Pino Server -- Basic Web-based chat server and client
February 13, 2002
A lot of people caught chat fever with the big public instant messaging services. So much so that many enterprises are now using chat as part of their company communications. In a corporate context, the public services are hardly ideal, as they do not offer enough control, security, or customization. That's where products like Pino 3-Server fit best to provide organizations with the means to operate their own chat system.
Adding this capability doesn't need to be a major undertaking. Pino 3-Server installs in about 30 seconds flat. Configuration doesn't take much longer. This confirms our hunch that Pino 3-Server focuses on ease of use, not on making chat a rocket science. This also means, however, that Pino 3-Server doesn't have as many features as other chat systems.
It's important to understand that Pino 3-Server is a Windows-based client/server system. In particular, unlike most commercial chat programs, the Pino 3 client is a native Windows program, not a Java applet or HTML/HTTP embedded in a Web page. The user must download an 843 KB exe file and install the client program, but there's no concern over Java Virtual Machine compatibility problems (especially with the new Microsoft operating systems and browser).
Moreover, our testing of the Pino 3 client showed it to have a performance edge over both HTML and Java clients. The server has an unusually small footprint (about 84 KB), which is an indication of lean and mean operation.
The client program is very simple to operate. It allows users to make multiple connections, join multiple rooms, create their own rooms, and initiate one-on-one connections. To a certain extent, the interface can be customized with colors and fonts. Twenty commands, as well as customizable messages and emoticons, are available for the chat line.
One feature relatively unique to Pino 3 is that online events such as "incoming private message" can trigger sounds, windows, blinking icons, or a message box. Users can easily register, assign themselves nicknames, and create a profile that protects their log in with a password.
In our overall assessment, the Pino 3 client holds its own with most chat user interfaces, whether public or commercial.
The Pino 3-Server provides good support for registering users and nicknames, including four levels of user rights. Users can be excluded by specific IP address. Room services include unlimited system rooms, Room Ops, and unlimited user Chat Ops. A separate program is provided to configure the server, or you can use the configuration text file.
The accompanying PDF file documentation is generally written as if the user already knows about chat and chat servers; if this is the case, the documentation is adequate. Support is limited to an e-mail and ICQ address. Unlike with Java-based programs such as Conference Room, source code is not available; nor is there an SDK or other means for low-level customization.
Because Pino 3-Server lacks scalability (e.g., connection pooling and server clustering), doesn't provide for explicit means to deal with firewalls and proxies (Z-line support), and does not offer security features such as encryption, spoof and flood protection, or tracking logs, the server is not an ideal choice for large-scale enterprise use.
For organizations that need a chat server with more features, we recommend comparing Pino 3-Server with products such as Conference Room and ChatSpace, which in their most capable versions are also much more expensive than Pino 3-Server.
Otherwise, Pino 3-Server is a quick performer, easy to install, easy to use, and a relatively inexpensive way to get started with a chat service.
Pros: 7 Easy to install and operate