Pyro: Chat around the Campfire Jason 13 Apr 2006

24 comments Latest by cal

Use Campfire? Use a Mac? Wish you could see the # of unread messages in your dock? Then check out Pyro.

Do you wish your Campfire chats were contained in a dedicated application? Would you like to see the number of unread messages on the Dock icon? Would you like the Dock icon to bounce when new messages appear? Pyro does all that. What’s more, Pyro keeps a connection open to all the rooms you are in, making switching between rooms instantaneus. Finally, why clutter your screen with a browser’s tab bar full of Campfire rooms when Campfire itself has a perfectly good tab bar of its own?

As DHH says, please do investigate.

And one more bit of Campfire news: John Ratcliffe-Lee put together a post about using Campfire for GTD (Getting Things Done). We love seeing creative uses for Campfire like this. We’re not only using Campfire for chat, but we also used it to edit our book, store screenshots for historical record, and have quick brainstorming sketch-sharing sessions.

24 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Brad 13 Apr 06

That’s like hot melted organic butter on a freshly baked multigrain bagel.

dmr 13 Apr 06

Damn that’s smart!

Cooper 13 Apr 06

A multigrain bagel is like a taking a delicious breakfast item and rolling it around in cow manure.

All potty humor aside though, that Pyro thingy mcjigger is pretty tight.

ep 13 Apr 06

So, most of us use Then Campfire was ignited with a few good ideas about web-based chat, enough to make some of us commit IM-adultery. Then comes Pyro, bringing it all back… to an app.

I’m impressed! Does it export to html too? :)

ks 13 Apr 06

Maybe we could have some extra ‘kitty’ login security for campfire and the other apps ;)

SU 13 Apr 06

There’s irony in it being a public beta. Too funny!

Charles Jolley 13 Apr 06

This is what we needed to use Basecamp. Thanks for the pointer!

Charles Jolley 13 Apr 06

er, I meant campfire.

Rad S. 13 Apr 06

A cool idea. However, I can’t stand the page blurring effect during loading.

qwerty 13 Apr 06

Not to spoil the fun, but wasn’t the whole point of Campfire that you don’t need an extra application? And isn’t this application a hint that the usability of a web chat is lacking? I can still see the benefit of handing an URL to a casual user but otherwise I probably should stick with a dedicated application.

scott 13 Apr 06

qwerty, i think the point is that you are now free to make that choice.

Jimmy 13 Apr 06

Don’t badmouth 37signals qwerty. Everything they do is right!

J 13 Apr 06

Don�t badmouth 37signals qwerty. Everything they do is right!

Pyro isn’t a 37signals product so what are you even talking about?

Jacob 13 Apr 06

@qwerty: And isn�t this application a hint that the usability of a web chat is lacking?

Looking at the screenshots* it looks to me like the interface of campfire hasn’t been changed at all. It’s not like a separate app that uses a “Campfire API”; rather, it’s just embedding the Campfire web page while:

1. getting rid of the extra cruft of the browser, which isn’t necessary here
2. adding a few UI hooks for things like showing the number of unread messages in the current room in the dock

Jacob 13 Apr 06


* I have not actually used Pyro yet, so I can’t speak from experience. However, the site says:

“[Pyro] demonstrates a new breed of applications we call site-specific browsers�apps that are about making a browser-based application better with client-side technology while keeping the user interface intact.”

Jeff Croft 13 Apr 06

I haven’t tried the product, but it looks to be a well-designed tool that adds some real value to Campfire (dock icon bouncing, unread messages indicatior, etc.). However, it also seems to remove the single biggest benefit (in my mind, of course) to Campfire over other chat solutions, which is the fact that it doesn’t require a dedicated app.

Personally, I’d prefer to keep all my web apps in different tabs within my browser, rather than run a different app for each web app. Still, I’m sure there are people who will love this thing — so more power to them!

Alan 13 Apr 06

Not to spoil the fun, but wasn�t the whole point of Campfire that you don�t need an extra application?

I was under the impression that the point of campfire was sacrificing the niceties of an external chat app in order to gain the ubiquity that a browser based chat system, (without sucking like most browser based chat systems).

In other words, this

1. Go to
2. Download AOL AIM
3. Install AOL AIM
4. Sign up for an AOL account
5. Wait for confirmation email
6. Return confirmation email
7. CHAT!
8. Wait, I meant MSN messenger, go to

becomes this

1. Go to this campfire URL
2. CHAT!

With this application, you get back some of the niceties of a third-party application if you want them, but you still have the ubiquity of the browser for your chat partners.

Jeff Croft 13 Apr 06

Good point, Alan. This app might be perfect for power-user types that spend their whole day in Campfire (say, responding to support issues), while still allowing the customers (who presumably are less tech-savvy) to use their regular browser.

Gayle 13 Apr 06

I’m curious as to how you guys (37s) use Campfire to edit your book…?

RS 14 Apr 06

I’m curious as to how you guys (37s) use Campfire to edit your book…?

The book was written in Writeboard, but we did use Campfire in the last stages to compile edits.

Someone posted a final draft PDF to Campfire, and everyone started reading it. Instead of emailing our suggestions and edits to someone, we posted our ideas in a Campfire room dedicated to the book. Anyone who had an idea popped into that room and added a message like this:

“P. 38, last paragraph: change ‘teh’ to ‘the’”

The transcript for that room then served as a log of everyone’s observations.

We use Campfire in a similar way now to log the development of our apps. For example, we have a room for the Backpack calendar, and whenever something interesting happens we upload a screenshot to that room. It’s a great way to effortlessly string information onto a timeline.

And though these side cases are valuable, they’re peanuts compared to Campfire’s role as our production floor.

aw 14 Apr 06

TRANSLATION: Campfire used simplicity in it’s UI strategy to serve multiple purposes. If you made to too chatty in it’s interaction it would have limited multiple uses.

Kind of like Ta Da list. There’s no way to sort things (since that would require multiple sorting hierarchies), thus the users have to be creative as to how they want to sort INFORMATION. This works because, within the context of tada list, most people probably would have a fairly limited list. Anything more 40, then you should consider another tool (esp. since tada list if free).

You know Apple’s Mighty Mouse is like that as well. they don’t pre-define the buttons. It’s still just 1 click mouse. But you can tweak it the settings to work for your needs.

Random8r 17 Apr 06

… and here was I thinking Pyro was a screensaver ;-) Ah but that’s so Mac OS 8 eh ;-)

cal 18 Apr 06

I think the whole Site Specific Browser (SSB) thing is a really great idea; the only thing that puzzles me is why there aren’t more available? I mean, it took me all of 15minutes to throw an Xcode project together, using a WebView and a bit of applescript … and there we have a SSB.

I wanted a way to do IM through http, so as to not require any extra ports to be open … so, I used the online multiclient Meebo.

I know the whole ‘i’ thing is getting old; but here it is anyway - iMeebo

Seems to work fine; though obviously without the niceties that Pyro has … ie, progress indicator :(

Now; the point of my post - Does anyone else have any ideas for good web apps that deserve their own SSB?