Before you can use Ace Operator, you need to understand a few terms and concepts that we are going to use in all our blogs and web pages. This blog is a must read for anyone who wants to setup and use Ace Operator.
The Ace Operator system is a flexible system and many aspects can be customized to meet your needs. The configuration data is stored in (1) configuration files, (2) custom HTML pages and (3) the MySQL database. We have provided you a convenient System Administration user interface using which you can perform many of the routine operations and you really do not need to directly deal with the database. The configuration file modifications are less common and they can be modified using your favorite editor . Before you can modify the files, you need to understand what they do. Read my Configuration and Customization blogs for details.
Here are some of the terms and concepts we use throughout this site.
Operator: An operator is an user who services chat requests from the end users (visitors). The chat request is initiated when an visitor clicks on a chat button or link. There can be multiple operators servicing chat requests. Operators need user accounts to be created and are authenticated and authorized when they login to the system.
Visitor: A visitor is an end user of a web site who makes a chat request in order to receive some kind of a help or service. To request a chat session, the visitor clicks on a button or a link on a web page and enters his/her name, email address and some additional information.
Group: Although Ace Operator is primarily used for providing chat-based interactions between operators and visitors, it can be also used as a pure chat server. One or more groups can be setup and each group consists of a set of users (operators). Users within a group can see when others members of the group login and logout. This is useful for operators when they want to transfer a chat session to another operator or add another operator to a chat.
Queue: A queue is an auto-attendant that handles the distribution of the incoming chat requests and manages the chat queue in the event there are more visitors than operators. In Ace Operator, the auto-attendant is actually another user similar to a human operator. When a chat request is received, the request is sent to a auto-attendant user. The auto-attendant answers the chat and determines to which operator to handover the chat request to. The auto-attendant uses a round-robin distribution algorithm to uniformly distribute chats among available operators. When there are more chat requests than operators, the auto-attendant places the chat requests on hold waiting for the next Operator to become available. Since there can be many Queues configured in a system, a Queue property is passed on as a parameter to chat button/link HTML segment. See the Profile concept for more details. A queue is configurable. Administrators can specify maximum queue size, number of simultaneous chat sessions each operator can handle, etc. A queue can be activated/deactivated from the administration interface.
Chat Button or Link: A chat button is a HTML code segment that is typically displayed as a button or a link that a visitor clicks on to establish a chat session. A chat button or link can also be configured using which operators login and register with the system. That is, a chat button or a link can be configured for use either by operators or visitors. Although the core HTML segment associated with each types of button is the same they are distinguished using a profile parameters explained below. Note that there are specialized versions of the visitor chat button that provide special functionality. For example, we have created a dynamic chat button that displays different images when operators are available and when they are not.
Profile: A profile associates a set of properties to a chat button or link. The profile name is specified as a URL parameter in the HTML code for the chat button or link. For example, a chat button may look like
<a href=”https://demo.quik-j.net:8443/ace-contactcenter/Ace_web.html?profile=visitorToSales&locale=en_US”>Chat with a Sales Representative</a>
In this example, the name of the profile is visitorToSales. Associated with each profile is a property file using the Java Properties File Syntax that describe the characteristics of the chat application for the users of the profile. You can customize how the chat session behaves including which queue a visitor button is associated with using profile properties. Other than the locale URL parameter, all other properties are specified in a property files in the server. A property file is associated with every group and the file name has the syntax profileName.properties.
Multiple Tenants: You can use Ace Operator to setup chat services for multiple companies wishing to provide web-based chat services. Each company have their own operator queues and groups and do not interact with the other companies. We use this feature extensive for our hosted service.