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An important update to the Zendesk Chat platform

Jake Holman
posted this on February 14, 2012 11:01

Hello everyone,

Today we're making some very important changes to Zendesk chat. We'll be making an upgrade to our underlying chat technology, with the aim of unifying all technologies we use to perform real-time communication in Zendesk.

This process will be happening throughout the day, ending in 100% of Zendesk accounts having been upgraded.

Why are we doing this?

When we first launched chat in December of 2010, we did so based on XMPP & ejabberd, which you've probably used unknowingly if you've ever used Gtalk or Facebook chat. XMPP and ejabberd are fairly old technologies, at least in internet years, but we were confident this would be our platform of choice.

Then in 2011 we launched a new product called Zendesk Voice. This feature used technology that was more modern - a blend of Node.js and Socket.io which pretty much means we can keep persistent connections between you and us. We soon realized that this technology is a far better match for something that requires real time communication - Chat!

By bringing Chat on to Node.js/Socket.io we bring some unification to our real-time communication technology stack. It also enables us to far more rapidly develop and deploy new enhancements for those features that depend on it, which we'll certainly be seeing some of in the rest of 2012. Our investment in using Node.js/Socket.io is pretty deep, with one other future project being based on this too. 

For those of you wondering, we will likely build an XMPP bridge once we're ready to offer third party access to Zendesk Chat - enabling you to use Zendesk Chat through your client of choice. 

What does this mean for me and my customers?

There should be no impact on you, or your customers. We are not adding new features to chat (yet) so this is simply a platform change. There may be small shifts in functionality, and perhaps the odd bug, but nothing we can't fix very easily. 

The positive impacts you should see are a noticeable increase in stability, speed and reliability. 

How do I report issues I might see?

If you notice any problems with our Chat, you should always direct issues through support@zendesk.com - we'll be able to help you out quickly. 

What's planned for Zendesk Chat in 2012?

At the moment we're in the process of bringing Zendesk chat inside of Zendesk itself. This would mean no more having to open a new window in order to chat with your customers. Once this is completed, we'll be focusing on more management capabilities and presence. All of this will be announced as they're released, but I don't have a date to share right now.

 

Comments

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Graham Robson
Coherence Design

Fantastic, great to see leading edge technologies being leveraged.

Will a full API be available to enable third-party integration? It's equally important that as well as bringing chat into Zendesk, that Chat can be embedded into customer applications.

Graham

February 14, 2012 23:58
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Ben Congleton

Graham,

What are you looking for in an API?  As an Zendesk integration partner, we at Olark we are very focused on making chat easy to integrate into 3rd party integrations and making sure Zendesk customers have the best possible user experience.  We have a very extensive API, http://www.olark.com/docs, and when a chat is done it is pushed into Zendesk. I'd love to learn more about what APIs would make it easier for you to embed chat into 3rd party applications.

 

Cheers,

Ben

February 15, 2012 06:52
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Graham Robson
Coherence Design

@Ben Confession, we are a are Zendesk strategic partner too :-)

Olark is a great product and I can easily see how it can add value in it's own right. Indeed, if a Zendesk Chat API is not available, we could use Olark's and flow through that way.

Ping me for a chat graham.robson@coherencedesign.co.uk

February 15, 2012 23:57
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Chad Hensley

Has this been completed? It doesn't seem like it.

March 03, 2012 06:21
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Jake Holman
Product Manager

@Chad: Yes it had. If you're having problems, please contact support@zendesk.com

March 05, 2012 10:02
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Chad Hensley

Thanks Jake.  I guess I was expecting something like Olark, Zopim, LiveChat etc.  Those are the products I have been evaluating and was hoping Zendesk's version would be similar.  

March 05, 2012 10:34
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Ben Congleton

Hey Chad,

  I think generally Zendesk is more focused on the helpdesk experience than their live chat APIs.  We work closely with Zendesk and have put a lot of work into our integration with them.  So perhaps if you find Zendesk's chat APIs lacking Zendesk + Olark (http://www.olark.com/docs would be a reasonable solution.

Anything in particular you are trying to do?

Cheers,

Ben

March 05, 2012 10:38
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Jason Howard
livescribe

We use ZD + LiveChat, and it is another alternative that works well for my team.  

March 05, 2012 17:21
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Chad Hensley

I have settled on Zopim.  LiveChat is ridiculously expensive compared to the others.  Zopim is $12/month and does what I need it to do. There are few things they need to figure out but at 1/3 the cost of LiveChat, it is a no-brainer.

March 05, 2012 17:36
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Maarten Siersema

Hi is there any news on the development of the XMPP bridge?

August 08, 2012 02:39