Chat Engine: 6 reasons to build a custom chat experience 

Sara Ana Cemazar
August 7, 2023
min read

In an era where technology is advancing so rapidly, Chat Engine proves to be a useful set of tools for development teams that want to build chat functionalities fast.

Organizations across industries are recognizing the importance of instant messaging — be it for internal or customer communication. Simply, we are all used to talking over chat in both our private and professional lives. Customer demands are also growing, and more people are demanding fast and efficient resolution of their issues within the app or web interface.

What is Chat Engine exactly and how can it help you extend the functionality of your product, fast? What are the best providers of chat APIs that you can explore to build a chat experience?

What is Chat Engine?

Chat Engine is a set of APIs that give developers ready-made tools to build chat experiences of their own. For example, to build a chat, you need to develop features for one-to-one messaging, group messaging, multiple messaging formats, and more, depending on the complexity of the chat you’re building.

As you can imagine, building a chat is a complex and lengthy process. But, if you use Chat Engine, you’re saving time and resources on the development of all the necessary chat components. Instead, you can use a pre-built chat API and embed it in your product, with more or fewer tweaks, according to your needs and preferences.

Using a Chat Engine: what are the benefits?

When a team gets a task to develop a certain app functionality, they’re also given budgetary and time constraints. Team leaders then have a choice: building a feature from scratch, or embedding an already existing feature into the product.

The final choice depends on the complexity of the feature and the availability of pre-built components. When it comes to chat APIs, there are several available options on the market, so developing teams can use a Chat Engine to add chat functionality to their product.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the benefits of using a Chat Engine over developing your own chat functionality from scratch.

1. Tested in existing products

Chat Engine is a run and tested product of its own. The teams that are interested in the chat API know that it’s been implemented in other products. Developers of the chat API are fixing the bugs and making sure that it functions properly.

This is very important since developers need to aim at the highest quality of their code. If a Chat Engine is being used in other products, they can rest assured that it works properly.

2. Faster deployment

A lot of times, developers need to meet tight deadlines. Developing a chat functionality from scratch takes much longer than tweaking ready-made chat APIs to fit the product. In that sense, developers can deploy the added chat functionality very quickly.

3. Resource-saving

Not all teams have the bandwidth to develop a new functionality. To develop a chat, organizations would have to hire new developers or redistribute the work of existing developers, thus interfering with running projects. Research shows that building a WhatsApp-like app would cost up to $250,000.

Not to mention that developers are hard to find these days: it would save the hiring team time and resources taken to find new team members.

4. Customizable

Chat Engine is a set of chat APIs, meaning that you can implement the chat functionalities that you need. For example, you might want your chat to have the option to react to messages, receive message-read receipts, or enable user mentions.

If you’re using an open-source chat API, you are also able to develop more complex functionalities upon existing ones. You can white-label the chat to match your product’s style and branding, or you can create your own front end for a fully customizable user experience.

Using a Chat Engine instead of building a chat from scratch enables teams to deploy high-quality chat experiences faster and at scale.

5. Scalability

If you’re planning to use your chat solution to support high concurrent user limits, you surely don’t want to risk app downtime and low performance. A reliable chat infrastructure that a run-and-tested Chat Engine can provide will support you as you scale.

6. Security

Phishing and hacking can happen anywhere — including in-app and live chat apps. Businesses in highly-regulated industries need to pay special attention to data protection in order to stay compliant with regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR, FINRA, and others.

If you’re looking for advanced security, leveraging a customizable chat engine with developed security features is a way to go. For example, Rocket.Chat allows businesses to deploy their chat on-premise, remaining fully in control of their data.

Examples of embedded chat experiences you can build

So, what can you do with Chat Engine? There are multiple ways you can build a chat into your product. You can apply them across industries — here are some examples below:

1. Digital healthcare

Healthcare providers, insurance organizations, and health-tech companies utilize chat functionalities to connect with patients more intuitively. Developers can use the Chat Engine toolkit to build a chat experience into healthcare providers’ websites or health-tech organizations’ apps.

This can allow more streamlined communication. Patients can receive notifications when their lab results are ready or reminders for upcoming exams. However, developers must be aware of regulatory constraints when it comes to the use of patients’ data. Finding a HIPAA-compliant Chat Engine is a priority in this case.

chat engine

2. Financial services

People use banking apps today to check their account balances, pay their bills, and much more. Online banking helps to automate a lot of administrative banking tasks. Still, banks need to support their users to navigate the app or manage more complex requests.

Adding a chat functionality can help bank clients efficiently resolve their issues. It can be paired with a chatbot to further automate certain tasks and answer the most common questions.

chat engine

3. E-commerce and Marketplace

E-commerce platforms were among the first businesses to implement live chat on their website. With an integrated chatbot, it can quickly and efficiently answer customer queries, thus optimizing the user experience and increasing the chances of customers coming back.

With Chat Engine, you can allow interactions between buyers and sellers, buyers and buyers, and sellers and sellers to increase engagement and retention rate.

chat engine

4. E-learning

Universities are growing more and more digital. While taking exams online, submitting papers, and more, students and professors engage in discussions.

As universities have a complex IT infrastructure, it’s important to support online collaboration with a solution that fits well into the tech ecosystem. Open-source chat engine solutions can be customized to work well within e-learning systems where students and professors can engage in direct messages, project-based communication, group discussions, and more.

chat engine

Popular Chat Engine providers

The most popular chat engine providers allow users to take their chat SDKs and APIs and embed chat into their products. Here, some of the most popular chat engine providers are listed with their best features. Note that these solutions focus on the mobile experience.

1. PubNub

PubNub is a real-time messaging platform that provides a set of APIs and infrastructure to build a chat experience. The platform is used to build real-time chat but also collaborative apps such as shared whiteboards and project management tools.

It’s best used in apps that need continuous live updates and notifications, for example sports or news apps.

➡️Learn more about PubNub and why some businesses opt for its alternatives.

2. Twilio

Twilio is a popular customer engagement tool used to build communication features. In that sense, it offers not only chat engine, but also allows developers to build functionalities like audio and video communication into their products.

Twilio’s suite of products includes a Live programmable platform that developers can use to build apps to host live virtual events.

➡️Learn more about Twilio and why organizations opt for its alternatives.

3. Sendbird

Sendbird is a popular Chat Engine solution that offers chat APIs and SDKs to organizations who want to build in-app chat into their product. In comparison to Twilio, Sendbird is a tool offering more narrowed-down service with extensive messaging capabilities.

➡️Learn more about Sendbird and why some businesses opt for its alternatives.

4. Stream

Previously known under the name GetStream, Stream offers an embeddable live chat solution for mobile and web apps. Stream’s Chat Engine includes SDK and APIs for building functionalities such as threaded conversations, silent messages, message history, various user roles, typing indicators, @mentions, and so on. 

➡️You can learn more about Stream and its best alternatives in this article

Embed secure chat experiences into your app with Rocket.Chat

For many organizations, data privacy and security are crucial aspects of doing business. When implementing a Chat Engine, it’s important to note how it interacts with industry regulations.

With Rocket.Chat, you can leverage our easy-to-use and robust chat APIs to build a chat experience just the way you need it. You can allow users to interact with one another through chat, video, voice messaging, and file sharing, within a mobile app or a live website.

Rocket.Chat is an E2E encrypted open-source tool that allows you to white-label your chat and integrate it with other apps of your choice. In comparison to other vendors, Rocket.Chat allows on-premise deployment for full data sovereignty. Rocket.Chat supports you in building secure chat experiences in Healthcare, Government, Financial Services, and other highly-regulated industries.

Reach out to our team to see how you can extend the functionality of your app or website without compromising security.

Get started with Rocket.Chat’s secure collaboration platform

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Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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