We've wanted to add conference calling to Campfire for a long time. The tech, timing, and motivation finally lined up. We're thrilled to finally release it.
Campfire is a chat tool, why does it need conference calling? At 37signals we run our entire business on Campfire. It's our virtual office. We chat, make decisions, have debates, share designs, do code reviews, discuss the news, etc.
But every so often we want to take a particular conversation to a conference call. Sometimes voice is better than typing. So now we just have to click a single link and everyone gets a phone number and PIN code to call in. We can have a quick call and then get back to work. Campfire also uploads a recording of the call back to the room for a record. This is especially useful for anyone who missed the call. You can delete the recording if you'd rather not have it stored permanently.
How it works
If you have a Plus, Premium, or Max Campfire account you'll see a "Conference call" block in the sidebar.
Clicking the "Start a new call" block will drop a phone number and PIN into the chat room.
Everyone in the room will see the number and PIN. The timer starts once the first person calls in (no minutes are used until there's at least one person in the room). As people start calling in, the sidebar updates live with the number of people on the call.
The call ends when the last person hangs up. The sidebar will close up, a recording of the call will be uploaded to your Campfire account, and this system message will be dropped into the room:
We also list the call on the Transcripts page. If you don't want a recording of the call you can delete it from there.
How many minutes do we get?
Plus gets 500 minutes a month, Premium gets 750 minutes a month, and Max gets 1000 minutes a month. Minutes reset on the 1st of every month. Currently we don't sell additional minutes so if you run out of minutes you can upgrade to the next plan up. If you run out on Max let us know - we'll keep an eye on usage and consider offering additional minutes for sale if enough people bump into the highest limit. Note: Basic and free Campfire accounts don't include conference calling.
How are the minutes calculated?
Each caller uses minutes. For example, if you have a conference call with 5 people for 10 minutes, the call used 50 minutes (5 x 10). If you have a call with 3 people for 45 minutes, the call used 135 minutes (3 x 45). We display minutes remaining on your Account tab. If you run out of minutes on the middle of a call we'll let you finish the call (we won't cut you off).
While each room can only have one conference call at a time, you can have multiple calls going on at once across different rooms. Each time you click "Start a new call" the system will generate a new PIN. This keeps the calls separate.
We hope you love it
And that's conference calling. We're thrilled to release it. We hope you find it useful. Thanks again for using Campfire.