Instant Messengers

Olark Instant Messenger

The Olark instant messenger can be added to the Merlin frame work, by default Merlin installs all the code required to run Olark but you do have register with Olark for Olark to function. Below are instructions on how to get your site ID from Olark.

Olark Installation

Here are instructions on how to activate Olark on the Merlin frame work

  1. Register at Olark
  2. Click the get code button and you will see something like this → Olark Site ID
  3. you will see your Site ID at the bottom, make a note of it
  4. Navigate to your MERLIN admin control Panel
  5. click modules from the menu
  6. paste/type your Site ID into the relevent box
  7. Tick the enable check box
  8. Your Done !

Olark has a free plan which is quite limited, but there are plenty of upgrade (paid for) options

but to get started a free account will work just fine.

Customise Olark

All styling changes to Olark are done via your Olark dash board under the settings option, dependant on which Olark plan you use there are different options you can use.

Using Olark

using Olark is quite simple but you do have some different ways to interact with your users,detail below are some clients or you can use Olarks web interface here

Olark In Chat Commands

While in chat as a support technician you have some commands that are invisible to the end user but can help your work flow here is a brief summary :-

  • !name - this stores a user name
    !name John Smith

    will store the name John Smith against the remote user

  • !email - stores the email address

    will store the email address against the remote user

  • !phone - stores a phone number against the remote client
    !phone 0123456789
  • !push - sends the current user to a url

    will send the user to the address supplied, be careful using this feature as the user may be doing something on the current page good practice is to ask the client first

  • !end - ends the current chat session

Olark Thunderbird

Using Thunderbird is quite easy just hit the chat button from the top menu, which will open the chat tab and set yourself online or set the chat session to start when thunderbird opens. If you close Thunderbird Olark will automatically switch Olark to 'offline' mode

Olark Empathy Linux

Empathy is a Linux Chat client that is compatible with Olark

Olark Pidgin Windows/Linux/Mac

Pidgin is a Chat Client that is compatible with Olark that controls most functions of the Olack system we will run through a few functions that Pidgin is good at and some things it's not so good at

Good Points

  • Splits your customers/guests in to one group and your operators in another 1)
  • Handles all your chats in one tabbed window so it is very quick to jump from chat to chat
  • light weight user interface

Bad Points

  • Difficult to put individual accounts into an offline state (this only applies if you are using multiple chat accounts with pidgin).
  • If you detach a chat from the main Pidgin interface it can slow your workflow the advice here is to not detach a chat if you are offering a customer support solution.

Screen Shots

All screenshots were taken from the Linux version of Pidgin, the Windows version may differ.


  • The Mac OS version of Pidgin may need technical knowledge of the Mac OS, if you are not technically minded use another client solution 2)
  • The Windows Version does not support audio or video chat so you will not be able to use Pidgin as a total chat solution if you use those functions with in Skype etc.
  • Linux version does support audio & video chat
  • I have currently not tried Pidgin on Mac OS

Comet Instant Messenger

The Merlin framework does offer support for the comet chat instant messenger, this instant messenger is more suited to sites that are social or community based and has lots of different fhan a eatures to Olark, but does take up space on your web server rather than just adding a site ID to the Merlin Admin Control panel. Comet chat is a paid for service some functions vary on the version you have purchased, as Comet is a 'one off' payment this can work out cheaper than Olark, which requires a monthly subscription3) Currently to use this messenger you need to follow the installation directions below to the letter else the installation will fail.

Comet Installation

To install Comet on the Merlin framework you will have to do a bit of work !

  1. Download Comet, be sure you download the custom coded site version, and install the software on your web server
  2. Download the following file from Noideer Software and place it in the Comet Chat Folder on your web server, this will over write the default comet file integration.php.
  3. run the comet installer
  4. Navigate to your Merlin Admin Control Panel click the addons Menu menu and enable Comet
to have more than one operator you need a paid for plan
excluding the free version