Configuring Ace Operator for Mobile Users

In this blog, I describe what you need to do to set up your configuration so that visitors and/or operators can access Ace Operator using smart phones and tablet devices. If you are setting up a new operator group and you intend to provide mobile user support, then this blog applies to you. If you have an existing operator group already in operation and you want to add mobile support to it, then skip this article and instead follow the upgrade steps in my blog on How To Upgrade an Existing Configuration to Support Mobile Users. For purposes of this discussion, both visitor and operator mobile access are covered; of course, you can decide to provide only one or the other in which case just follow the parts that pertain to the user for which you want to provide mobile access. Before proceeding, please make sure that you are familiar with the blogs on the Core ConceptsConfiguration and Customization.

Ace Operator supports visitors using tablet devices or mobile (smart) phones, and it supports operators using tablet devices. Mobile phone support for operators is not recommended due to insufficient window size on the device. Some of the configuration, as you will see, is shared by the different mobile devices while other configuration items are unique to the device.

Configuring Ace Operator for mobile access involves defining mobile-specific profiles and some additional customization, as described below.

Mobile Profiles

In order to provide mobile access to users, you’ll need mobile-specific visitor/operator profiles because the performance and look and feel related properties will need to be different from the desktop version. In addition to the standard (desktop) default-operator.properties and default-visitor.properties provided under .ace/profiles, there you’ll also find the 3 mobile versions of these profiles: default-operator-tablet.properties, default-visitor-mobile.properties (for smart phones) and default-visitor-tablet.properties. These mobile profiles are used (referenced) the same way the standard profiles are, using the profile file name minus the “.properties” suffix, as in http://Server:8080/ace-contactcenter?profile=ProfileName&locale=localeName - see configuring Ace Operator click-to-chat for details on profiles.

The majority of operator/visitor profile properties apply to both the desktop and mobile versions of the profiles, but there are some slight differences. The mobile profile properties with values that deviate from the standard desktop properties include:

  1. fastPollTimer: The value for this property defaults to a larger value since many mobile data plans charge based on the bandwidth used.
  2. smallSpace: This is set to true for mobile/tablet to reduce the spacing between lines in the transcript section of the chat window.
  3. theme: For visitor mobile (smart phone) profile, this is set to chrome-large to improve readability.
  4. operatorAvailableOnClickUrl and operatorBusyOnClickUrl: these properties are replaced with operatorAvailableHrefUrl and operatorBusyHrefUrl to bring up the appropriate page on the mobile device, based on operator availability.

The configuring Ace Operator click-to-chat discussion lists all of the operator and visitor properties available. As you are setting up your standard desktop operator and visitor profiles, set up your mobile profiles at the same time:

  1. In the .ace/profiles directory, copy the default-operator-tablet.properties, default-visitor-mobile.properties and default-visitor-tablet.properties files, renaming them to replace ‘default’ with a name representing your new operator group;
  2. For operator profiles: whatever properties/values you decide to set in your desktop operator profile, apply them also to the tablet operator profile noting the above mentioned property differences which are already accounted for in the tablet version of the profile;
  3. For visitor profiles: whatever properties/values you decide to set in your desktop visitor profile, apply them also to the tablet/mobile visitor profiles noting the above mentioned property differences which are already accounted for in the tablet/mobile versions of the profile.

Once you have completed this, your mobile profiles are set up.

Customization for Mobile

You can find HTML pages for mobile support in the tomcat webapps/ace-custom/groups/default directory. If you’re not using the ‘default’ group that comes with the installation, copy the default mobile HTML pages to your own group’s webapps/ace-custom/groups/<your group> directory if they’re not already there – you’ll need to edit them to reference your own profile names instead of the default ones.

The blog on Customization explains these HTML pages, including the mobile ones, and also how to customize forms and operator access buttons. Jump now to the Customization blog to complete the process of configuring Ace Operator for mobile access.

Testing It All Out

You should now be able to test out mobile access using the instructions below, with any combination of desktop and mobile/tablet devices assuming you’ve enabled mobile for both visitors and operators (that is, visitor-to-operator can be mobile-to-tablet, mobile-to-desktop, tablet-to-tablet, tablet-to-desktop, desktop-to-tablet, desktop-to-desktop).

Notes:

  1. You may find the chat sessions are taking longer than usual to setup and send/receive messages. This is because we have increased the poll timer to avoid a large amount of mobile messaging (most providers charge by bandwidth usage).
  2. Once you have reached the Ace Operator page with the operator login button or the visitor click-to-chat button, you can add that page to your home screen. This is very useful because (1) there is no need to type the URL every time and (2) the application occupies the full screen without the URL address window, adding more screen real-estate.

In the steps below, replace “default” with the name of your operator group and associated profiles.

(1) For the Mobile Operator: From a tablet device (example, Apple iPad, Asus transformer, Google nexus), with Internet access (3G/4G/WiFI), open the browser and enter the following URL:

http://Server:8080/ace-custom/groups/default/operator_mobile.html

or

http://Server:8080/ace-custom/groups/default/chat_mobile.html?profile=default-operator-tablet&locale=localeName

Or, if you’re not using customization:

http://Server:8080/ace-contactcenter?profile=default-operator-tablet&locale=localeName

You should see an operator login or connect button. Click on it and log in as an operator. You should see the usual set of operator tabs and content. When a visitor chat arrives, you can answer it and chat as usual.

(2) For the Mobile Visitor: From a smartphone or tablet device (example, Apple iPhone or Android phone, Apple iPad, etc.) with Internet access (3G/4G/WiFI), open the browser and enter the following URL:

http://Server:8080/ace-custom/groups/default/visitor_mobile.html

or

http://Server:8080/ace-custom/groups/default/chat_mobile.html?profile=default-visitor-device&locale=localeName

where ‘device‘ = mobile or tablet, depending on the actual device used.

Or, if you’re not using customization:

http://Server:8080/ace-contactcenter?profile=default-visitor-device&locale=localeName

where ‘device‘ = mobile or tablet, depending on the actual device used.

You should see a button with the operator icon (if an operator is available). Click on the button and you will be connected to the operator.

 

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