Our search for chat alternatives narrowed down to five competing products -- all of which seemed to meet our requirements.

I chose to give BlaB! 4 Enterprise a try.
BlaB 4 is AJAX based and best viewed with any browser chat system that supports PHP4/PHP5 and MySQL, SQLite & PostgreSQL databases.

BlaB 4 Features:

  • High performance, extremely low bandwidth required
  • Brand-free: no links back to us, you can remove the logo for free!
  • Supports 99.8% of the available browsers: Microsoft Internet Explorer 5+, Opera 8.5+, Mozilla / Firefox and Konqueror / Safari / Google Chrome
  • Supports smartphones and handhelds: iPhone & iPod Touch, Windows Mobile, Symbian S60 & UIQ3 -> Details
  • NO FLASH & NO JAVA: no additional plugins / server modules required
  • XHTML 1.0 STRICT and CSS2 compliant
  • PHP4/PHP5 compatible: error_reporting(8), register_globals=off
  • Multiple rooms with history that can be kept forever
  • Whispering in public rooms
  • One-to-one private chat
  • Online status: Online, Away, Invisible
  • 'http' links, emoticons, text formatting
  • Bad words removal
  • Banning by user and by IP address
  • Custom timezone settings
  • Sound notification on new messages, when the users online list is changed
  • UTF-8 based multilanguage support.
  • Integration with popular php scripts (vBulletin)
  • Built-in registration system
  • User avatars, uploading photos
  • Skins to choose from
  • Changeable topics for the chat rooms
  • Password protected rooms
  • Country recognition by IP [displaying a flag in the user profile]
  • File sharing: upload and share files, upload and post images in chat
  • Video: post & watch directly in chat YouTube and MetaCafe videos
  • Ignore users
One of FlashChat's annoying bugs was that members would sometimes show as being in chat long after they had left FlashChat -- and the only way to fix it was to go down to the MySQL level.

BlaB appears to have the opposite bug. Twice now I've seen members not appearing to be in chat when, in fact, they were in chat. Refreshing the page fixed that issue -- for the moment.

I've installed a "chat within the NetBuilders framework" as the default chat button. You can also load BlaB! in it's own window by going to http://www.netbuilders.org/chat/.

As part of this test of BlaB!, I am going to spend a lot of time in the chat system over the next few days. Please stop in and say hello!