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What is GT-Chat?

GT-Chat is an open source web chat application that requires no database. It uses very little server space and relatively little bandwidth (compared with some other chat applications). It is speedy and offers a number of features and add-ons. GT-Chat was released in 2008 and the most recent edition, 0.96, was released in 2009. However, version 0.96 was never completely finished and the latest stable version is 0.95.

Further development of GT-Chat has not materialized since 2009, but the application is still available for download from the application’s website as well as from open-source repositories such as Sourceforge and GitHub.

What is GT-Chat used for?

Web chatting provides a casual environment for conversation over the Internet. Users may interact with friends as well as strangers, and “talk” through text as they would in person. GT-Chat and other versions facilitate the conversation, and include enhancements for functionality and entertainment. Supported languages include English, German, and Russian.

Among the features available with GT-Chat are traffic statistics, emoticons, room creation by both administrators and non-administrators, private rooms, public text logging, simple color adjustments, private messages, and more. Add-ons include a list of users in a specific chat, display of online time in the chat, how many users are in a chat, and an extended color palette. Users may be put into groups of guests, moderators, administrator and chat master. Administrators have the power to kick out or ban trouble makers in the application.

GT-Chat can run on Unix server operating systems (OS), though the server must support the scripting language Perl 5.005 or higher. You'll need at least 2 megabytes (MB) of space on your server. All modern browsers should support GT-Chat.

How do I install GT-Chat?

Installing GT-Chat take a little technical know-how. Before taking on the task make sure you’re comfortable using FTP to transfer files to the web server, have the ability to adjust file permissions on the server, and can make configuration modifications to Perl files. If you think you can handle those steps then check out the installation instructions at the GT-Chat website or GitHub for details on how to get GT-Chat up and running on your hosting account.

GT-Chat is written in Perl, and should work fine on any Unix server running Apache web server. While many hosts and servers can handle the requirements of GT-Chat, they may not all allow chat applications due to bandwidth concerns. Take the time to find out if your hosting plan supports the GTChat program before adding it to your site.

What are some alternatives to GT-Chat?

Since GT-Chat hasn’t received an update since 2009 you might want to consider alternatives that are under current ongoing development. We’ve scoured the internet and found the following popular free chat scripts for you to consider.

phpMyChat is a popular option that is offered as a one-click installation by some hosting providers making installation easy. Even if phpMyChat isn’t offered as a one-click installation by your hosting provider phpMyChat boasts an easy installation process and easy-to-use admin and user interfaces. phpMyChat offers many features such as support for 37 languages, avatar uploading, and support for video posting. If you’re looking for a free open-source chat script written in PHP that will run on either a Linux or Windows server phpMyChat is a compelling option.

Another option to consider is phpFreeChat. As the name suggests phpFreeChat offers an open-source version that is completely free to use. It is simple to install, requiring only a few lines of script added to your existing website HTML. phpFreeChat powers one of the simplest chat rooms available. So if you’re looking for a chat script to add-on to an existing website, and want to be up and running in minutes, phpFreeChat is a great option.

If you’re looking for a chat script with a few more features check out BlaB!. BlaB! 7 is the latest free version of the chat script and was released in April of 2015. BlaB does require a database, but supports several formats including MySQL, SQLite, or PostgreSQL. BlaB offers some of the best accessibility and support among free chat scripts. It is supported by all modern browsers, is HTML5 and CSS3 compliant, and is 100% resizable so it works well on virtually all devices. If you’re looking for a full-featured chat script check out the paid versions of BlaB! with add-on features such as unlimited chat rooms, free installation service, hidden (protected) chat rooms, MP3/Video/map sharing, and more.

One last noteworthy option is NedChat. It is a PHP script that does not require a database, making for a very simple installation. It also supports some neat features like the ability to draw pictures in chat, support for all modern browsers, custom emojis, and many avatar choices (or custom avatar upload). NedChat is worth pointing out because it has a module specifically designed for integration into the CMS osDate, for those interested in adding a chat feature to a dating site.

Questions & Answers

If I install GT-Chat and run into trouble where can I get support?

Unfortunately, GT-Chat is provided through free community forums, but they are only available in German. If you need support for GT-Chat expect to have to work through a language barrier.

What’s the difference between server-push and client-pull in chat applications?

The terms server-push and client-pull describe the method that the chat application receives updated information. In server-push the server sends new information to the chat user’s browser as soon as it is received. In client-pull the chat user’s browser pulls updated information off of the server every few seconds. The benefit to the server-push method is that it results in near immediate updating of information on the user’s browser, and saves bandwidth. The client-pull method will often let information sit on the server for several seconds between refresh cycles, and also wastes bandwidth by refreshing when no new content is available.

Why does GT-Chat support both server-push and client-pull to update chats?

While server-push is preferable from both a bandwidth and speed perspective it does place additional technical burdens on the server. As a result, additional server configuration may be necessary to get server-push working correctly, or it may not be possible at all depending on the version of Perl installed on the server, other server details and permissions, or if a visitor is using a proxy server to access the chat application. If you want to use GT-Chat, and are concerned about this issue, you should read up on the details at the GT-Chate website or check out some of the alternatives.

Can GT-Chat be embedded in a frame in an existing web page?

GT-Chat is designed to take up an entire viewport. It will not render well if you implement a custom hack to embed it in an existing website. However, you can change one line of code to cause chat to open in a new window. This will allow you to add a link to the chat app on your existing site, and then launch the chat app in a new window. For details check out the FAQ at the GT-Chat website.

Does GT-Chat keep a record of the chat conversations?

Yes, GT-Chat does maintain a chat log where site admins can review past conversations as necessary. The logs are best viewed within the administration view menu.

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