VolanoChatPro -- Java-based chat server for any Java-capable chat platform.

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


Formerly the Well-Engaged chat server, VolanoChatPro is a powerful and very customizable Java-based chat server geared toward larger chats in the corporate, educational, and ISP worlds.

VolanoChat comes in two flavors: the basic VolanoChat, and its more advanced big brother, VolanoChatPro. We tested the demo version (which limited us to 5 simultaneous users) of VolanoChatPro after downloading it from the Volano Web site, installing it on a Windows NT machine using the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine. Being a pure Java application, VolanoChat runs on any operating system with a properly installed and configured Java virtual machine (currently supported OSes include FreeBSD, Red Hat Linux, MacOS 8.1, OS/2 Warp Server, Sun Solaris, and Windows NT).

The recommendation from Volano is to use Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine for Windows, which of course isn't possible if you're using VolanoChat on a Sun Solaris or Linux platform. During the installation process, VolanoChat searches for a Java VM and gives you a chance to choose another if you have multiple VMs installed.

After installation, you'll need to move Volano's client directory from the installation directory to your Web server's public-access directory (usually named wwwroot or some such on the directory tree). The contents of this directory -- client applet code and resource files -- is downloaded to the user so they can participate in the chat.

Launching the chat server is a matter of going to a command line and entering a command (which will differ based on the platform and JVM used). Of course, on the Windows NT platform, VolanoChat can be run as a regular service.

There are a wide range of choices possible when running VolanoChat. For starters, you may not want to require that users download a Java applet in order to participate in a chat; in these situations, you can run the chat server and funnel it through a Web page for easy viewing. You can change the look and feel of chat pages, adding company logos or specific color schemes. VolanoChat can be administered via a Web-page interface. You can set up a separate monitor service so others can monitor the chats in real time. Administration of the VolanoChat server can be delegated to other registered users as well.

Featurewise, VolanoChat stands up well against other chat servers. Your server can support an unlimited number of chat rooms (limitations apply to the number of connected users), chat networks, multilingual chats, and more. The administration tools are strong: you can ignore, delete and ban users who violate chat policies; broadcast messages to all users; and monitor the status of the server in real time -- in short: There are over 200 customizable settings.

Once Volano is up and active, you can run or edit various applets to change its look and behavior. For instance, a BannerPlayer Applet lets you display advertising banners on chat clients, with the settings for this applet controlled in a file called BannerPlayer.txt. If you want to replace banners with other Java applets, you merely delete the reference to the BannerPlayer Applet and replace it with a custom applet. Remote ad banners can be inserted by adapting the BannerPlayer and setting up a proxy. In addition, you can embed any Java applet or servlet you desire, meaning that chat rooms can be augmented with features like real-time polls, electronic commerce, online games, and more.

The Volano client-applet is attractive as well, giving users a list of rooms, the chance to enter some personal information (such as a personal Web-page address), entrance and audio alerts, and the ability to change the fonts.

There are some definite differences between VolanoChat and VolanoChatPro, apart from the price tags. In addition to the above mention features, VolanoChatPro also supports moderated auditorium-style chats (useful for corporate or educational environments), personal chat rooms, membership databases, server-side event reporting, and chat message logging.

And, speaking of the price tag: VolanoChatPro is not inexpensive software, but is priced competitivel for the corporate environment. We would like to see a more reasonably priced version of VolanoChatPro for a smaller number of users, however.

All in all, VolanoChatPro is a powerful chat server that's easy to set up, configure, and adapt for your corporate chat

Pros: 100 percent Java, which eliminates any reliance on a specific OS, 7 every aspect of the server and client can be reconfigured, 7 Web-based administration tools allow real-time management.
Cons: Low-end package could be more reasonably priced.

New: Web interface to chats, embedded logos, Web links to chat participants, more... ; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 5

New in v2.1.8: Added a limit on the number of received private chat requests; property restricts IP address information; menu items for monitors and administrators; support for membership-based monitors; added properties for setting case sensitivity in member monitor names, preventing multiple member monitors with the same name, and enabling the monitor interface; check feature prevents kicking of monitors; changed applets to replace non-breaking space character; new property for restricts administrator connections; added check for non-Volano clients sending administrator broadcasts; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 3

New in v2.1.10: Modified the VolanoChat server to close any connections that send in more than one access request; allows a particular connection to put only one user into a room at a time and to remove that user regardless of the user name provided when leaving the room; trims specific received strings of leading and trailing blanks; checks for empty passwords and name spoofing; changed the monitor and administrator interface so the IP addresses of visitors are displayed in the status area along with the other profile information; changed the applet default values for the Remove, Kick, and Ban menu item text so their display can be controlled only through the properties file on the server; BannerPlayer applet checks whether it successfully loaded a banner image before trying to remove it when the chat room window is closed; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 3

Version Reviewed: 2.1.3
Date of Review: 11/3/99
Last Updated: 3/19/01
Reviewed by: Kevin Reichard


Operating Systems / Latest Versions:

Any OS with a Java Virtual Machine.

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