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Dr. Supreena Narayanan

Content writer | Posted on | science-technology

What are the 7 Tips intended for Selecting a Chat API Provider>


There are seven ways you can evaluate and assess a chat API solution on your platform or app.

Product teams are more likely to choose to purchase app functionality from an API/SDK provider than build it from scratch.

A Nordic APIs survey found that three out of four professional app developers use third-party APIs for difficult-to-code features. Buying an off-the-shelf solution is often governed by lower long-term costs, increased time-to-market, and reliable backend infrastructure.

The hard decisions aren't over once the build or buy decision has been made. App owners must also make difficult decisions about which third-party tech provider they want to work with.

What are the 7 Tips intended for Selecting a Chat API Provider>

This whitepaper explains how top tech companies evaluated Stream in the context of integrating chat from a third-party API provider.

This article will help you identify the most important considerations when choosing a chat API/SDK partner, how to select a partner that supports your app's growth, and the questions you shouldn't be asking.

  1. Identify the Primary Functionality

Define the reason why you are reaching out to third-party chat providers. This functionality is essential for the growth of your app. Will it help you differentiate your product from the rest? Is it fun, and will it delight your users? Your team will be able to identify the main reason chat is required for your product and help you find API/SDKs that excel in this area.

Before Zumper integrated Stream Chat API, users of the platform communicated mainly via email. It was difficult to organize communications, made it difficult for landlords and renters to communicate effectively, and presented security risks. Renters often sent landlords sensitive information via email, such as their social security numbers, for background checks. Zumper wanted to ensure that these conversations were kept on the platform. Zumper needed a secure chat solution that could encrypt messages and protect data.

Zumper knew that secure internal messaging was crucial and focused their search on real-time chat APIs compliant with security best practices like ISO 27001 and SOC 2.

Takeaway: You can tailor your search by identifying top messaging functionality within an app that is crucial to product success.

  1. Highlight Secondary Features

Once you have identified the core functionality of your app, you can outline the features that you want to add. Your primary and secondary values, as well as the business case, will be helpful in your search for a chat API provider.

This decision-making strategy was particularly useful for ElissaEwers, director of digital products at Freeman's virtual event platform. Ewers was the one who created OnlineEvent, a virtual event platform that would allow attendees to experience the same event as an in-person one. Although it can take months to evaluate third-party technology providers, Ewers was able to sign up for an in-app chat service within weeks.

Ewers considered her primary and secondary chat features to make a decision. Freeman needed a chat system to support thousands of concurrent Livestream users and rapid integration. She also required a flexible API. Additional functionalities include engagement-boosting emojis

Ewers understood both primary and second-level chat requirements, which led him to Streams in app messaging solution.

Takeaway: Learn the difference between "have-to-have" and "nice-to-have" features in order to prioritize your product priorities and guide your tech provider selection.

  1. Align your Values

Apps that require customer support via chat are advised to look for an in-app chat provider. A trusted relationship will be established with third-party chat APIs by aligning and communicating the company's product values.

Steven Marques, senior product operations manager at DealerFX (a company that develops software for auto dealerships), was focused on finding a tech provider who shares his values.

Marques wanted to establish an internal chat platform to facilitate communication between dealership departments. He wanted the platform to automatically create a group chat with all employees involved in car repairs. He needed to partner with a chat provider who was open to working with Dealer-FX to achieve this difficult integration.

Marques collaborated with Stream's customer service team to make his chat idea a reality. This aspect makes his product stand out from its competitors.

Takeaway - You should look for a partner and not just a provider. For long-term support and innovation, build a relationship of trust with your chat API company.

  1. Check reliability

If you decide to build rather than buy, outages caused by service providers are your outages. You must understand the reliability of your service provider before you invest in integrating. In-app chat is expected to work exactly like text messaging or direct messaging. Any delay between messages can frustrate users and cause churn.

Ask your chat provider for information about past server outages and how fast they are resolved. Large chat API/SDK systems have a dedicated status that lists past and current incidents. This aspect allows you also to investigate each server's operationality.

A careful examination of the uptime SLA, which is how long a server stays up and running over a year, will help you find a reliable solution. A 99% uptime SLA is unlikely to be sufficient for your product. This aspect means that servers are down 1% or 3.65 days each year. The 99.999% uptime guarantee from Stream is sufficient to provide in-app chat services for the largest brands and more than a billion users.

The financial platform Benzinga relies on chat API providers to keep its users informed about stock market changes. It was crucial to evaluate server outages. Users could miss crucial trades if there were slight outages. The company's messaging system was unstable and unreliable. Bert David, the Benzinga Lead developer, says that there were serious stakes in having a reliable chat system.

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David successfully migrated Benzinga users' data to the Stream Chat API without any interruptions, ensuring long-term stability.

Even a brief outage can be a major inconvenience for your users. You can use historical outages and reliability to help you select an in-app chat API that reduces latency.

  1. Check out SDKs

man sitting in front of table

Although it may seem obvious, make sure that your tech provider supports chat SDK in any language you plan to use. SDKs can save you time and allow you to add features like channel headers or emojis, which could take weeks for your engineering team.

Check the documentation if a chat provider has an SDK available in your preferred language. The documentation is usually well-organized, easily accessible, organized, and frequently updated, and it includes examples, code snippets, and use cases. Chat integrations can be further accelerated by custom-designed UI kits available in different industry verticals.

Product managers faced with selecting a chat API need to engage an engineering lead who will work closely with the SDK. Highly skilled product managers should not make the decision. Product managers should concentrate on the functional requirements of APIs; engineers should assess technical requirements. A positive product manager-developer relationship can be fostered by leveraging the technical expertise of a trusted team member.

Stream's Chat SDKs are:

  • React
  • React Native
  • Angular
  • iOS/Swift
  • iOS/SwiftUI
  • Flutter
  • Android
  • Compose
  • Unreal
  • Unity
  • Backend

Stream's Chat UI Kits are:

  • Messaging UI Kit (for teams, livestreams, and in-game chat).
  • Mobile Chat UI Kit
  • Virtual Event Chat UI Kit

Takeaway: Verify that the chat API is compatible with the SDK you intend to use in your product. Also, review documentation with a technical leader.

  1. Ask strategic questions

After scheduling a discovery meeting with a representative from a chat API provider company, ask strategic questions to determine if a particular technology is right for you.

Below is a list of questions that will guide you in your search, organized by topic.

Product updates

  1. How can you communicate product updates to customers, and where can I see your product roadmap?
  2. How often do customers get new features?
  3. What can I do to get notified about new features?

Scalability and reliability

  1. How much have you been up to during the past 90 days? What about the past year?
  2. Could you please tell me about the last service interruption or an outage? Which was the root cause of your outage?
  3. What can you do to prevent future outages?

API Integration

  1. Have you made any API changes in the past three months? What were the breaking changes? What notice did you give your customers?
  2. What effort was required by customers to make the change work?
  3. What are the most recent major versions of the SDKs you have released in the past three months? How many of your customers have updated to the latest version?
  4. Which level of customization is your API capable of supporting?
  5. Do a trial before you buy


Even after careful evaluation, a chat API can be a great way to determine if it is the right tool for you.

The majority of legitimate chat API solutions offer a free trial. This aspect allows you to play with the API, download the UI kits, and sample the SDKs. Stream's chat trial gives you full access to the API for 30 days. This factor allows product teams and developers to see how the Stream Chat API might work on their platforms.