jPFChat is a Joomla chat component built around the phpFreeChat script. The most popular solution in its category in the Joomla Extensions Directory, it is open source and accommodates multiple participants and multiple chat rooms (including private rooms).
INSTALLATION AND CONFIGURATION
At a minimum, download and install the main jPFChat component in the usual manner. If desired, also download and install the optional “who’s online” module.
Add the main jPFChat component to any menu. Make the menu item open a new window without navigation (which is said to be needed for Internet Explorer).
Set up the component at Components – jPFChat. Most settings are self-explanatory, but some not entirely obvious settings I find useful include:
- Main Settings – Server Time Offset: Set this if the server is in a different time zone from that of your expected users. For example, on one installation the server is in GMT-4 but the users are in GMT-6, a difference of minus two hours, so the value I set here is -7200 (2 hours being 7,200 seconds).
- Main Settings – Language: Select the preferred language for the main component.
- Display – Time Format: The default setting of H:i:c is 24 hour format; h:i:c is 12 hour format (without A.M./P.M. indicators).
Optionally, enable and configure the “who’s online” module at Extensions – Module Manager – Site – jpfchat15online. Unlike the localized main component, the “who’s online” module is not localized and appears in English only. You can hard code your preferred language into the file mod_jpfchatonline.php; replace the text strings as desired.
TIPS AND TRICKS
PHP 5.3 is reported to sometimes cause problems and its use is discouraged. However, on one of my installations PHP 5.3 and jPFChat 2.11 coexist just fine.
The lead developer says “jPFChat will NOT work if MooTools is loaded on the same page”. Sure enough, on one of my installations jPFChat was silently failing to load, and Opera Dragonfly showed that MooTools was loading. MooTools was being loaded by the footer module, so disabling it (Extensions – Module Manager – Site) resolved the issue.
One weakness of this otherwise strong extension is the limited options available for support. The project site has a small FAQ and there is a support ticket system (which the lead developer responded quickly to the one time I used it). There is no user forum, so many users (mis)use the reviews section of the Joomla Extensions Directory as a de facto support forum, where some useful tips can be found.
If jPFChat doesn’t meet your needs, there are numerous alternative chat solutions for Joomla.