How instant messaging works behind the screen

  1. IM clients are not as easy as they seem
  2. Choose an IM client
  3. Verify your account
  4. View your account
  5. Send and receive instant messages
  6. Extract

IM clients are not as easy as they seem

Instant messaging programs like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger deliver billions of messages to people every day. While sending these messages may seem instant and hassle-free, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Although the conditions instant messaging and to chat often used interchangeably, they are actually two different things. instant messaging allows people who know each other to send text messages back and forth, while to chat takes place in certain “places” on the Internet, where people who normally don’t know each other can discuss topics of mutual interest (including via text message).

Choose an IM client

When you want to join the IM network for the first time, you have to choose: customer, or a program that establishes a connection between your computer and a network server. There are several types of IM clients, including the following:

  • One protocol – based on one application
  • Multi-Protocol – connects multiple IM accounts with one interface
  • by the Internet – used with internet browser
  • Business – designed for business use
  • Mobile phone application – intended for use on a mobile device.

Verify your account

Regardless of which IM client you use, the steps to connect to your account and contact list are the same; they usually happen within a few seconds:

  1. The IM client connects to the network server through your Internet connection.

  2. Once both are connected, enter your user ID and password to log into the network (usually you create a user ID when you first register to join the chat service).

  3. The user ID and password are sent to the server, which verifies that the login information is correct and that the account is in good standing.

View your account

After logging in, you will receive information from the IM client server. Again, all the following steps happen in seconds:

  1. The server collects data from your contact list, including notifications about which contacts are logged in and available for messages.

  2. The server sends data to your device in multiple blocks called packets, which are small pieces of information.

  3. Your IM client collects, organizes and presents both live and offline friends in your contact list.

  4. From now on, the collection and distribution of information between your computer and the network server will be continuous and instantaneous, enabling the speed and ease of messaging.

Send and receive instant messages

Now that the contact list is open and ready to chat, sending an instant message is easy:

  1. When you double-click on a contact’s name, the client creates a window where you can chat with that user. To do this, enter the text of the message in the text field and select or click Input.

  2. The client divides your message into packets, which are delivered directly to the recipient’s device. When you send messages back and forth, they appear within a split second of being sent.

    In addition to text messages, you can quickly and directly transfer video, audio, images and text files.

  3. If you have chat logging enabled, the conversation history is created and stored either directly on your computer or on a network server.


When the call is over, you can log out of your IM client. When you do this, steps are taken to stop you receiving messages from contacts:

  1. When you close the IM client, it tells the network server to end your connection.

  2. The server will stop sending further messages from contacts to your computer or device.

  3. The network also updates your “offline” availability for your contacts.

  4. Incoming messages are saved as offline messages and you will receive them when you log into the service.

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