Jason Fried has an excellent write-up on the pros and cons of using group chat for the team communications, and some of the ways to make it better. We use HipChat in the company and while it’s vital to our operations and I can’t even begin to think how we could do what we do without it, it does have some negative side effects – exactly as James describes them.
The most valuable advice out of that long article is this one (I’ve heard it before a few times, but it’s worth repeating):
Think about it like sleep. If someone was interrupted every 15 minutes while they were trying to sleep, you wouldn’t think they’d be getting a good night’s sleep. So how can getting interrupted all day long lead to a good day’s work?
HipChat keeps extending the amazing list of integrations with other tools and services. This blog post – 35 new ways to do your work right inside of HipChat – lists some of the recently added. Included, among others, is even a multiplayer snake game.
Chat is becoming more and more important for team communication and collaboration (what is ChatOps?). Old school applications like Skype are being replaced with modern, web-based chat platforms, that provide group/room and one-on-one chats, file uploads, screen sharing, voice and video communications, API integration and more. There are plenty of solutions to choose from too.
Traditionally, self-hosted solutions were difficult to setup and maintain, and were lacking in integration options. So many teams choose to go for the third-party hosted approach. This is not very exciting for companies that deal with sensitive data though.
As mentioned before, at work, we are using HipChat. It’s nice, it’s free, and it integrates nicely. Lately, there has been a lot of hype about Slack, which I tried, but didn’t particularly like.
You can try the live demo, or deploy it to your infrastructure via a gadzillion different methods, or read the beautiful documentation. And there’s a rumor of HipChat and Slack import tool, so you won’t have to start from scratch…
Let me know what you think.
HipChat blog runs a rather lengthy post on what ChatOps are – “What is ChatOps? A guide to its evolution, adoption & significance“, which provides some insight into how the new generation of teams communicate.
At Qobo, we are at Stage 3 – Gimini, with a whole lot of dedicated rooms (one for each project, and a few more), some workflows (most notably “Hey Leonid, can you merge and deploy this pull request please“, or a shorter “@leonid, please m&d”), and some automation (we get monitoring notifications from Nagios and Zabbix, repository activities from GitHub and BitBucket, as well as do project deployments using slash commands).
We haven’t eliminated email completely, but combined with Redmine project management tool, we’ve significantly decreased the role of unstructured emails in our work.
HipChat – the greatest team communication tool since IRC – released its updated web interface to the world.
I’ve seen it before, as I opted into the beta testing, and I’m glad they’ve finally pushed it out to all users. It’s awesome, slick, and completely out of the way.
And if you haven’t tried HipChat for your team yet, I urge you to do so. Here are some of the awesome things about it:
- Unlimited rooms. You can have rooms by subject, by project, by group, and so on.
- Direct messaging. You can do groups on one-on-ones.
- Integrations! This is one of the major reasons to use it. We have it integration with GitHub and Nagios currently. And a gadzillion of other services are available in just a few clicks. Super awesome!
- History. HipChat preserves history of conversations, so introducing new members into a team is so much easier – they can read, scroll through, or search the previous room messages.
- Clients for any operating system, including Linux, smartphones, and just web.
- Flexible notifications. You can configure when, if at all, you want to be notified of the new messages. You even have an option to alert you with SMS, if you are offline. Which is especially handy if you are using Nagios integration or similar.
- Files, links, previews, emoticons, and a tonne of other goodies.
- Free! Yes, that’s right. HipChat is free. You only pay for premium features, which include video chat and screen sharing. And even then it’s only $2 per user per month, which still qualifies as free.
This tool is truly indispensable!