Minnit – January 2021 Update

Although we’re already a few weeks in, let me take a moment to say… Happy new year! 🎉

2020 has been quite a year. In a period where life has been digital for a large number of people, with still a long road to go, we’re happy to have been part of so many people’s lives and help them connect with friends, families, colleagues, and even strangers. The feedback we’ve received has been great, and has helped us ensure Minnit continues to improve.

And today, we have just released our first major update of 2021. There’s quite a bit of good news to share, so let’s get started.

First, Minnit is now using a proprietary connection library! From day 1 of Minnit, we’ve relied on the open-source Socket.IO library to handle connections, both with the frontend client and our backend server. While this certainly has its advantages, as Minnit grows, the need to use something in-house became clear. Our new connection library will help future-proof the service for years to come. We thank everyone who has ever contributed to Socket.IO for providing a great all-in-one service that handles so many edge cases and browser quirks.

Despite moving to our own library, however, we made sure to support old browsers, including Internet Explorer, and have a fallback for Polling in the event of a user’s device or internet connection not supporting WebSockets, just like Socket.IO. For your average day-to-day use cases, you may not notice anything new, but we will be monitoring this change over the coming days and have a quick kill switch to revert back to Socket.IO if need be. After extensive testing, however, we feel confident there will be no issues.

Second, we have added a “photo” parameter to our embed code for chats on Basic plan or higher. This will allow you to pre-populate a user’s photo before they even connect to the chat. For instance:

<iframe src="https://minnit.chat/Demo?embed&nickname=Test&photo=https://minnit.chat/jesse/dog.png"></iframe>

The above example will connect with nickname “Test” and photo of a dog:

Owners using Minnit via our WordPress plugin should update as soon as possible to take advantage of this functionality, as the WordPress plugin will now handle both nicknames and photos automatically. Other site owners can populate this manually via their frontend or backend code to their liking.

Like all image content, the profile photos will be delivered via our systems, and will prevent images from being able to view your IP Address or other personal information.

Third, chats on the Pro tier are now able to create keys to grant ranks. If you go to the new Staff Keys page in the Chat Settings menu, you can set these up.

Let’s say you have a simple PHP site with a “userIsModerator” boolean. If you set up a Moderator staffkey of “123456” via the Chat Settings menu, then you can set your code to be:

<iframe src=”https://minnit.chat/Demo?embed<?php if ($userIsMod) { ?>&staffkey=123456<?php } ?>”></iframe>

This code will then only output the &staffkey=123456 portion of the code if the $userIsMod boolean is set to true. Minnit will then receive the “&staffkey=123456” parameter, and, as long as that matches the key configured in the database, the user will immediately become a Moderator in the chat — no additional work needed on your part, or the Moderator’s part. This makes it the perfect way to quickly grant a team of Moderators their permissions, without them having to register ahead of time.

Important: Do not set this up via frontend code — even obfuscated code can be reverse-engineered. Only do this if you have a proper backend to prevent users from being able to view the staff key without having the proper permissions, effectively allowing them to take over your chat. Always ensure the keys are impossible to guess. If you are not sure if you can securely transmit the staff keys, do not use this feature. Better safe than sorry. If you, or your developers, have any questions, we’re always more than happy to answer at https://minnit.chat/support

Finally, the “Transcript” button has been renamed to “Report Messages” and is off by default for public chats. Many owners got this confused with “Message Archive”, and very few chats ended up using the functionality, so this was done in an effort to declutter the menu and make things more concise. To re-enable it, go to the “Moderation” tab in the Chat Settings.

That’s all for today. Thank you to everyone who’s written to us to give feedback and suggestions about the product — we’ll continue to work hard on new features, including the launch of Organizations & full OAuth support.

Here’s to a great new year!

Jesse

Changes to Minnit to help keep children safe.

Hello everyone.

Today, we are announcing two new changes to the Terms of Service to help ensure Minnit’s safety:

  1. Chatroom owners are now responsible for keeping users under the age of 13 off the service. While Minnit has never allowed users under the age of 13, our previous policy was that we would handle monitoring the service and suspending these users ourselves. We are now entrusting the individual chatrooms to self-govern and prevent users under the age of 13. If you become aware of a user under the age of 13, you should immediately ban them and then contact Minnit Support and let us know, so their information can be properly removed from our systems. If you knowingly allow users under the age of 13, your chat will be removed from the service.
  2. Chatrooms that target users under the age of 18, or are owned by users under the age of 18, will no longer be allowed to upload content via Direct Message, or send links via Direct Message. Public chat links/uploads are allowed, so long as the chat is properly moderated. Please set the appropriate setting here.

These two changes are going into effect immediately. Owners, please inform your Moderators of the changes.

We are also allowing all chats the ability to disable Direct Messages if they feel this will help keep their users safe — this was previously only allowed on Community and higher. You can click here to go directly to the new “Direct Messages” menu in the Chat Settings that contains finer controls for Direct Messages.

If you have any questions about any of these changes, feel free to open a support ticket under General Inquiries, and we’ll be more than happy to discuss anything with you.

Thank you.
Jesse

Celebrate Minnit’s Third Birthday with our July 2020 Update!

A few weeks ago, Minnit celebrated its third birthday! 🎉

I’m pleased to announce that our July 2020 update has just been released. Here is what it’s available.

Message Reactions

You are now able to react to messages in the chat. First, this setting must be enabled at https://minnit.chat/chatsettings?page=reactions

Once enabled and you add emoji, then, upon mousing over a message in the chat, or tapping + holding on mobile, you will see the “Add Reaction” button. You can then select a reaction to give to the message.

By default, chatrooms on the Basic plan are allowed to configure up to 2 reactions, chatrooms on the Community plan are allowed to configure up to 5 reactions, and chatrooms on the Pro plan are allowed to configure up to 15 reactions. However, to help celebrate Minnit’s birthday, we’re allowing all Free/Basic chats to configure up to 5 reactions until August 1st, 2020. Enjoy!

Changes to IP Viewing Functionality

Previously, IP Viewing was limited to Community or Pro plans. However, as of today, it is now available to Free and Basic as well, with the following changes:

  1. Viewing IP Addresses is available to all chats, regardless of payment plan (including Free tier)
  2. The IP sharing notice is present even on embedded chats. If you’re on Basic or higher, you are able to disable it for embeds.
  3. If you’re on Community or higher, you’re able to see the estimated Geo IP location data, see if other accounts spoke on that IP, and see whether the IP is a suspected VPN/proxy or not.
  4. If you’re on Pro plan, you’re able to block suspected VPNs/proxies from connecting.

You are able to set up the options and read more here: http://minnit.chat/chatsettings?page=ipaddresses

Gifting Coins

We have added a way for you to gift some of your coins to another user, using this page: https://minnit.chat/giftcoins

Although the page is a bit simple (for now), it will allow your friends to buy upgraded emoji hats/accessories, rank shapes, and more.

We plan on adding even more emoji goods that can be used with Minnit Coins in the future, stay tuned!

Our COVID19 Commitment, Extended

As announced on our Twitter, the ability for chats on the Free tier to have up to 100 users has been extended to September 1st, 2020. We previously said that it would end on August 1st, but we wanted to extend it further. While the increase to 100 users has resulted in the need for a much more powerful server (& thus, higher costs), it’s important to us that everyone has an easy solution for keeping their operations digital during the COVID19 pandemic.

The Rest of 2020

We’re still hard at work every day working on new features for Minnit, answering support tickets + emails, working on bug fixes, and more. If you’d ever like to talk to us directly, feel free to open up a Support ticket and we’ll be happy to answer any questions or give you details on upcoming projects.

Whether you’ve provided feedback in the past, or just used the service & have been content with everything, thank you all very much for an incredible 3 years so far. Here’s to many more!

Jesse

Put a Pin on your Messages

Hello everyone! Today I am proud to announce a new feature to Minnit: The ability to “Pin” a message. Here’s how it works:

If you, or somebody else, sends a message that is particularly important, you can click the three dots next to the message, and select the new “Pin Message” button:

Once you pin a message, there will be a new Pin icon above the text box:

Upon clicking it, your users will be able to see only the messages that you have pinned, without requiring users to scroll up endlessly to find it:

This is perfect for the following scenarios:

  • Important updates that you want everyone to see
  • Funny remarks from you or your visitors
  • Interesting facts
  • Messages from your moderators introducing themselves

You are able to pin up to 50 messages per subroom. Unlike standard messages, pinned messages are exempt from being removed by our servers once they’re old enough. Pinned messages requires your chat to be on the Pro plan.

I hope you all enjoy the new Pin feature, and have a great rest of your week!

Jesse

Minnit Chat – March 2020 Update

Hello everyone!

Today, we are pleased to announce a new update for Minnit Chat thanks to a ton of great feedback from Owners. While this update is a bit smaller than others due to us being hard at work on Organizations (which will support OAuth 2/SAML 2 and many other new stuff), we still wanted to work to make the service even better with some requested functionality and quality-of-life improvements.

First off: “Disable Functions” is a new suite of options to quickly disable various functions of the chat, depending on your payment plan. The options allow you to do the following:

Basic plan or higher can:

  • Disable user photos / avatars.
  • Disable Direct Messages
  • Disable nicknames

Community plan or higher can:

  • Disable the ability to add friends/view your Friends List
  • Disable the “View Profile” links
  • Disable the user list
  • Disable the display of @usernames

Pro plan or higher can:

  • Disable the ability to add users to “ignore”
  • Disable default Minnit emoji, such as (wink) or (dance). Since Pro chats can upload up to 100 JPGs/PNGs/GIFs as emoji, this is a great way to design your very own for use in the chat!
  • Disable any references to logging in/registering.

You can access these toggles here, assuming your chat is on a premium plan.

Next up, chatrooms on Pro plan are now able to change the texts of the chat directly. For instance, if you want to change the button that says “Direct Message” to “Instant Message”, you are able to do that. If you want to change the name of the Manager rank to “Supermod”, you can do that, too. Almost every single English string in the chat can be changed. You can see this by going to the “Custom Texts” section in the Chat Settings menu, assuming you’re on the Pro plan or Trial.

Finally, we’ve made a few smaller changes to other functions, such as clearing messages, so they are stored more efficiently and will result in much faster connections for chats that have lots of old messages. Other minor bug fixes and changes were made, as well.

That’s all for now! As mentioned, this is a relatively minor update, but we hope you enjoy it.

Happy chatting!
Jesse

Minnit Chat – COVID19 / Coronavirus

Hello everyone.

We have seen an increase in churches, schools, and businesses sign up for Minnit Chat to stay in touch with one another, as they are unable to meet face-to-face in wake of the Coronavirus. Many remain on the Free tier as they simply do not have the means to pay anything during this concerning time.

Because of this, we wanted to lend a hand. Our standard Free tier, by default, allows up to 40 users to be in the chat at once for chats created since 2018 — but, starting now, we are more than doubling the limit. All free chats are now able to have 100 users online at once. This temporary increase will be in effect until September 15th, 2020 — after that point, the limit will decrease to 40 again.

We hope this decision to raise the limit will make it easier for you and your friends, colleagues, or other members of your community to choose to stay in touch virtually, and help prevent further spread of the virus.

Thank you.

Jesse

Update: A previous version of this post stated that this would end August 1st. However, after learning that OVHcloud’s #Open_Solidarity initiative has been extended another month, and after seeing that the virus remains a global threat, it was an easy decision to make: The perks outlined above are now extended until September 15th, 2020. Thank you!

Handling “non-secure” radio streams

Hello everybody.

Earlier today, we put out this tweet mentioning that non-secure radio streams would not play in the latest version of Google Chrome when used within Minnit Chat. I wanted to take a moment to explain what exactly that means, as we’ve gotten quite a few tickets and inquiries.

First, what is a “non-secure” radio stream? A “non-secure” radio stream is one that is served over a standard HTTP connection. This protocol is incredibly unsecure, and it is very easy for others on your network, your ISP, or even a government (not necessarily your government) to view exactly what you’re doing. Secure content (HTTPS) fixes this by encrypting all data. If you are on a website that has a lock icon, like Minnit Chat, then you are on a secure and encrypted connection. If you are on a website that has the text “Not Secure”, you are on a standard HTTP connection.

What did Google do to break the radios, and why did they do it? The latest update to Google Chrome prevents secure content, like Minnit Chat, from loading non-secure content, like a vast majority of the owners’ radio streams.

The main reason they did that is simple: If you are on a website that says “Secure”, you should trust that everything you do on that page is secure. Having a “secure page” that loads a ton of scripts, assets, and other content from non-secure sources is misleading to the end-user, and, in an increasingly dangerous online world, it is important for users to know what they can trust, and what they can not trust. Google is moving in that direction by saying “If the page is secure, then it is entirely secure”. This is a good move for user privacy and security, but it does come with the sad caveat of non-secure radio streams being prevented from being streamed via the secure chat.

Now, what are the options to get the radio working again? If you own the radio station, you can put it on a server that supports the encrypted HTTPS protocol and link that in your chat settings. If you don’t know how to do that, contact your web master or hosting provider and ask about how to upgrade your service to HTTPS and to ensure that it won’t break your existing radio stream setup. Alternatively, if you embed Minnit onto your website, and your website is “Not Secure”, and you want to get the radio working again, you can embed the radio stream directly. Minnit Chat uses the standard HTML5 audio tag to broadcast content. You can put this onto your website yourself by pasting this code snippet:

<audio controls><source src="YOUR_STREAM_URL_HERE" type="audio/ogg"><source src="YOUR_STREAM_URL_HERE" type="audio/mpeg"></audio>

You can put this directly above, or below, your chat’s embed code, and a separate player will appear directly on your website. This, like our chat’s player, requires no plugins, and works great on every modern device.

Is there anything Minnit could do to fix this issue? As this is a policy that is in place by Google Chrome, and likely will be adopted by other browsers in the coming months, there is nothing we can do. The only possible option on the table is for Minnit to abandon the secure, encrypted HTTPS standard and revert back to the non-secure HTTP version, but we will never do that. That will put you, and your users, at risk of having your data viewed and your accounts at risk of being compromised. I have personally been interested in security exploits on websites since I was 11 years old, and so every single decision I make with Minnit is made with security in mind. I know that making Minnit Chat unsecure just for the radio to work is not a trade-off that owners want, and certainly not one I want.

Hopefully all of this is clear. If you have any more questions, feel free to contact Support and ask for me directly, and I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Have a great weekend, and happy chatting!

Jesse

New server & chat updates!

Hello, everyone.

Minnit is continuously growing every day, and to that, we saw thank you to everyone! From our beginnings in summer of 2017, to now in 2020, things have been chugging along very rapidly. With that, of course, comes a much-needed server upgrade.

For the technologically inclined: Our new server has 3 times as much CPU+memory, as well as improved caching abilities. This means that we can deliver a faster flow from loading the page (embedded or directly) to the chat showing up. As a result, all of the user information is now being delivered upon a successful connection being established, rather than in the HTML itself. Finally, the new server’s websockets setup should result in more stable connections.

For the technologically uninclined: The site runs better. 🙂

While getting things ready for the new hosting provider, we also whipped up a new function for Community plan and higher, due to many requests from owners: Customizable nickname colors! Many users enjoy the existing customizable message colors, so being able to customize your nickname was the next logical step. To set this up in your chat, go to the User Personalization section of the Chat Settings page, and set the minimum rank you want to be able to set a color. Once set, all the user has to do is click their name and click “Change Nickname Color,” and they’re all set!

I hope everyone enjoys the new server! As always, if you have any questions, you can reach out to our support center and we’ll be happy to help out.

Happy chatting!
Jesse

WordPress Plugin – Version 2.0.0 now live!

Hello, everyone! Today I am pleased to announce that Version 2.0.0 of our WordPress Plugin is now live.

The new version greatly overhauls the backend code to make the admin settings run more efficiently. This version also introduces the ability to add a chat to a single post or page using the plug-in, via the new WordPress post editor.

To put the chat on a single post or page, simply create a new Block in the editor, and scroll down to “Embeds”. You will see Minnit Chat available as an option. Click it, enter your chat name or URL, and, once you preview or publish your post, your chat will be viewable by anyone who’s on the post or page. This has been a much-requested feature, thank you to everyone for your feedback.

To get started with Minnit Chat’s all-new plugin, click here.

Happy chatting!
Jesse

Gifting Subscriptions

Users in your chat are now able to gift you a premium subscription on Minnit Chat!

To get started, a non-owner can click the Menu icon above the text box, then click “Gift Subscription”.

Once clicked, a new page will open up where the subscription can be changed.

Once the gift is given, the Chat Creator will receive an email informing them of the thoughtful gift.

Simple as that! If you’re an Owner and your chat receives the gift, you’ll be able to use all of the premium features, such as custom emoji, larger concurrent users, custom chat CSS, and so much more. And if you’re waiting for a long time for a gift and just about ready to give up, there’s no shame in “gifting yourself”… Right?

Note that “Gift Subscription” requires you to be a registered user with Minnit. If the chat already has a subscription plan in place, you will not see the option — if you want to gift an upgrade, the owner will have to cancel their existing subscription and you then issue the gift with your own payment details under your account. For questions regarding gifts, contact us.

Happy gifting!