SharePoint Chat Web Part for SP 2010 – Sandbox Solution

We’ve just released our first full version of a chat web part that runs in SharePoint called the Lightning Chat Web Part. You can learn more about it, and download a free trial from here:

Lightning Chat Web Part

The text below is the old blog post:

Because there is so much interesting new stuff in SharePoint 2010 we decided at Lightning Tools to implement the 20% personal project day where people could work on any project/product they wanted. We’ve always got a long list of ideas of things to build for SharePoint so this is an ideal time for people to take one of them forward, implement it how they think it should be built and learn some new technology along the way. Today we are setting free into the wild the Lightning Chat Web Part – with 2 more coming tomorrow.

Chatter, chatter, chatter.

As you may know the Lightning Tools crew is spread around the world – UK, Armenia and Russia. This means a lot of our work is done via chatting on Skype. Rather than using Skype why not build ourselves a tool that can exist within SharePoint? We generally have one subsite for each project so the idea was to have a chat section for each project using a SharePoint list for storage. As everything is running at site level we also decided to develop this as a Sandbox Solution for SharePoint 2010 so it is something site collection administrators can deploy rather than having to go and nag the SharePoint administration folks.

We’re happy to introduce to you the Lightning Tools Silverlight Chat Web Part for SharePoint

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[click the image above for a larger view]

You can download the web part from here:

[The Silverlight version isn’t available anymore – you can download the new trial version from here]

Here’s how to get it running:

1, In Central Administration ensure that the Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Sandboxed Code Service is running.

2, Open SharePoint at the site collection where you want to use the Chat web part and go to Site Actions –> Site Settings

3, In the Galleries section click on Solutions

4, From the Solutions tab click on the ‘Upload Solution’ button and browse to the WSP you have downloaded.

5, After uploading it, Activate the solution.

6, Go back to Site Settings and click on the ‘Manage site features’ link. In here activate the Feature for “LightningTools.LightningChat -> List Feature”. This simply creates a SharePoint list that will be used to store the chat log.

Now you can go to your web part page, put it into edit mode, and add the Silverlight Chat Web Part from the Lightning Tools category. When the web part is added it may not display for a couple of reasons:

– you need to install Silverlight 3, if so just follow the instructions presented in the web part
– sometimes it seems the web part doesn’t initially load while in edit mode. Try saving and publishing the page

Also you’ll probably want to set the web part height and width to 500 pixels to give you a better view of it.

Take it to the desktop

One of the great features of Silverlight 3 is being able to take the application out of the browser and install it to the desktop and run it as though it were a windows application. To do this with the Chat Web Part simply right click on it and choose to install it to the computer

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This will allow you to create a shortcut to the application from the desktop or start menu. From then on you can click on the shortcut and the application will run as a standalone application outside of SharePoint – pretty damm cool! 🙂

What if we can’t use Silverlight?

We realize that not all organizations will allow their employees to install Silverlight, so as an alternative we have built a different chat web part that makes use of the new SharePoint ECMAScript javascript library. When you are adding the web part to the page simply choose whether you want the Silverlight or Ajax version.

The ajax version isn’t as pretty as the Silverlight one yet, but we’ll be working to improve it over time.

What’s next?

Well you tell us 🙂 Is there a need for this kind of web part. What are the critical features we are missing? Leave a comment here with your feedback and ideas…