Okay, this suggestion has been implemented and tested well enough to be fit for general consumption. I'm quite happy with the multi-room chat and view client available at squawkbox. It might have a new name sometime in the future and if this is the case, I'll update the link. This takes the purpose and considerations of m_turner's proposal, but changes a few things that I think make it a better tool for the job.

The chatterbox nodelet is simple, only addresses one "current" room, etc. Its main strength is how little it takes up in screen real estate. It works on the right-hand side and stays constrained and keeps page layouts working well. I'm not generally a fan of adding additional nodelets for a few reasons: performance, ease of use, positioning, etc. People tend to add nodelets and forget about them, adding needless additional calculations onto their page. It's not very easy to add them, nor move them around. Yes, this is an addressable shortcoming of the site, but it's low priority.

I'm not generally fond of having a separate control element from the chatter element. It's not blatantly obvious to add another nodelet to change your chatter prefs realtime, and I'd like for it to be fairly dynamic (one or two clicks to change everything). The nodelet adding and moving mechanisms are kind of crappy right now (and that's one of the things keeping us from splitting out private messages and chatter, other than tradition), so your control mechanism can end up at a different end of your page than your display mechanism.

My only other concern with the proposal as it stands is that the chatterbox nodelet might be too wide with the room name in it. I'd like for you be able to multi-browse all of the rooms, despite which ones we declare as "special". To accomodate this, some of them have some fairly long times. We could substr() the string and tack on a (...) if we really need to, but we'd need to cut the name fairly close to get it to fit on screen with a message. It's an obvious feature request that'd come up anyway, despite the current lack of popularity in the room feature..

I've taken the interface suggestions and replicated a little bit of chatterbox functionality inside of the squawkbox. We still use the message opcode, so it is as compatible as possible. We fake out a lot of the functionality, so it looks clean and doesn't require a lot of deep hacks to get it to work. It's tabled to keep the information as clean and in line as possible. If you are currently talking in a room, the room name will be bolded, and the topic shown. You can change the room you're talking in, delete an arbitrary amount of rooms, and chat all in the same action.

I might be interested in moving this to the small-screen (AKA the nodelets), but currently we have size considerations that squawkbox (as a superdoc) has the luxury of avoiding. I'm happy with it as is, but if people have additional improvements to layout and interface, please let me know. I'd also like to investigate this as a possible chatterlight replacement. We'd need to layout both this and showmessages in what turns out to be limited screen space for some of our users. We'll have to see. Comments and suggestions by private message, or longer than two messages to jaybonci@everything2.com.