Jabber as Customer Support IM?

apps

#1

Can the DH Jabber be used to support live chat or customer service where a customer can come to my site and initiate a chat with my customer support rep without the customer logging in?


#2

Somewhat… It depends a bit on having the right software support for the client side - but unfortunately with the way the Jabber servers are set up, there would be some unfortunate consequences to doing so…

The client-side software you would need is a web-based Jabber client that the end users could use - there are Javascript Jabber clients, but these usually need to connect via an HTTP method (you’d want HTTP binding to get any kind of decent performance out of it…) which the Jabber servers on Dreamhost don’t support. DH users could conceivably use their web space to implement HTTP binding, but this would require having a persistent process on the server side to keep the Jabber connection open on the user’s behalf - shared hosting users can’t run persistent processes…

Java clients and Flash clients don’t have that restriction - they can connect as regular Jabber clients. I can’t recommend one offhand, though… Particularly for the specific use cases you describe.

Now, for the security implications of this: in order for the user to be able to connect to customer support via Jabber, they need to have a Jabber account somewhere they can use… The most sensible option for the kind of chat support you want would be to add an account that’s dedicated to anonymous users logging in to talk to customer support. You can create such an account, but the problem is you can’t restrict what that account can do. A user could extract the login information for that account, then log in to that account using the client of their choice… I’m not entirely sure what damage they could do that way - possibly try to spam Jabber users on other servers, set up chat rooms on your server, etc…

I want to be able to use Jabber as a chat room on my website, as well - it’s frustrating… If DH’s Jabber hosting were just a little more friendly to that kind of usage, it would work, and do everything a chat server needs to do. But as it stands, it just isn’t quite up to that job… You can’t control the capabilities of accounts so it’s no good creating anonymous accounts - and you can’t automate the creation and deletion of accounts so you can’t tie Jabber accounts to accounts on the website…