Why Your Chat App Needs the Message Persistence API

4 min read Michael Carroll on Sep 26, 2023
Why Your Chat App Needs the Message Persistence API -Blog.jpg

Persistent messaging is the go-to solution for supporting chat history access in current chat applications. But this wasn’t the case some twenty-odd years ago when messages were stored locally. You could only access your chat history on the storage device. Needless to say, the use cases were extremely limited.

Today, messaging apps have moved to cloud storage to give users cross-platform access to their chat history. Persistent chat history access allows businesses to derive valuable insights from customer interactions. However, this level of flexibility comes with conditions. Strict regulations govern how individuals and organizations can store and use this data. 

In this article, we will explore how customers influenced the evolution of message persistence and how it became a boon for businesses. 

Chat apps: Yesterday vs. today

Before Android or iOS chat features, MSN Messenger revolutionized online conversations by allowing over 330 million active users to communicate with each other, in real time. But all messaging history was stored locally, and losing or replacing a hard drive meant your entire chat history was lost forever. 

As messaging applications became a staple in office communications, end users wanted more real-time chat capabilities like accessing history, editing messages, and updating file permissions. Companies needed a low latency, asynchronous solution that supported these functions while storing chat history in a secure, reliable, and scalable manner. Messaging applications eventually moved toward cloud storage to address these needs.

With cloud storage, users could:

  • Easily search for old messages and files

  • Perform actions like editing or deleting messages, updating file permissions, etc.

  • Get access to all previous communications when joining a new chat group or channel

  • Send messages even when they’re offline (which get a timestamp and are delivered when they’re online again)

The importance of chat message storage and retrieval

Storing chat history doesn’t just improve employee efficiency; it also addresses other requirements vital to business success.

Enhance user experience

Aside from updating and deleting messages, persistent storage lets users continue conversations on different devices across platforms and operating systems. Any updates or changes will reflect on every device. 

Messaging apps are now introducing bots to perform simple tasks to make their day even easier. These bots can access users' chat history and create task lists, answer simple queries, and so on, giving them the bandwidth to work autonomously while streamlining workflows across the organization.

Understand your audience and business performance

Natural language processing (NLP) empowers businesses to analyze customer chat history and identify keywords and trends. These insights are a direct hotline into the customer’s mind. You can determine what the customer needs to improve their overall experience.

For example, developers and marketing teams can analyze customer interactions to understand how customers use the product, identify common pain points, and generate new product ideas. Meanwhile, customer service teams can use the data to assess agent interactions, streamline operations, and respond to customer queries faster.

Meet regulatory compliance 

Earlier, companies in the financial, healthcare, and government sectors stored chat history according to regulations set by the industry themselves. Today, companies must adhere to strict data retention guidelines enforced by policies like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA). 

One such guideline is erasing all user data when the user revokes consent. Because of its unique form, chat data is usually managed separately, making it difficult to delete. Chat history APIs for storing and managing this data make it easier for organizations to find and delete stored messages to meet compliance requirements quickly.  

Improve team collaboration and knowledge sharing

Features like file sharing, video sharing, and voice notes allow users to communicate more effectively—sharing more context that would otherwise be lost in text. This improves knowledge sharing between employees. Storing shareable PowerPoint presentations, documents, and files on the cloud and device ensures information is always accessible.

Make auditing easier 

Handling and sharing sensitive information is always a concern for messaging platforms. Chat history functions as an audit log that administrators can use to track misuse of information within the organization. Knowing the exact sequence of events can also help administrators identify potential security breaches, verify authentication and authorization, and take corrective measures.

Give users a reason to return to the app

Utilizing push notifications for new messages ensures that users know about waiting messages and encourages them to return to retrieve the messages. While Message Persistence is a useful feature that every chat app should have, providing end users with notifications ensures your storage capabilities don’t get overwhelmed.

PubNub’s Message Persistence API 

PubNub’s Message Persistence is a storage service that provides an accurate log of every message published to a tenth of a nanosecond. Messages are stored in real time as they’re published to PubNub. They will be available across multiple global locations if the message falls within your defined storage period. 

The Message Persistence API lets you store and manage data related to: 

  1. Messages: Developers can enable actions like filtering, retrieving, or deleting messages from the chat history.

  2. Message actions: Developers can allow users to retrieve and delete (but not edit) actions performed on a message, like adding emojis and showing read receipts. 

  3. File sharing (using the File Sharing API): Developers can allow users to view and manage older files and documents shared on the messaging application. 

See your business future in your chat history

Message data retention is a tricky business. You’re handling private communications between people, sometimes involving highly sensitive information. Hence, handling message data is subject to strict guidelines, with oversight leading to hefty penalties.

But when managed correctly by chat apps, chat history retention can offer insights into your business that no other qualitative data can. You can streamline internal workflows, understand customer needs, identify areas for growth, and assess employees' effectiveness from their chat history.

PubNub’s Message Persistence API is the perfect tool to store and analyze your message history. You can retrieve and edit both existing and deleted messages easily. It gives you full control over how and where your data is stored to ensure you meet regional and global data regulations.

The Message Persistence API works seamlessly on the backend and with the entire PubNub ecosystem to ensure your data is in safe hands. Take the next steps and sign up for a free trial to experience it yourself, or run through one of our many tutorials.