Hall.com is a messaging network for business. We offer teams and companies a unified tool, which provides features like group chat, video chat, instant messaging and other core collaborative functions. Hall is used by thousands of small companies and some F1000 companies too.
Our vision is to let users not just communicate with each other but to get things done in one place. Under previous ways of working users have to shift between different products all the time using different user interfaces. Our goal with Hall was to enable this collaboration to be encompassed in one place. Additionally, lots of teams these days are in remote locations and so regularly use group chat to communicate throughout the day. We find that even with group chat, they still need to connect using video once a day and we felt it was important support that within our application.
At first we started building our own solution in-house using flash technology, however we soon realized that everyone hated flash. We made the decision to move away from a flash option, and at the same time realized that being a small team it made more sense for us to use an external service for video. Similarly to how we use Amazon EC2 for hosting – video was not core to our business and it did not make sense to have a dedicated internal effort underway.
In terms of options we looked at Tokbox (flash based) and we also considered an Adobe product, which has since been discontinued and so I am glad we never went in that direction.
It took us just a couple of weeks and went fine. API’s were well written and comprehensive. We liked the control the API’s provided which provides us the ability to advanced things within the platform should we need to.
One of the things to realize is that with video its important to make a good impression on your users from the outset, or you risk quickly losing them to more traditional methods of communication. People don’t have the patience to mess with settings or technology that does not work well from the outset. To work in this way the AddLive service needs to be correctly configured and I would recommend having the AddLive technical team validate your installation before deploying into production. The other thing is that the user interface needs to readily support conferencing and we have made some adaptations to ours which we are releasing a couple of weeks to better support the use case. We are excited about the future of video within the Hall platform.