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.
Bitbucket is often viewed as second best compared to GitHub. And while I love GitHub dearly, I have to say that it’s not true. It’s as good as GitHub. Sure, it doesn’t offer all GitHub features yet (Releases, for example), but it does offer a few features of its own, which are not found in GitHub (Projects and Approvals come to mind).
With the recent advances in Atlassian Connect – an API integration layer – there’s been quite a few apps and services that extend Bitbucket beyond what GitHub users are accustomed to. Have a look at this Pull request guidelines for Bitbucket Cloud.
It looks simple. But it’s super handy and provides functionality, which is not as trivial as you might think.
GitHub blog brings us a piece of exciting news – now you can add more attachment types to comments. The list is no longer limited by images alone. Now you can attach Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, as well as plain text and PDF documents. This feature alone will make GitHub Issues into a much more viable bug tracking option for many projects and companies.
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!