the demonstration yourself or even better yet, download the demo and install it on your own server.

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