3 min read
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on Feb 10, 2017
How Inspire Chat built an interactive web, iOS, and Android group chat app with PubNub.

Waving hand

Good News! We’ve launched an all new Chat Resource Center.

We recommend checking out our new Chat Resource Center, which includes overviews, tutorials, and design patterns for building and deploying mobile and web chat.

Take me to the Chat Resource Center →

This is a guest post from Farn-Yu Khong, software engineer at Interestix Corp, makers of Inspire Chat.


Sometimes a little pep talk can push us to the next level of performance. Whether it’s a student studying alone for a big exam, or an individual working alone on a challenging project, the Inspire Chat app, a web and mobile group chat application, can be a tool to provide motivation and inspiration, be it famous quotes, emoticons, images, or video clips.

With the Inspire Chat app, people with similar interests can post positive, encouraging, and inspiring messages to keep each other motivated in real time. In this post, I’ll outline why we picked PubNub, and the value it provided us.

pubnub powered chat

Serverless Infrastructure and a Variery of SDKs

We chose PubNub for its reliable realtime infrastructure and easy to integrate SDK available across many platforms. Using PubNub Angular JS, iOS, and Android SDKs, InspireChat is available on the web, iOS, and Android.

With PubNub, we no longer have to worry about building our own server infrastructures with realtime chat capabilities. Back when we first started Inspire Chat project, we customized, maintained, and hosted our own real time chat server called ejabberd.

The amount of effort put into maintaining it was enormous.

First of all, ejabberd used Erlang, which meant we had to learn a new programming language. Not only that, we have to build our own custom libraries for Android, iOS and Javascript to interact with the backend. All these prevented us from focusing our effort on building better customer facing applications. We are glad and more satisfied after moving to PubNub. PubNub has rich documentation, easy to understand “quick starts” examples, and sample apps across a wide range of platforms allow us to sprint forward building better chat applications with less time and effort.

In addition, PubNub libraries on all platforms share similar API calls. That means, after learning how to use PubNub on one platform, the learning curve of integrating PubNub on another other platform is greatly reduced. Again, this cuts down major chunk of development time.

Chat Bells and Whistles

Most importantly, PubNub has a ton of additional nifty features, such as Online Presence Detection and Storage and Playback, allowing us to build a media rich chat app with better user experience with even less effort.

Using PubNub Online Presence Detection, not only our users can see how many users are currently chatting online…

they can also see who is joining and leaving a particular chat room in real time.

In addition, they can also see who are currently actively contributing (typing) in a chat room with realtime typing indicators.

Realtime Chat Typing Indicators

With PubNub Storage and Playback, we can easily retrieve chat conversations in chat rooms without implementing our own backend servers for storing and retrieving conversations. This again reduced our development time and cost significantly.

In the near future, we plan to take advantage of other PubNub features, such as mobile push notification, security encryption, and more.

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