How AntStack built a Serverless Platform for Anonymous Messaging.
Inspired by in-office whispers and gossip, the AntStack team saw an opportunity to create an anonymous messaging platform where people could communicate freely and express themselves without fear. Thus, the concept of HooChat was born.
With their serverless expertise, AntStack set to work on developing a unique messaging platform that would prioritize anonymity. The team’s goal was to create a safe and non-judgmental space where people could share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions without fear of being exposed.
The messaging platform thus developed was sleek, intuitive, and most importantly, anonymous. HooChat allowed users to vent whatever they felt, be it related to their mental health or their friends, or that rude coworker in the office, without fear of judgment or reprisal.
With the vision to revolutionize the way closed groups communicated, AntStack continues to refine and improve HooChat, adding new features and expanding its capabilities.
Like any innovative and disruptive startup, Hoochat faced its own unique set of challenges.
One of the main obstacles we faced was the need for separate teams of developers for iOS and Android development, which inevitably led to increased costs and time investment.
As we’re building an app that does not store messages on the server, all messages need to be stored and accessed from mobile storage itself. This presents a unique challenge in terms of data management.
Understanding user demographics, and app usage patterns and identifying the root cause of potential crashes or bugs once the app version is live to all users can be a complex and time-consuming process.
On the back end, we encountered a few speed bumps as well. We had to get creative with LocalStack, a cloud service that we use for testing APIs.
We also needed to tackle cold starts, ensuring that execution times were optimized to provide a seamless user experience.
Despite these challenges, we remained steadfast in our commitment to building an excellent product. We were ready to put on our thinking caps, fire up our systems, and get to work.
The primary goal of the Hoochat project is to create a revolutionary messaging application that caters to the needs of modern-day communication.
The team set several goals to achieve with this project, including:
- Providing a user-friendly interface: Hoochat aims to deliver a messaging platform with an intuitive interface that allows a wide range of users to navigate through the app with ease.
- Ensuring data privacy and security: The app does not store messages on the server, in order to provide an additional layer of security for end users.
- Offering cross-platform functionality: Hoochat is available on both iOS and Android platforms, which enables users to communicate seamlessly across different devices.
- Incorporating the power of AI: The app uses AI to provide personalized suggestions and recommendations for users, making communication more seamless and efficient.
- Providing a robust messaging experience: The team envisioned incorporating a range of features into the app, including message reactions, GIFs, and stickers, to provide users with a dynamic messaging experience.
HooChat’s implementation of disappearing messages is user- friendly and customizable, giving users complete control over the length of time before the messages disappear. This feature allows users to send messages that will automatically disappear after a specified period of time, ranging from a few seconds to 24 hours.
Once the messages are deleted, they cannot be retrieved or viewed again, adding another layer of confidentiality and security to the platform.
Fun and Dynamic Chats
HooChat offers a variety of fun options to enhance the user experience beyond basic messaging. One of these options is the ability to change avatars and have their own unique presence without revealing their identity.
To add a fun and playful element to conversations, users can reply with stickers and gifs. These expressive images can be used to convey a range of emotions and reactions.
In addition, users can post stories on HooChat, which allows users to share their day-to-day experiences with their groups and friends in a way that is more personal and intimate than traditional platforms.
One of the key features of HooChat is its anonymity, which is achieved through the use of pseudonyms or anonymous usernames to communicate in closed groups or via direct messages.
This anonymity feature is a key value proposition of HooChat, and was achieved using a combination of React Native and AWS serverless components. This feature provides a level of privacy that is particularly beneficial in environments where users are seeking a safe space to share without fear of negativity or consequences.
All you have to do is create a group or join an existing one and express freely.
Results that speak volumes
The Antstack team’s deep understanding of React Native and AWS serverless components, combined with their quick problem-solving abilities, played a significant role in overcoming the challenges faced during the development of HooChat.
With React Native as the frontend technology, the app offers a fast and efficient cross-platform experience for Android and iOS users, ensuring a consistent experience across all devices. With React Native, a single code base is all that is required, which boosts efficiency and saves time for developers. Additionally, we implemented the high-speed react-native-mmkv- storage for quick access to mobile data storage for all messages.
To understand user demographics and app usage patterns, we integrated Google Analytics via React Native Firebase.
Firebase is also integrated for sending group invites and message notifications while keeping up with privacy standards.
The execution time during a cold start would usually take around a second or two, which is neither ideal nor user-friendly. To improve this, the team added a caching system named Momento, which checks if the data needed exists in the cache before querying the database, reducing the number of queries and the time taken.
To address the high latency factor, we optimized and refactored the code, which reduced the API response time and optimized the API execution time, making it faster by 45%.
For performance bugs, we used Sentry, that gives us a detailed overview of errors, including stack traces, code context, and affected users, to pinpoint the root cause of issues and prevent them from happening again in the future.
Furthermore, we used Lumigo to monitor the performance of HooChat. The monitoring tool’s advanced features and filtering criteria offered a visual stack trace that showed the services used during the execution and the location of the error, making it easier to identify and address performance bottlenecks.
The AntStack team leveraged serverless frameworks to deploy a highly efficient and scalable real-time messaging app that places a strong emphasis on anonymity, offering end-to-end encryption, disappearing messages, and the ability to Express Freely.
In HooChat's words