7 best open-source chat APIs for businesses

Sara Ana Cemazar
April 11, 2023
min read

A reliable communication platform is imperative for businesses to communicate with customers and colleagues.  Chat applications are becoming popular as they make collaboration easier and faster. 

Open-source chat APIs are a great way to integrate chat abilities into an existing application or deploy them stand-alone for live stream chat. 

In this blog, we have listed the best open-source chat API solutions for instant messaging and the benefits you can leverage from each. 

Why use open-source chat API?

Open-source chat APIs are a cost-effective solution and offer a secure communication platform for businesses. 

Some of the key benefits of open-source chat APIs are listed below.

Built by experts

Expert developers and tech enthusiasts build open-source chat APIs with in-depth knowledge of JavaScript, Node.js, React, and WebSockets. The diversity in their experience and expertise helps ensure that the API is well-built, tested, and meets the users' expectations. 

Run and tested

The code and applications of the open-source chat APIs are tested rigorously by users, peer developers, and experts in the field.  They can identify bugs and suggest enhancements to the existing code. As the APIs are built iteratively upon feedback from experts with diverse knowledge and real-time users, they are more efficient.  

Saves time and resources

With open-source messaging APIs, businesses can use the code to build a chat application. This way, they don’t have to build from scratch, and as there is no need for extensive development, open-source chat APIs reduce the time involved. 

Customizable to unique needs

The features, functionalities, user interface, and integration abilities of open-source chat APIs can be customized to meet the specific needs of a business. This is unlike the proprietary solutions that are not easily customizable and require more effort to modify them. Most open-source APIs are free or more economical when compared to proprietary software. 

7 best open-source messaging apps with open APIs

Here are some top picks for the popular messaging apps that leverage the open-source chat APIs. You can also find links to GitHub repositories in the list.

1. Rocket.Chat

open source chat api

Rocket. Chat is a secure collaboration platform where businesses can communicate between team members, customers, clients, and suppliers in one go.  

It is an open-source messaging platform built over Meteor JavaScript and MongoDB, a NoSQL Document Database. More importantly, it is a self-hosted system, so you can use it on your on-premise server or cloud. 

Rocket. Chat also provides OpenAPI to build your own private chat server. It offers a higher degree of customization and scalability, and you can white-label the components. 

Use case

Rocket. Chat offers the highest levels of security and data protection. So, the application is appropriate for businesses and organizations that handle sensitive data and value absolute privacy. 

Prominent features

  • Multiple deployment options 
  • End-to-end encryption
  • A high degree of customization
  • Third-party integration support
  • Audio and video conferencing
  • Customizable User Permission

Github repository

2. Chatwoot

open source chat api

Chatwoot is a self-hosted app that helps manage customer conversations in one place. It is an open-source messaging tool and can support multiple languages. 

Using the live chat application, you can engage with customers through the website, social media pages, Whatsapp, SMS, email, etc. Also, Chatwoot has an auto-agent assignment feature that automatically assigns incoming chat requests to the next available agent.

Use case

Chatwoot increases the productivity of the customer support team by providing a single point of view of the customer to the team. Chatwoot is appropriate for businesses that require extensive customer management and support.

Prominent features

  • Omnichannel support for customer communication
  • Auto assignment of agents
  • Detailed reporting and analytics
  • Allows attachments
  • Lets you tag your colleagues
  • Self-hosted app 

Github repository

3. Zulip

open source chat api

Zulip is a popular messaging platform for business teams. The application utilizes open-source chat API and can be hosted on-premises and cloud

It has the best of both, the real-time chat and email thread models. Zulip has a high-quality code base and offers integration with various tools, including Jira and Asana. 

The conversations are aligned in streams and threads and labeled with a topic, making it easy to follow up on relevant conversations. 

Use case

Zulip is a communication platform that promotes conversations over chat, reducing the need for email and meetings. 

As the conversations are threaded and arranged by topic, reviewing history and understanding past decisions and discussions is easy. 

Prominent features

  • One-on-one and group conversations
  • Threaded conversations
  • Access to chat history
  • Powerful integrations
  • Configurable notifications

Github repository

4. Let’s Chat

open source chat api

Let’s Chat is an open-source chat API ideal for small teams. It runs on Node.js and MongoDB. It is free, and the source code is available on GitHub. It supports LDAP and Kerberos authentication. The chat application lets you tag people and mention their relevant ID or name. 

Let’s Chat offers multilingual support, image embeds, desktop notifications, GIPHY support, etc. It has password-protected rooms to pass on confidential messages and make private conversations. 

Use case

Let’s Chat has chat features needed for developers and small businesses with intimate teams. It can be used for free and enables quick conversation about work and projects. 

Prominent features

  • LDAP/Kerberos authentication
  • Allows file uploads
  • MIT licensed
  • Chat transcripts
  • XMPP multi-user chat support
  • Desktop notifications for new messages

Github repository

5. IRC

open source chat api

IRC or Internet Relay Chat facilitates real-text collaboration and remains of the oldest forms of communication. IRC has discrete rooms where you can communicate with a group or chat one-on-one. It offers simultaneous conferencing and group communication in discussion forums called channels. The app also allows file sharing. 

IRC users communicate over the IRC server on the internet. They have to log in and pick the channel through which they wish to chat. 

Use case

IRC is the best option if you wish to participate and engage with an open-source software community. 

Prominent features

  • Group chat as well as private conversations
  • Smileys to convey emotions
  • Channel moderation
  • File sharing 

Github repository

6. ChatSDK

open source chat api

ChatSDK is a free messaging application, but if you aspire to use the same for commercial purposes, you should buy a license. Powered by open-source chat API, it lets you add chat support abilities to the existing app or build a new one. 

It also allows secure user communication through text, voice, and video. You can have a one-on-one chat or a group chat with multiple users. It allows users to invite other users for a chat.  

Use case

ChatDSK is appropriate for small businesses and enterprises, and the UI can be customized based on the requirements of the business. 

Prominent features

  • Access to message history
  • Private and group conversation
  • Log in through social profiles
  • Text, voice, and video messages
  • Allows media attachments over chat
  • Supports both iOS and Android

Github repository

7. MessageKit

open source chat api

MessageKit is an open-source chat API for creating chat interfaces and applications in iOS. It can be installed through CocoaPods or Swift Package Manager. Users can send text messages, images, videos, locations, and so on. 

Users can react to messages using smileys, and it also has typing indicators that show when a user is typing a message. The UI can be customized to the requirement of the application.

Use case

MessageKit is a free, open-source chat API commonly used for building chat applications in the iOS platform.

Prominent features

  • Supports audio, video, and text messages
  • Customizable UI
  • Smileys and Avatars
  • Message timestamps
  • Typing indicators

Github repository

Final note

In today's fast-paced business environment, reliable communication is key. The rise of chat applications has made collaboration easier and faster than ever before, and open-source chat APIs have become an essential tool for integrating chat functionality into new or existing applications. 

By leveraging the benefits of the best open-source chat API solutions, businesses can streamline their communication channels, increase productivity, and enhance customer engagement.

Build your own secure chat with Rocket.Chat’s OpenAPI

If you are looking for a secure chat solution for your business, then Rocket.Chat should be your go-to.

The platform has advanced security features like end-to-end integration, two-factor authentication, data protection, customizable user permissions, and so on. 

Also, the open-source chat API has pre-built options and does not require extensive development from scratch. Rocket.Chat helps you save time, cost, and resources while making no compromises on data privacy.

No matter whether you are trying to engage within the team or outside with customers and suppliers, Rocket.Chat can be customized to your needs. Build an extensive chat solution and delight your customers and colleagues. 

Try Rocket.Chat for free today.

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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