The Top 6 Open Source Chat/Communication Tools 2021

Published: 2 months ago

While people love using text messages on their phone, online open-source chat continues to grow in popularity and diversity. I remember the days when using online chats involved signing into your email account and then you could use your AIM or Yahoo chat that was attached to it. 

Of course, today there are popular social media chat plug-ins such as Facebook Messenger. However, a social media chat box may not be appropriate for business teams. If you are a business or individual that is looking for a good and reliable source of online communication, you can  easily find the right one for your needs.

The right online open source chatbot can make communication with your team easier and more secure. With so many people working remotely in places all around the world, a reliable source of online communication is necessary. However, with so many options available, it may be hard to know where to start.

The Top 6 Open Source Chat Options

We have taken the time to research and compare some of the best sources of open-source chat available today. Whether you have a small company or a medium-sized company, the following open-source chat options can help provide the right solution for your daily communication needs.

  1. https://www.chatwoot.com/ 
  2. https://tinode.co/ 
  3. https://matrix.org/ 
  4. https://rocket.chat/ 
  5. https://rallly.co/ 
  6. https://github.com/php-kchat/kchat

Chatwoot

Chatwoot is an amazing open-source chat option to directly communicate with your customers. This tool can help you manage several conversations in a simple and efficient manner. You can quickly respond to your customers and help build relationships for your growing business.

At this moment, over 1000 organizations currently use this open-source chat to communicate with customers. Your business can quickly become known for  customer support as this tool allows you to communicate with all your website visitors in real time. 

Features

  • Shared inbox to communicate with other agents
  • Manage conversations through mobile apps
  • Integration with other popular chatbots
  • Integrations for enhanced workflow
  • A simple live open source chatbot built into your website
  • Live chat box supports more than 10 languages
  • Option to take the conversation from chat over to email
  • Channels to stay connected with your customers

Pricing

There are two main pricing structures available. Companies can either use Chatwoot cloud  or self-host this open-source chat on their own infrastructure. Let's look more in-depth at these two options.

Chatwoot Cloud

If you decide to go with the cloud hosting option, you can create a free account for up to 2 agents. This type of account is called the Hacker. This free account provides unlimited conversations, pre-written responses, private notes, a website widget, and up to 10,000 page views per month.

For $19 per agent per month ( billed annually), you can join the Startups Plan and enjoy all the features of the Hacker Plan. In addition to those options, you also have 100,000 page views per month, chatbots, social media connections through Facebook and Twitter, and better help center support.

The Business plan ( billed annually)costs $39 per agent per month and allows up to 1 million monthly page views. This comes with all the features from the Startups plan as well as campaigns, teams, and priority email support.

The highest level plan is the Enterprise option, which comes with both unlimited conversations and page views.  Your company will have priority support and custom integrations. You will have to directly contact Chatwoot for pricing.

Self-Hosted 

If you decide to do a self-hosted installation, there is a one-time setup fee of $499 for the Premium and Enterprise level plans. However, you can have a free self-hosted account as well.

All self-hosted options come with unlimited agents and unlimited inboxes, 

For an enhanced open source option that allows better web connection with your customers, consider using Chatwoot today. 

Want more info? Read our Chatwoot resources:

Tinode

This flexible  open source chat option was built specially for mobile use. Clients have access to an active GitHub community and can choose between cloud or self-hosting.

Features

  • Secure web socket communication
  • GitHub community
  • No license restrictions
  • Ability to extend the platform
  • Scalable server written in Go

Pricing

If you sign up for Cloud hosting, this will cost you $1.50 per user per month. The plan comes with up to 5 GB of file storage and custom-branded iOS, Android, and web clients.

Small teams can get free Self-hosting plans that include production monitoring and a simplified planner setup.

For $1,500 annually, you will have full support for your installation. The support includes help with all production issues and email/chat support.

If you're interested in a secure and adjustable open source instant messenger, consider Tinode today. 

Matrix

Matrix is a unique open source communication system that is completely decentralized and conducts communication over IP. This open source network is designed to interoperate with other communication systems. So it can bridge to other chat networks like Slack, Telegram,and others.

Each user is able to control their own data since each person has their own secure home server.  You can think of Matrix as a connection of individual encrypted servers that can elope together in real-time. The system currently has over 38 million users.

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Features

  • Private conversations secured by end-to-end encryption
  • Operates in real time
  • Users have complete control over data
  • Create chat rooms, chatbots, file transfers  with simple HTTP API and SDKs
  • Works with virtual reality to produce 3D video calling 
  • Bridges connections with existing platforms like Slack, IRC, Facebook, Hangouts and more 

Pricing

Further research could not find any specific pricing related to using Matrix. At the moment, it appears to be a free service where you can get involved by picking a client from an exhaustive list on the site. Once a client is chosen, you can join  #matrix:matrix.org

Here is a small sample of clients you can join in order to get involved with Matrix:

  • Element - glossy iOS or Android client focused on usability
  • Noti.py - python script used for posting alerts to a room
  • FluffyChat - a cross platform instant messaging app
  • Hydrogen - web client for personal messaging
  • Gomuks - a terminal Matrix client coded using GO
  • Koma - used to sort large amounts of messages for information
  • Syphon- client focused on privacy
  • Rambox - combines common web apps into one 
  • Miitrix - client for Nintendo 3Ds

Matrix is an exhaustive network of individual servers and clients working together to create a unique communication system. This platform can work with a huge range of web,mobile, and gaming clients. This free open source chat forum is focused on making continuous  advancements into the future. To learn more about this project, please go to Matrix and decide on a client to sign up with in order to get started.

Rocket.chat

Rocket chat is a diverse open-source platform where you can have real-time conversations with customers, other companies, or your own colleagues. This particular platform focuses on keeping your data as safe as possible. This platform is currently used by as many as 12 million users in over 50 countries. Check out the source code on GitHub.

Features

  • Integration with other apps
  • Build your own custom apps for workflow
  • Have conversations over a diverse range of channels
  • Unlimited code customizations
  • Heavy security compliance
  • SaaS or self-hosting for clients
  • File sharing, video calls, and audio communication with colleagues

Pricing

Self-Managed Fees

Luckily, you can install the simplest version of this open-source chat for free and still receive end-to-end encryption. For $3 per user per month, a team can join the Pro Plan and have unlimited customisation possibilities and unlimited users. 

Serious high-level developers should call the sales team for a quote to join the Enterprise plan. In addition to having high scalability access, your team will also have unlimited push notifications and an engagement dashboard.

Saas Fees

If you decide to go with SaaS hosting, there are three plan options - Bronze, Silver, and Gold.

A Bronze plan that costs $2 per user per month is perfect for the team that simply wants to control and integrate their communication tools. 

Do you think proper communication tools can help increase your team's productivity? If so, then the Silver plan may be right for you. For $4 per user per month, this plan comes with a custom domain and up to 100 integrations.

High-level business developers should call about the Gold plan that includes up to 1,000 integrations, an engagement dashboard and secured push notifications.

Have you been searching for a platform that has the advanced security that you need? It may be time to consider rocketchat. Join 12 million other users worldwide and sign up for this secure open source option today. Whether you want to chat internally with your colleagues or with external companies, this customizable chat source may be the right choice for your company.

Rallly

Don't worry, these amazing open-source chat options are not just for work, some are for play as well. Rally is an open-source chat that you can use to plan events and collaborate with your friends. Instead of going on Facebook or sending out e-vites, you can create a page for an event and discuss the details using this chat.

To date, as many as 83,053 events have been created using Rallly.

Features

  • Create a shareable event page
  • Friends can vote on the best dates 
  • Have discussions on the event page
  • Data is stored in a secure database
  • Can add to the project on GitHub

Pricing

This open-source chat is completely free.

Tired of using web pages or social media to plan events? You and your friends should give Rallly a try. Now all your friends can participate and vote on events that you can easily keep within your group.

Kchat

KChat is a PHP based chat application that requires a JSON and Mysql extension. You can access and download the code from GitHub. Installation is done by way of  Composer, Git, or downloading a ZIP to your directory. It is currently maintained by Ganesh Kandu.

Features

While this open source chat option still appears to be dealing with some development, there are some features available upon download.

  • Live chatting
  • Discussion board
  • Chat widgets
  • Messaging
  • Different download options

Pricing

As of now, KChat is still a free open-source solution. 

Some other open-source chat options may be more fleshed-out at the moment. However, downloading KChat  may be a good opportunity to contribute to or watch an open-source chat platform grow over time..

Final Thoughts on These Open-Source Chats

Now that we have reviewed these 6  open-source chat options, you may have a better idea of which one may be right for you or your team. Each option has different features and different uses to consider before downloading or buying.

For example, Rally would not be an ideal open-source chat for a work team. This is clearly something that is more for personal use among friends and family. The good thing about this particular chat is that it provides a private way to plan events without worrying about whether your invite page on a social media platform remains private or not.

Plus, a social media event page can be vulnerable and you would have less control over it. A chat like this allows you to keep your events among your small circle. In addition, it also allows the entire group to participate, as opposed to just checking “yes” or “no” for an invite.

Rocket.chat and KChat both have source code on GitHub, which is a popular community for developers.  However, Kchat  still has a long way to go, but it provides opportunities for eager people to contribute.

Both Rocket.chat and Matrix stand out as open source options for communicating internally and externally.  These open-source chats provide the most versatility in terms of the types of channels you could use them on and who you can talk to. In terms of technological advancements, Matrix seems to live up to the movie that is named after. Its ongoing work with virtual reality, particularly 3D video chat, is something to watch out for.

However, if you are a company that is eager to grow or maintain great customer service, look no further than Chatwoot.  Recently, I've noticed more and more chatbots on websites that I've been going to and I've wondered if there is a live person behind that.

To my surprise, sometimes there have been live reps. After doing research on these open-source chat options, I realized that I may have been at the other end of a Chatwoot webBot and it's pretty cool.  Say goodbye to being placed on hold on  a customer service phone line. Simply go to a website and have almost instant communication with somebody at the other end of the chat box.

Before you invest in an open source chatbot , think about the needs of your company or your social circle. Consider whether you have the resources to maintain an open source chat on your own server, or if you should pay more for the company to host it on their cloud service. 

Whatever you decide, there are plenty of options for your needs and many of these open chat sources continue to develop more enhancements every day. 

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