Extending Zulip to provide Chat-With-Us_Helpdesk interface.

Here is the github repo: https://github.com/baali/chat-with-us

We at TaxSpanner had been using olark to help out our customers over chat interface. While there interface is very mature and gives all the features they mention, we were not able to manage things in terms of how customer was reaching out us via different mediums(email, chat, phone). As zulip got released and we were giving it a try for our internal team communication(both tech+sales team) idea was floated that could we extend the same interface to our customers too?

We set the target to get a prototype in place which could replace olark and if during trails feature requests are reasonable and manageable we would take a call. So idea was to expose a limited view to customers while having full feature interface for our Support Team. We created two stripped down and simple html templates which would be exposed to customers. Got a view in place in lines of home view of zulip with additional logic to route customers to sales team. Notifications for offline and online sales team, additional small checks in main zulip views to make sure basic views are exposed just to internal team.

Like function get_status_dict in zerver/libs/actions.py there is a hook for MIT users,

# Return no status info for regular users
if requesting_user_profile.realm.domain != settings.ADMIN_DOMAIN:
    return defaultdict(dict)

and additional check to home in views:

from zerver.forms import has_valid_realm
if not has_valid_realm(request.user.email):
    from django.contrib.auth import logout
    # making sure user is logged out from session.
    logout(request)
    return redirect('/support')

For adding this interface on landing page we added following HTML

<div id="zulip" style="bottom: 0px; right: 0px; position: fixed; z-index: 9999;" >
  <div>
    <div style="width: 200px; height: 32px;" id="zulip-chat">
      <div>
	<ul>
	  <li>
	    <span class="icon--speech-bubble"></span>
	    Chat with Us!
	  </li>
	</ul>
      </div>
    </div>
    <div>
      <br>
      <iframe id="zulip-iframe" height="350px" width="450px" style="border:1px solid gray; display: none;" src=""></iframe>
    </div>
  </div>
</div>

and this java-script code to handle user clicks

<script>
  $('#zulip-chat').on('click', function(e) {
  if ($('#zulip-iframe').is(':hidden')) {
    $('#zulip-iframe').attr('src', 'https://url-to-zulip-instance');
  }
  $('#zulip-iframe').toggle("slow");
  });
</script>

At the moment we auto-login customer after asking their email-id. For security purpose, we create a new private stream for the customer and unsubscribe it form previous existing streams. Ideally there should be a way(OAuth or server-to-server authentication) to make sure user is logged in on main site and then enable previous history of chats they had done.

I am not exactly sure about this (ab)Use-case of Zulip and quite possibly there could be something which I am overlooking/missing. But zulip has a really strong chat interface around which if we can integrate our APIs, it will give us a lot of control. Adding bots, notification, some simple intelligence and developing things on top of it could enable and extend the existing web application in lot of ways.