Gmail chat problems

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I’ve noticed a few errors in gmail’s new chat interface. The gmail quick contacts are not always up-to-date. Just yesterday I got this this error message:


It’s a new service, so not too surprised that chat is seeing a few bumps. In fact it’s expected. I remember the first few versions of meebo(a web based chat interface for Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and Jabber), and the problems they ran into. One positive aspect of the chat problems are that gmail is unaffected. Email continues to work and is performing well. They’ve integrated it in such a way that quick contacts can fail or be unavailable (like above) but fail gracefully. Many popular web apps, even recent web 2.0 and AJAX apps don’t seem to be designed this way. They fail and fail completely. Designing AJAX apps that can handle partial failures is hard. Many of these app have deep callback stack to get the JavaScript to perform and work seamlessly. There are parallel asynchronous java script calls that need to be requested and handled in whatever order the server responds. So each piece of functionally needs to be carefully crafted to be independent and self sufficient. You need to think about how your app will act if it fails, or worse partially fails. Can it continue to work if it misses a server response or two? Can it error gracefully and continue to work when only a partial set of server functionality is available? This is especially important for companies building desktop replacement applications in which users will rely on for their day to day or even hour to hour work. So take a note from gmail and talk, build apps that are robust to temporary failures. If partial server functionality is available continue to process work and user interaction on the rest of the app. Gracefully poll the server checking for when the full functionality is returned. The error above recovered on it’s own without a reload or restart of the webapp. Impressive to say the least.

On a side note, Gmail itself has been rock solid for me ever since I started using it in June 2004. The spam filters are pretty good, but not perfect (more on that later), and it’s hard to beat the speed of the interface. It’s not the most feature rich mail or collaboration implementation out there but for a small mail volume it does a good job. Works perfect for my personal mail (40-50/day), but I’d have a hard time using it as my primary webmail client for work(200-300/day). I just get too much mail each day for gmail to be useful. It’s missing a few key features to manage extremely large daily mail volume. Saved searches and IMAP support being the first two that come to mind. I need a way to quick search on the same data multiple times a day. Labels work well to automatically categorize and simulate folders but can’t replace a rich search with the option to save. IMAP is a must have for off-line access. POP just doesn’t cut it when you want the server to be your *master* mail store.

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Kevin Henrikson

Kevin Henrikson

Co-Founder Acompli (now Outlook iOS/Android) at Microsoft
Kevin Henrikson leads engineering for Microsoft Outlook iOS/Android. Previously, he co-founded Acompli and ran engineering prior to an acquisition by Microsoft in 2014 for $200M. Before Acompli, he was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Redpoint Ventures, a venture capital firm for early stage technology companies.
Kevin Henrikson


VP Engineering @instacart was Outlook @microsoft, Co-Founder @acompli, EIR @redpoint.
Meet the Second You | Double - 12 months ago
Kevin Henrikson
Kevin Henrikson

20 thoughts on “Gmail chat problems

  1. JoshH

    I was curious…I use gmail at work and experience this problem but Google Talk works.

    As far as using gmail chat or Google talk, is there any way for my company to see the messages I’m sending in either program or is one more secure than the other?

    Josh H

  2. Pingback: Gmail Whoas - Kevin Henrikson

  3. Kevin

    Just to be clear both Gmail and Google talk work for me. They work perfect most of the time. It’s just recently they’ve had both performance and up-time issues.

    If you use https (aka SSL) then it’s almost impossible for the traffic to be read. Not impossible but very very hard even for the savvy of IT admins. As far as security goes they are equal assuming you are using SSL.

  4. Trini

    Hi Kevin,

    Try changing http to https I was having the same problem I did this and my chat worked fine because it was being blocked by websense.

    Thought you would like to know.

    Trini Logan

  5. Francois

    when i log in to gmail everything is fine but my contacts i chat to through my account is always off-line, no this seems impossible because one of them would be sitting right next to me and be online and stil show at my pc that they are not, now i have send mesages when this happens but he wont get them even though he is online, now please somone help me!!!!

  6. Place

    Voice and video chat works perfectly well 1 week ago, but now having problem.

    First, it doesn’t recognize that I have google talk installed – next to my name in the chat windows is a green dot instead of the little camera.

    Next, I try to reinstall it, but everytime I reload firefox and open gmail again, it won’t detect my camera. And I tried with my regular cam software and the camera works perfectly fine there.



  8. nagesh

    frequently, interupting while chating and showing as we are experiencing techinical difficulties that may prevent chating.

    please advise

  9. siva

    my gmail chat is disabled it’s showing error Unable to reach Gmail. Please check your internet what i have to do

  10. WebUser

    Internet Explorer is not recomended o this website. Please download Firefox by clickin here…


  11. Federica

    Good morning,
    I’m having many problems with facebook chat….I cannot use it anymore and I don’t know why….it always seems that I have no friends on-line, How can I solve this?
    Many thanks…..Federica

  12. J Sawczyn

    I have that smae error the “technical difficulties” with my gmail chat.
    Ive had this error for more then a week, on my desktop, but my laptop works fine.
    Is there a way I can fix this or somthing?

  13. aiswarya

    iam not able to chat in gmail.the chat box is not appearing.kindly please help me to find a solution for this.

  14. manjunath

    i am not getting gmail chat error probe is that due to some network issue please contact your network admin i am the admin what suggetion can you give me…

  15. tarani kumar jena

    my gmail chat is disabled it’s showing error Unable to reach Gmail. Please check your internet what i have to do

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