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Adding live chat functionality to existing applications with CometChat

Pablo Gorgoglione
June 21, 2023

Introduction

CometChat is a powerful chat-as-a-service solution that allows developers to easily integrate real-time chat functionality into their applications with minimal effort. By using the CometChat API, developers can quickly create user accounts, manage group chats, and handle real-time messaging in these chats. At Ensolvers, we used it on one of our projects to enable group chats in mobile apps in just two development sprints.

Problem and Solution

In our particular use case, we needed to create a chat feature for our application, but did not want to spend time and resources building it from scratch. After looking at several service providers, we opted to use CometChat to handle the chat functionality because of its multi-platform support, low pricing and simple API.

We decided to use CometChat to create group chats. Our backend manages the creation of users and groups via direct calls to CometChat API. Then, we preprocess the data returned by the CometChat API and store it locally, so we can have a list of the available channels within the system - and their participants. To make it compatible with our implementation we do not use all the information, as some of it is not relevant to our specific use case.
On the mobile end, we installed a CometChat library @comet-chat-pro/react-native-chat that allows any client to make API requests against their API. We set up listeners and observers to handle message updates in real-time. We also used the CometChat API to manage the sending logic, but before sending the message it has to be transformed to the expected JSON to ensure it is compatible with the API. This processing helps to optimize our implementation and ensure that the message is properly formatted before being sent. Finally, after working with the API we did have to do some performance optimization. One was chat history pagination to avoid fetching a lot of content in one shot when chats are extensive. Then as users scroll up, we fetch additional messages and other data to ensure a smooth user experience. A set of screenshots showing the live implementation can be seen below

Conclusion

In this article we've described the architecture and key aspects of enabling chat functionality by using CometChat. This experience allowed us to prove that the solution is mature and easy when we want to enrich an existing mobile application with chat functionality , without having to build it from scratch. We were able to create group chats and handle real-time messaging between users In two sprints without having blockers on the road.

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