ChatSpace -- Entry-level/Mid-Range/High-end chat server for Windows 95/98/NT platforms

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Jun 25, 2002


ChatSpace is a cool new chat server that allows you to easily create and manage your own Web-based chat sites. The server provides an intuitive and user-friendly (albeit a bit slow) Java client for users to access from any Java-enabled Web browser. As long as your users have access to Netscape 3.0/Internet Explorer 3.0 or better they will be able to make use of the Web-based Java Client. Otherwise, your users can access your ChatSpace chat site with any standard IRC client.

ChatSpace is fully compliant with the IRC protocol and will be a breeze to learn for those accustomed to using IRC clients like mIRC, ViRC, and XiRCON. And even if your users have never worked with an IRC client they will find the ChatSpace interface extremely easy to use. ChatSpace is also extremely easy to get up and running with for administrators. After installing ChatSpace all you need to do is run the program and you're immediately ready to accept client connections. Configuration can be completed by stepping through ChatSpace's Configuration menu screen, which allows you to modify the server and network information, authorize operators, configure nickname services, define community preferences, implement security features, and so on. ChatSpace is a cool new chat server that allows you to easily create and manage your own Web-based chat sites.

While the interfaces are quite different, in terms of features and overall functionality ChatSpace closely resembles another interactive Web-based chat server, ConferenceRoom. ChatSpace lacks ConferenceRoom's customizable interface capabilities, but beyond appearance the interfaces offer similar functionality, including one-click access to rooms (channels), users, program options, and online help as well as the ability to embed the Java client within the Web browser or have it 'float' in its own window. The one shortcoming in ChatSpace is that its Java Client takes longer to load and is a bit slower than the one used in ConferenceRoom.

Among the features in ChatSpace are support for server to server networking (connect several ChatSpace servers together to form a cluster of servers similar to an IRC network), virtual hosting support (host up to several hundred virtual chat servers on the same system), dynamic and registered room (channel) creation capabilities, dynamic and registered user nickname services, a Web tour feature (allows an administrator to take a user or users on a tour of a Web site), and public and private (password-protected) options for chat rooms. Security features in ChatSpace include automatic user kill capabilities (Klines support), server bans, global server bans (bans a user from your server and any servers connected to it), nickname restrictions, forbidden words, audit records (tracks date, time, type, and actions for each connection), spoof protection, and flood protection.

Five major editions of ChatSpace are available for download and/or purchase. Each edition is targeted towards a specific audience. The ChatSpaceFREE Edition can be downloaded and used for free and allows access for up to ten concurrent users. For peer-to-peer and small business networks that need to support more than ten users, the $79.95 ChatSpace Desktop Edition provides chat services for up to fifty active users, registered users, and chat rooms. This edition is targeted to home networks, user groups, and schools as well as small businesses.

The most popular release of ChatSpace is the $495 Server Edition, which supports an unlimited number of users and offers a variety of advanced server features for Windows NT. This edition is targeted to content providers and large organizations that need to provide reliable, flexible, and powerful chat services to users. The $1495 Developer Edition provides a variety of tools and priority support for developing custom chat solutions. This release packages the Server Edition with a limited source licence and redistribution rights for the Java client interface as well as access to ChatSpace development technical support.

The $995 Hosting Edition adds to the Server Edition the ability to host hundreds of virtual chat servers and a universal management console for administering the virtual servers. Designed primarily for ISPs and Web hosting companies, the Hosting Edition is only available for Windows NT (all other editions are available for both Windows NT and Windows 95/98). Each virtual chat site in the Hosting Edition has its own registry for configuration, users, and rooms as well as its own IP address.

Each edition of ChatSpace comes with unlimited free technical support and minor upgrades. While telephone support is not available, e-mail support and live chat support (accessible during working hours) are both offered for registered users. Edition upgrade discounts and additional site licenses are also available (check out the ChatSpace Pricing page for more information). In addition to the server solutions, ChatSpace also offers chat hosting services beginning at $50 a month for up to 100 concurrent users and $25 a month more for each set of 100 users beyond the first 100.

ChatSpace does lack a few features found in its closest competitor, ConferenceRoom, including Web-based administration capabilities, Zlines support (for proxies and firewalls), a silence command, and winsock2 support. In comparing costs for the respective servers, ChatSpace is the more cost-effective option for organizations and home users needing to support less than fifty active users, while ConferenceRoom edges out its competitor for serving 50 to 100 users. In the 100 - 1,000 user range the servers are roughly equal with both representatives in this category costing $495. Beyond 1,000 users, ChatSpace is again the more cost-effective choice with support for an unlimited number of users costing only $495 (ConferenceRoom's Enterprise Edition supports up to 10,000 users, but it costs $3,995).

Overall, though, both ChatSpace and ConferenceRoom are similar enough in cost and features that choosing between the two will likely come down to a matter of personal preference. The one area where the two servers differ the most is in their client interfaces, so you'll definitely want to take into account the needs and preferences of your users when deciding between ChatSpace and ConferenceRoom.

Pros: Easy to use, Web-based chat services, extensive set of features and security options
Cons: Slower Java client than ConferenceRoom's, lacks some features found in ConferenceRoom

New: Java client enhancements, improved interface, ChatSpace Community Directory, hostname hiding, audit records, virtual hosting support (in Hosting Edition only); Release Notes

New in v1.5: Web-based remote administration capabilities, room transcripts, Java embedding wizard (easily embed Java client into Web pages), improved security; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 5

New in v2.0: Full member and room registration and remote management; JET Database or SQL Server for data integration; moderated chat rooms; private and person-to-person "buddy" chat; 100 percent Web-based client, no plug-ins or software to install; public (users self manage) or private (administrator manages) options; member profiles with optional e-mail/home page info and privacy options; "Web tour" that sends members any Web page or multimedia file; automated site security for protection from flooders and abusive users; audit records; "dirty word" filter; 100% IRC Client and Java compatible; supports Avatars, Audio, Video and Whiteboard with third party IRC clients; Web-based remote administration; transcript (record and display the conversations in a room); networking of servers for redundancy or scalability; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 5
Note: Not all of these features are available in the free version

New in v2.1: WAP chat interface; HTML interface; improved connection agent, server automatically tries to connect to the client using the most efficient method; wireless community directory; support for multiple languages through language packs; international SDK allows developers to translate into their language to work with ChatSpace; new algorithms to protect against flooding and attack; tighter browser integration; improved Macintosh support; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 3

Newin v3.0: Message board technology: new avatars and buddy lists; redesigned interface that includes message board features to the left and bottom of the chat area; streamlined Java Client; ASP integration that plugs ChatSpace into IIS; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 5

Version Reviewed: 1.5 (Build 20)
Date of Review: 12/28/98
Last Updated: 2/19/02
Reviewed by: Forrest Stroud


Operating Systems / Latest Versions:

Windows 95/98, Windows NT - v1.5 (Build 20)

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