Chatttr—come chat and draw

Thursday. 03 November 2011. 12:00 UTC
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For a few months now we’ve been kicking around a hobby project called Chatttr—located at http://chatttr.com. It’s a free-for-all chat room that allows users to create and share simple line drawings. But that’s just the surface of Chatttr. From the foundation upward we built Chatttr as an experiment in anti-social networking. What happens if there are no accounts? No login? What if multiple people can have the same username? Or change their username between each post? What if there’s no permanent archive?

The history for each “room” is limited to twenty-four hours or one hundred posts, which ever comes first. And the archives are continuously recycled—rows in the database are actually overwritten with new posts—so when something’s gone it is gone. This is why we suggest that if you like something you should take screen grabs or use Print-to-PDF to save a copy. (There have been some really great exquisite corpse drawings recently. It’s been wonderful to see users playing and enjoying Chatttr this way.)

Creating new rooms is as easy as entering a URL. For example, if you wanted to start a room called “awesome” you’d just use the following address: http://chatttr.com/awesome. Anyone can create a new room. For the moment there is no publicly posted list of rooms and while certainly not full-proof this does add a small measure of privacy if you’re looking to have a quick chat out of the spotlight of the main room. (We’re currently working on some features directly related to this, but we won’t explain the specifics yet—we think it will make for a nice surprise.)

It’s worth mentioning that Chatttr was built using two fantastic JavaScript frameworks. For the foundation we’re using Bootstrap.js from Jürg Lehni. (Not to be confused with another JS framework of a simliar name.) If you’re familiar with jQuery you might find Bootstrap to be its more streamlined and elegant cousin. To handle HTML5 canvas drawing we’re using the brand new Paper.js framework from Jürg and Jonathan Puckey. (Paper is a descendant of Jürg’s earlier Scriptographer plugin for Adobe Illustrator.)

We describe Chatttr as “a public park in a sea of private gardens.” This has advantages and disadvantages of course. Anyone may join in and they don’t have to reveal their identity, which is lovely. However, this has also allowed some users to post offensive material that we’d rather not have around. It’s a give and take. The best thing you can do as a user is—just like in the real word—when you see something that you take offense to don’t just cower, but engage the offender. Often just a bit of communication can go a long way.

Chatttr is in its infancy. We have a lot features in mind. Jump in an tell us what you think: http://chatttr.com


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