Chit Chat for Facebook is a Facebook program that provides a different platform to talk to your contacts on Facebook. The Facebook desktop client app, Chit Chat by-passes the awkwardness of Facebook chatting and allows you to talk to your Facebook friends without using your web browser.
Freed from your browser, Chit Chat sits nicely on your desktop and looks and acts like Windows Live Messenger from a few years ago. The styling is simple but pleasing on the eye, with a nice light blue that goes well with the average Windows colour scheme. Fans of customization might want a few options to jazz up the background, but I was perfectly happy with the look as it was and didn’t miss such options.
The simplicity is continued in the pleasingly functional display; contacts are split into online and offline, and notifications pop up in the bottom right hand corner of the screen when anyone signs in or out. The conversation windows follow suit with a white background inside a light blue frame, with yours and your friend’s messages appearing in dark red and blue respectively.
There are options here for bold and underlined text and a there is a decent tray of emotions to choose from. Updated from previous versions, Chit Chat now allows you to customize the colour, size and font of the text, with the option to choose a different look for both incoming and outgoing messages, and the titles as well.
The best feature however is the ability to switch between all your conversations within one window. A tab for each convo sits nicely below the title bar and flashes orange when you have a new message, which makes it much easier to switch back and forth between friends and avoids cluttering up your task bar with multiple windows.
Another great feature is the ability to update your status or write on a friend’s wall through Chit Chat, again bypassing the need to open up your browser. The status bar sits above your contact list where you’d expect it, which can also keep other Chit Chat users informed of what music you’re listening to. Right click on a contact (or use one of the hot keys given in preferences) and you can write on their wall, send them an email, show your chat history or recommend Chit Chat to them. I really like this feature as it makes Chit Chat into something more than a simple IM client, adding a convenient way of posting on Facebook without the need to fire up your browser.
You get the usual alert sounds when you receive a new message or when a friend signs in, which can be turned on or off in preferences. You can also turn the online/offline notifications off if you want to keep your icon tray clear, turn off automatic log-in and disable chat logging. There are simple buttons to show or clear your chat history, or to save a conversation for when you’ve been particularly funny.
The only key area where Chit Chat loses out to its competitors is that it only hooks you up with your Facebook friends. Other programs such as Meebo and Digsby incorporate MSN and Yahoo along with Facebook chat, thus providing a one stop shop for your instant messenger needs. However, neither are as pleasing to use and they can’t boast the Facebook related features mentioned before.
If you’re looking for a place to bring contacts from multiple platforms under one roof then you might want to try out one of the others. On the other hand, if Facebook is the centre of your social networking and IM universe, then Chit Chat is definitely the way to go.