The Chatterböxen Story

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I have just launched the beta of Chatterböxen, my ephemeral, anonymous chat program (with tightened-up graphics). Chatterböxen began as a simple attempt to create an AJAX chat with jQuery, but quickly evolved into the current look and feel, with words and phrases floating in a bright white space.

I developed the very first incarnation while I was working at VSA a couple of years ago, and wrote it in PHP with a MySQL backend to store the messages. This was fun to show to a few friends by hardly efficient enough for the big-time, and it was also extremely buggy and susceptible to hacker attacks. I showed it to some coworkers and a few friends and then shelved it.

As part of my new years resolution to bring all of my side projects online, I began working on chatterböxen again a few weeks ago, as a ruby on rails project. It was very effective and easy to write that way, but it was too bulky. Rails is a wonderful framework for a lot of different kinds of website, but it's far too complicated for something like this. I had just learned about the Sinatra framework, which runs with Rack and a few other libraries to produce super simple, one-file web applications. I'd seen a blog implemented with Sinatra in less than a couple hundred lines and I was intrigued.

Rewriting Chatterböxen in Sinatra turned out only to take a single afternoon, ajax bells and whistles and all. A few further refinements, and now I am officially announcing that it is in beta and y'all should all go look at it and poke around for a few minutes. Within the next day or two I should have an improved backend solution implemented, and an FAQ on the site for people who are confused or having issues. Also, there is a facebook page! Despite my own reservations about it, this is a thing and it is happening. Go check it out, space cadets.