This document should help answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the FlashChat software sold on TUFaT.com. If you do not find what you need in this document, please post your question on the TUFaT.com Support Forum. This document does not describe the basic usage of the chat room, however, because it is assumed that it's fairly obvious (answer: type a message and click send!).

Using & Configuring FlashChat

What IRC commands are available for FlashChat?
There are several command-line options that users and moderators can use for advanced functionality. These options do not exist in the FlashChat interface, but they are available to you by typing them directly into the message input box. These commands are "IRC-like" since they begin with the backslash. The following table summaries these options:

Command Description
/away Sets user as away. Typing this command again sets user as "here".
/here Sets user as here. This reverses the "away" and "busy" states.
/busy Sets user as busy. Typing this command again sets user as "here".
/back ## Shows the last ## entries of the room's chat, including any chat text that was present before arrival to the room.
/backtime ## Shows the last ## minutes of the room's chat, including any chat text that was present before arrival to the room.
/clear Clears the chat screen. This only affects your screen, not the screen of other users.
/me <action> Issues an IRC-like "action" to the chat. "/me" will be changed to your user name, and the text in <action> will appear as a system message. For example: "/me is thinking" would translate to "Joe is thinking".
/join <room> Switches the user to <room>. For example: "/join The Lounge"
/part Logout of the chat.
/quit Logout of the chat.
/logout Logout of the chat.
/version Shows which version of the chat you are using.
/invite <user> Invites "user" to the room that you are currently in.
/ignore <user> Ignore "user".
/broadcast <msg> Only available to moderators. This broadcasts a message to all users in all rooms. For example, "/broadcast Hello everyone!"
/kick <user> Only available to moderators. This kicks "user" from the room.
/boot <user> Same as /kick.
/ban <user> Only available to moderators. Bans "user" from the chat.
/banip <user> Only available to moderators. Bans the IP address of the user from all chat activity.
/gagX <user> Only available to moderators. Gags the user for X minutes. For example, /gag5 joe. If the user's name has more than one word, then it must be enclosed with quotes. For example: /gag5 "Joe Shmoe"
/alert <user> <msg> Only available to moderators. Sends a popup alert to the user. If the user's name has more than one word, then it must be enclosed with quotes.
/roomalert <msg> Same as /alert, but sends the message to all users in the room.
/chatalert <msg> Same as /alert, but sends the message to all users in all rooms.

If there is some command that you would like to see in FlashChat but which is not in this list, please post your suggestion on the TUFaT.com Support Forum, and it will likely be added in a future release.

Does FlashChat connect to actual IRC servers?
In release 3.8 no, although this is a planned upgrade for a future release of FlashChat. The ultimate the goal of FlashChat is to create a sort of "universal" chat system, which would be able to connect to all known chat servers, including desktop instant messaging programs like AIM, ICQ, and MSN Messenger. This is an upgrade which is probably very far into the future, however.

The purpose of the IRC commands listed above is to make the use of FlashChat more familiar and intuitive for users who may be accustomed to IRC systems. Thus, many of the commands that they already know can be used in FlashChat.

How frequently does FlashChat check the server for new messages?
By default, every 3 seconds. However, this setting can be adjusted easily in the FlashChat configuration file. Setting this to a lower value will cause messages to be displayed more quickly, but it will increase the bandwidth requirements for the system. It is strongly recommended that you keep the 3-second interval setting unless you have a dedicated server. If you anticipate that a very large number of users will be chatting (>100), then you may want to change this to 4 or 5 seconds instead of 3, to reduce the server load. This will produce small delays in the message processing, however.

How do I change the background images?
The background images in FlashChat can be changed very easily in the PHP configuration file which comes with the software. Users can change the transparency of the images, and toggle the images on/off. However, you must have access to the chat installation to change the image completely. When changing images, it is recommended that you use a low-resolution JPG file, preferably 1024 x 758 pixels, under 50KB. For the best results, use an advanced image editor like Macromedia Fireworks or Adobe Photoshop. Also, you should NOT save the file as a "progressive JPG", or it will not work. After you change the background image for any theme, be sure to clear your browser cache before reloading the chat to see the changed background.

How do I disable various buttons or options in FlashChat?
This can be done very easily in the PHP configuration file which comes with FlashChat by editing the appropriate file in /inc/layouts. The default layout for a standard chat installation is called "user.php". The "customer.php" layout is used on in Live Support mode. There are over 100 different options available to the chat administrator to help customize the look and feel of the software, including customizations for sound, color, layout, language, CMS parameters, login modes, and more!

How do I send a private message?
There are two ways to send a private message in FlashChat. You can either find the user's name in the room manager and click on the name, or you can type "/username:" in the chat input box, followed by your message. The recipient will be alerted of the private message, regardless of the room that they are in. If you send a private message by clicking on a user's name in the room list, then a small private message window will be opened, which you can keep open indefinitely. This is useful is you want to send multiple private messages to one person, or if you want to engage in several private chats simultaneously.

How do I login as a moderator or as a "spy"?
You must possess the moderator or spy password to do this. These passwords are set internally by the chat administrator, and provide special "powers" that are not available to normal users. For example, a moderator is able to boot users from rooms, and ban users from the chat completely. Spies are able to eavesdrop on any ongoing chat without being observed.

How do I insert text in bold or italic print?
In version 3.8 this is not possible. The reason is that FlashChat uses a pixel font which does not support bold or italic symbols. However, to emphasize text you can underline it using <u>...</u>, for example <u>This is underlined</u>, or you can use a different font color for your text. Support for bold and italic text will likely be available in a later version of FlashChat.

How do I use smilies?
You may send a smilie in one of two ways: select the smilie from the list of available smilies, or type the smilie code into the chat input area. For example, :red: is the code to display the blushing-face smilie. The chat administrator can enable or disable any smilie.

What is the sound "Pan" feature?
This option allows you to set the amount of sound coming from the right and left speakers on your computer system.

How do I configure FlashChat for use in a family-friendly environment?
First of all, you should probably disable the 'f**k' smilie in the PHP configuration file which comes with FlashChat. Then, you can add any "bad words" that you want to have omitted from the chat using the "dirtywords" text field. 1 word = 1 line of the file. These words will automatically be replaced by !@#$%&* (or other symbol specified by the chat administrator) during normal chat operation.

How do I logout of the chat?
The best way to logout is to click on the "X" in the upper right corner of the screen. However, if you simply close your web browser, then you will also be logged out after a period of time. The system will "time-out" after some interval, which is specified in the PHP configuration file. Thus, users who close their web browsers to logout will still be visible to logged-in users for a short period of time. However, clicking on "X" immediately logs you out of the system.

Can the logout "X" icon be disabled?
Yes, it can be easily disabled by editing the "user.php" file in the /inc/layouts folder, which comes with your FlashChat distribution.

How do I force FlashChat to authenticate every user with a valid username & password?
To do this, open the "common.php" file which comes with the FlashChat distribution, then uncomment this line:

require_once(INC_DIR . 'cmses/defaultCMS.php');

and comment (put "//" before) all of the CMS-related lines below it (those lines with "cmses/" in them). Then, open the langs/en.php file set to "" the line with "(if moderator)" in it:

'moderator' => "",

Finally, refresh your web browser to restart the chat. Now, instead of allowing anyone to enter the chat, the system will check the user ID and password against the FlashChat users table in mysql. If the user is not present, then the user will not be allowed to login. In addition, moderators must be defined as having the "admin" role assigned to them in the users table in mysql. FlashChat - when used in a "stateless" CMS mode - makes a user a moderator if the admin password defined in config.php is used. When using FlashChat in the "DefaultCMS" mode, users are logged in as moderators only if the admin role is assigned to them in the users table. Please note that the terms "moderator" and "administrator" are used interchangeably.

You can think of these two methods of user authentication like this:
Stateless CMS: every user is allowed in, moderators are determined by a special password
Default CMS: users are only allowed in if the user ID + password combination match an entry in the FlashChat users table. Moderators are determined by the "role" assigned to them in the users table. You should use this method if you want a stricter authentication protocol for FlashChat.

How does "Live Support" mode work for FlashChat?
The idea behind Live Support mode is to give companies a simple way to implement a live support feature on their websites. For example, instead of calling your company to ask questions, they can simply chat with you online. This is advantageous because it allows customer service reps to help many users at once, 24 hours a day. Besides, it's much cheaper than maintaining multiple toll-free numbers for your customers, and it enables you to provide assistance easily to customers all around the world. In short, Live Support can be a true windfall for your business if used well. To enable Live Support, simply set the appropriate option in the PHP configuration file which comes with FlashChat (config.php). When users login to Live Support, they are able to "ring the bell" to get assistance.

When a customer enters the chat to request "Live Support", they are automatically placed into a private room, created automatically by FlashChat. These rooms are auto-named with the customer's login name, so you can quickly identify who is in which room. The customer support person is able to access all of these rooms, and thus help any customer in any order. In addition, it is possible for multiple support persons to be present, in case there is a high volume of support requests. Support persons should login as moderators to the chat.

Customers are only able to chat with moderators, not with other customers. Thus, Live Support mode enforces a one-on-one private chat between the moderator and the customer. Moderators still have full chat capabilities, however, so they can chat with one another and send private messages, etc. For example, one moderator could send a private to another moderator like "Hey Joe - can you help the customer in Room X? I'm busy helping someone right now...".

How can I remove the (c) tufat.com notice in the lower-right corner of the screen?
You can't and shouldn't. Doing so would violate the FlashChat license agreement. The copyright notice has been deliberately made small and inconspicuous so that it doesn't interfere with the chat environment, but you should not attempt to remove it. Also, you should not make any attempt to decompile the SWF file - doing so would be a violation of the license agreement.

Am I allowed to change the contents of this Help file?
Yes, definitely. I fully expect that before implementing FlashChat on your website, you will want to remove some parts of this help file, and perhaps add some other notes which may be specific to your system. You can change any part of FlashChat that you see fit, except for the main SWF (since that would require decompiling the SWF, which would be a violation of the license). You may change ANY PHP file which comes with FlashChat to your liking.

Why did you put all of this information in the help.php file instead of the readme file or on your website?
I'm hoping to answer some pre-sale questions in advance, and since you're reading the help file anyway, I may as well stock it full of information! At one point, I had most of this information in a readme.txt file, but it seems like no one reads 'readme' files these days. The readme file which comes with the FlashChat distribution contains mainly just installation and license information.

About FlashChat

How can I get this software for my own website?
Simple: visit http://www.tufat.com, click on the FlashChat link, and then complete the purchasing instructions. PayPal is the preferred payment method, although other payment methods will be implemented soon. All of the programs on TUFaT.com cost $5 at the time of writing this document, although prices and terms are subject to change without notice.

What do I get for $5?
All of the PHP and MySQL code is included in the FlashChat distribution, as well as the Flash MX SWF file, but not the Flash MX FLA file. The reason for this is that TUFaT.com has - unfortunately - been the subject of several scams in the past year, and I felt that it was necessary to take measures against this. For about 99% of users, this will not matter, since most people do not know how to directly edit Flash Actionscript. If you need a new feature for FlashChat, please suggest the feature on the wish list at http://www.tufat.com, and it is *very* likely that it will be implemented in the next release of the software.

Steps have been taken to put a large variety of configuration options in external PHP files, which the FlashChat administrator can easily edit. This allows you to configure FlashChat in any of a variety of ways, and customize the interface so that it integrates well with your website's design and needs.

I want a new feature... what can I do?
You should post your feature request on the TUFaT.com Support Forum. If your suggestion would be useful to many users, then it is very likely that it will be implemented in a later release. You can also email it to g8z@yahoo.com, but I cannot guarantee a prompt response.

Why $5?
$5 was chosen because I want all users - individuals, students, non-profits, and businesses alike - to be able to afford these scripts, including users in the developing world, where $5 may represent a substantial amount of money. Also, my experience with Internet commerce is that charging too much promotes piracy, and there are so many freebie scripts on the web that people are accustomed to paying nothing or next-to-nothing for software. $5 is, in my option, next-to-nothing.

What client and server components are needed?
To use FlashChat, you must have a server running PHP 4.1.2+ and MySQL 3.23+. Also, you must have sufficient permissions to create and edit tables in MySQL. You do not need to have a MySQL editing tool like phpMyAdmin, since FlashChat comes with an installation file to create the necessary MySQL table structures for you. However, it can help to have such a tool just to verify that the installation was successful. For the client-side, you must have at least version 6 of the Flash player (as of FlashChat 4.0, you will need the Flash 7 player). Over 95% of the computers in the world are Flash-enabled, so this is usually not a problem.

Why don't you support Asian languages?
Asian language support is currently being planned for FlashChat 4.0, which should be released sometime in mid-2004. The reason that is was not originally included is that there is a very larger number of glyphs in the character sets of some Asian languages, which would increase the loading time for the chat substantially. Support of Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, and other languages is a very high priority for FlashChat.

FlashChat doesn't support my CMS - what can I do?
Many of the most popular PHP-based CMS systems are supported by FlashChat. If you own a CMS that is not supported by FlashChat, please post a message on the TUFaT.com Support Forum or submit a feature request, and the CMS will likely be supported in a future release. Typically, CMS systems have a way to add "modules" like FlashChat. If your CMS is uncommon, then please also provide module creation documentation, and the CMS files, if possible.

Who wrote FlashChat?
Lots of people! Over the past 3 years, probably 20-30 coders have contributed in various ways to the development of FlashChat. This development assistance comes in the form of Flash coding, language assistance, suggestions for CMS integration, design suggestions, testing, and of course direct monetary support. The original version of the software was written by Darren Gates way back in 1999. It was one of the original - and maybe THE original - Flash-based chat rooms in existence. The current version is largely the combined effort of Darren Gates and Andrew Danylchenko.

Who owns the rights to FlashChat?
All copyrights, re-sale, and distribution rights are exclusively owned by Darren Gates. To re-sell or re-distribute FlashChat in any form, you MUST have the written permission of Darren Gates. If these rights are granted to you, the (c) tufat.com notice in the lower right corner of the FlashChat screen (the SWF file), must remain intact. I have deliberately made the link very small and inconspicuous so that it does not annoy users. You do NOT have to keep the copyright information in this help file, or in the index.php file, or in any other PHP files that are included with the FlashChat distribution. Thus, copyright information in PHP files can be deleted, but the (c) tufat.com link in the main FlashChat SWF interface should not be removed or obscured. Any attempt at decompilation of the SWF for *any* reason would be a violation of the FlashChat license.

How do I integrate FlashChat with my current PHP/MySQL website?
You should have some knowledge of PHP/MySQL to do this. Essentially, you can change the Default CMS parameters to draw user information from the MySQL table of your choice.

Can I get a refund for FlashChat?
There are no refunds under any circumstances. Of course, there are some servers on which FlashChat might not work, or not work as well as it does on TUFaT.com. There are infinitely many server configurations, and it is impossible to test FlashChat on all of them. However, there are many server configurations and web hosts on which FlashChat works quite well. Thus, you can always choose another server on which to run FlashChat. Also, you can test FlashChat using the demo on TUFaT.com to make sure that you like it before purchase.

Your smilie component looks suspiciously like the Jolan component!
Yes, that's true. There is a simple reason for this: the Jolan component was used as the model for the FlashChat smilie component. However, the actual engine for the FlashChat textfield is substantially different from the Jolan component - only the smilie graphics are similar. In addition, the license for the Jolan component clearly states that the component can be used as a "small part" of a larger application (including commercial applications), which it is in the case of FlashChat. Thus, in my opinion FlashChat is using the Jolan textfield component in a manner that is consistent with the license.

Thanks for your interest in FlashChat. If you need any information that is not answered here, please post a message on the TUFaT.com Support Forum.

Kind regards,