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Does chat include a screenshare or cobrowse feature?

1096 views   |   Last updated on Nov 26, 2018   

 

The sharing tool, which is available for any chat on a secure https chat box over a queue, includes two major components:

  1. Ability to exchange snapshots with the guest in any web browser.  Operators can extensively edit and annotate snapshots.  Guests can paste screenshots into their chat box to share then with the operator, but the guest cannot edit their screenshots using LibraryH3lp tools.
  2. Ability to view the guest's screen in real-time using screensharing when the guest is in a supported web browser (see "screensharing limitations" section below).  The operator can use any web browser other than IE11 to view the guest's screen. The guest needs to explicitly permit the operator to view their screen through a series of deliberate actions.  The guest cannot view the operator's screen.  The guest cannot initiate screensharing.

Screensharing works in tandem with snapshots within the sharing tool.  At any time while the operator is viewing the guest's screen, the operator can grab a snapshot of the screen, take it into the snapshot editor to crop and mark it up, and then send the revised version back to the guest.  Now operators can literally indicate, please click HERE!  Sometimes a picture can be worth a thousand words.

Neither the guest nor the operator is required to download anything special (like extensions or plugins) for screensharing or snapshot exchanges.  All that is needed is a modern web browser. 

Unlimited use of the sharing tool is included with each subscription at no extra charge.

 

Sharing Tool Overview

 

The sharing tool opens up in its own window and is available to operators staffing chat in the webclient or other chat clients (like Pidgin) and from the Chat History page.

With the sharing tool, operators can take snapshots of the guest's screen during screensharing OR upload their own screenshots OR upload any other image of their choice.  In short, any image can become a snapshot.  Snapshots can be annotated with rectangles, lines, arrows, text, and highlights.  Operators can also zoom and crop to focus in on areas of interest in the snapshot.  Snapshots can then be sent to the guest and/or saved to local disk. And of course, operators can send any file that they have saved locally to the guest.

 

Launching the sharing tool for a chat in the webclient for staffing

screenshot of the sharing tool for a chat in the webclient for staffing

Operators using the sharing tool from the webclient for staffing also can continue their conversation with the guest in the sharing tool window so they don't have to go back and forth between windows to chat with the guest.

 

Launching the sharing tool for a chat from a desktop chat client (like Pidgin):

To access the sharing tool, operators using a desktop chat client need to follow the chat management link that comes in at the beginning of each chat.  Clicking on that chat management link will take the operator to a page which looks like that shown below:

screenshot of the sharing tool in the external client page

 

Launching the sharing tool for an active chat from the Chat History page:

Select a chat to see its transcript and chat management buttons.

screenshot of sharing tool in the Chat History page

 

Inviting the Guest to Share their Screen

Screensharing is kicked off with an invite to the guest, which the operator can customize to suit.

screenshot of default screensharing invitation to the guest

  • If the guest is using an embedded chat box on a web page, then there will be a pop-up launched which in turn asks the guest to screenshare.  The pop-up is required for embedded chat boxes since screensharing permission cannot be requested by a page (the chat box) within a page (the web page containing the chat box).  If the guest has a pop-up blocker installed, the invitation will fail and the operator notified that a pop-up blocker prevented the invitation from being successful.  On the guest's side, they will have the opportunity to allow pop-ups from LibraryH3lp.  Once pop-ups are (always) allowed, the operator can resend the screensharing invitation without interference from the pop-up blocker.
  • If the guest is using a pop-up or follow-me chat box, then pop-up blockers will NOT interfere with screensharing invitations.

 

The guest receives the invitation and then has to explicitly allow the operator access to their screen.  There is absolutely no way an operator can spy on a guest without explicit permission (and a sequence several deliberate mouse clicks to grant that permission) from the guest.  And the operator cannot accidentally initiate screensharing because it has taken a sequence of several deliberate mouse clicks to get to this point.

Here's what a guest in Firefox will see when granting permission to share their screen:

screenshot of what a guest using Firefox sees to grant permission to screenshare

Unlike Firefox, guest's using Edge have a choice between sharing their entire screen or just a single application window. Here's what a guest in Edge will see when granting permission to share their screen:

screenshot of permissions dialog seen by guests in Edge

 

Screensharing Limitations

We would love to tell you that screensharing works in any web browser, with no downloads or extensions.  But we simply cannot do that yet reliably given the current state of web browser technology.  Screensharing relies on new kinds of APIs recently built into some modern web browsers.

So where does the real-time screensharing work?  At the moment, the guest has to be using Firefox or Edge in order to share their screen with the chat operator.   The guest also needs to be using a secure (https) chat box, but chances are pretty good that your chat boxes are all https by now.  If the guest's browser isn't using a secure chat box in Firefox or Edge, you'll simply get a note to that effect, and you'll still be able to use the snapshot tool.

To be clear, the operator can use any web browser (except IE11) to view the guest's screen, but the guest needs to use either Firefox or Edge when chatting in order to share their screen with the operator.  The guest can send screenshots to the operator (if screensharing is not an option) in any browser.

Chrome has gone a different route for now and, in order to share the screen with an operator, the guest would need to install a LibraryH3lp extension in their Chrome browser instance.  Such a LibraryH3lp extension does not exist, but if this is something for which you'd like to lobby please let us know your thoughts and potential use cases.

Safari probably will support screensharing. Eventually. Someday.

Internet Explorer 11 will never support screensharing.  As Dr. McCoy would say, "He's dead, Jim."

 

Sharing Snapshots

Operators can take snapshots of the guest's screen during screensharing OR upload their own screenshots OR upload any other image of their choice.  In short, any image can become a snapshot. 

Snapshots can be annotated with rectangles, lines, arrows, text, and highlights. Operators can also zoom and crop to focus in on areas of interest in the snapshot. All of these actions are done by clicking, holding, and dragging the mouse in the image with the exception of adding text in which case the operator simply clicks where the text should be inserted and starts typing.

Snapshots can be sent to the guest and/or saved to local disk for posterity.

Snapshot example: In memory of our sweet and recently departed hound, Sprinkles.

 

Once shared with the guest, snapshot thumbnails appear in the transcript for guests.  Guests can click on snapshot thumbnails to open the full snapshot in a new browser tab or window. 

screenshot of shared image for guest

 

Shared snapshot thumbnails also appear in the chat transcript for operators using the webclient for staffing.  By default, the images are hidden.

screenshot of shared image for operator

 

But image thumbnails can be revealed by clicking on the Show button associated with the snapshot in the transcript. 

screenshot of revealed shared image for operator

Clicking on the snapshot thumbnail (or file link if the thumbnail is hidden) opens the full snapshot up in a new browser tab or window.

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