Tech chats: Chris Powell, Product Manager for Sea/chat

27 March 2020

Find out more about Sea/chat in this interview with Chris

Every day the Sea/chat team is working hard on new improvements and features which we can bring to our users. This week, the desktop app for Sea/chat has beenChris Powellreleased and is now available for download. We find out more from Product Manager, Chris Powell on the latest release and what else might be in store.


Sea/chat is fast becoming the communication tool of choice in the shipping industry with over 2000 users. How does that make you feel?

Growth for Sea/chat has been steady since its initial release. It’s encouraging to see the number of users increase week on week in a way that’s manageable. It’s meant we can be confident around the performance and reliability of the module, and particularly the mobile app. Our users will depend on this technology for some of the business critical conversations and sharing information so I’m really proud to see how the market has adopted it.

2019 was a big year for Sea/chat, what were the highlights for you?

We did have a big year last year, delivering some of the most asked-for features based on feedback that we had. Some of the big wins have been the introduction of status, so users can change from online to do not disturb. We also rolled out message forwarding, private group chat history, group chat icons. The biggest delivery was probably the offline functionality. On Sea/chat you can access your messages whilst offline, draft new messages and have then sit in a queued state until you have connection again.

Was the offline feature the biggest delivery in terms of work?

Yes it was a lot of work, but it was also a key requirement for our user base so it was really important that we got it right. Non-compliant, more personal communication apps like Whatsapp already do this although the user experience is quite different to what Sea/chat offers. Knowing that shipping professionals travel extensively, either catching flights or on underground networks where wifi isn’t available, we understood the importance of knowing when critical communications will be sent, and also received. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve sent a message only to find it sat in an outbox days later. Our solution overcomes that and automatically sends messages when you’re re-connected and makes it very clear when they have gone.

And the desktop app has been released for Windows users. Great!

Yes, this was also in high demand from our user base. Whilst you can access Sea/chat via a web browser, it relies on users remembering to login in the first place to receive messages. There are a plethora of communication apps available and I’ve known some shipping professionals to be communicating across 4 or 5 of these at any one time! The vision really is to make Sea/chat the only solution that our users will need. We therefore need to make the module as usable and accessible as possible. The desktop app takes away the need for you to open your web browser and login. The desktop app remains logged in and shows really clear notifications when you receive a message, so there’s no chance of missing a vital communication.

With many people currently working remotely, what do you think is the most important feature for them?

Sea/chat lends itself really well to helping collaboration and staying in touch with teams, colleagues, clients. Working from home, if it’s not something you’re used to doing, could potentially slow you down whilst you get used to a new way of working. Logging onto networks, accessing your email, having multiple different windows open whilst working from a smaller laptop…with Sea/chat being cloud-based that definitely helps overcome some of those pressures. Also, it’s a really simple one, but Sea/chat allows you send large file attachments (up to 50MB) which isn’t always possible on Outlook so it’s a good channel to keep open when you need to send documents across to clients and keep business moving.

What’s next on the release roadmap for Sea/chat?

Where do I start! There’s lots of ideas and ambitions, not all of which I can talk about! In the short term you’ll see improvements such as image viewers, and last message read indicators and better ways of searching and navigating between chats. Alongside this we are continually optimizing performance to ensure that Sea/chat remains reliable, trusted and secure.