Time for another reader question! I received this the other day from Jean:
“A client is asking us if it’s possible to integrate a Lync Chat Room inside a PHP website. They have about 1000 people who want to use it. Is there an embedded Web app that we can use for this kind of request?”
Interesting question. Can Lync’s Chat Room functionality plug into a webpage, so people could use it on a public website instead of a private chat room?
I presume these 1000 people are not all Lync users. Which would be the reason why they’d like to chat, but don’t all have the Lync Chat Room option available to them.
Off to research!
The Bad News: Lync Wants a Client to Connect
Sadly, I had to tell Jean that there is no way to do this natively with Lync Server. Persistent Chat is a server role designed to function within your network. You can always chat with branch offices and federated partners. But they need to use a Lync client to do so.
The only clients with Persistent Chat integrated are Lync 2013 and Lync 2013 Basic. Both of these require a Lync user account. So the whole idea of non-Lync users on a public Chat Room breaks apart.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make this happen. It just means we have to get creative.
The Good News: Third-Party Options Help Lync Provide Public Chat
In my research I turned up a pair third-party software options. These extend Lync Server’s capabilities in the IM, Presence and Persistent Chat areas.
1. The Lync Presence & Chat Widget from OrbitOne:
Shows Lync Presence information live on your website. Visitors can chat with Lync users through the widget.
2. SmartChat from Evangelyze:
Uses Lync to power a live Web Chat for visitors.
SmartChat is the closest option to what Jean asked for. However in both cases, you’d need to do some development to make the chat rooms function seamlessly. Lync Server is not a PHP application, so connecting to it via PHP will require a bit of coding.
Speaking of coding – there’s always the option of developing your own public-access chat room! I’m not a developer, but I do know about the Lync Web Developer API website: https://ucwa.lync.com/
Some good API documentation here, well-organized.
I recommended making an open Chat Room, and requiring all users to use Lync 2013. That way Persistent Chat takes care of everything for all 1000 users. But if Jean wasn’t able to put everyone on Lync, the options I listed here are the best choices available.
Do you know another way to host Lync Chat online…without requiring participants have a Lync account? Let’s hear about it!