Here we are again with our Dev Diary series. This time we want to let you know about the upcoming changes in internal communication tools in Oxwall.
As you know, there are two plugins now, Mailbox and Chat. They are independent, so you can only communicate in real-time chat or using mailbox (that mimicks email). There are several important issues with that though, namely:
- Messaging communication keeps getting transformed. There’s a reason why the border between email and instant messaging blurred so much, and we are not fully content with any one of these.
- People don’t necessarily want to remember where the talk happened. It’s just convenient to have everything in one place with ability to search.
- Sometimes it’s really much more convenient to keep your chat going in a focused, standard page interface, than to type and read in that small chat window; or to have back-and-forth email followup’s in bite-sized messages.
Fundamentally, while a social website is a complex system, sending a message is a trivial, casual, frequent operation. It means, there have to be different ways to send, receive, and respond to messages, all suitable for context and task at hand.
But then, communication is different. While casual messaging is sufficient for some websites, other may really benefit from a more formal, email-style approach. Since Oxwall websites are used for different purposes, we have to support both paradigms and make them work nicely together, if required.
With all this in mind, we decided to do the following:
– Make a unified Messages plugin that will incorporate functionality of both Mailbox and Chat plugins;
– Allow to enable either of those, or both at once;
– Have chats and “emails” in one interface with search (retaining chat and contact list windows, of course);
– Provide granular (if excessive) permission settings for every action in mailbox and chat.
The new Messages plugin will be available as the successor of the two current plugins with the platform 1.6.1 release. We hope communication in Oxwall will become much more efficient now. And of course, we are ready to iterate on your feedback.
Thank you for being such a fantastic community!