Free, your server, not iChat / SurprizingFacts

Hello everyone, my name is Dmitry, I have been working as a developer in a small software company in Russia for 5 years already. I would like to tell you about how "historically" with the chat in our company, share your sufferings of choosing a worthy heir and the solutions found.


When I came to work on the first day, they showed me my workstation, gave me a computer, registered in Gira and Gitlab, and showed the main means of communication between employees – iChat. You might think it was something about Apple, but it was a bit more awful.

On my oh the astonished face of a colleague explained that it was historically formed (what kind of thread Link), and in general everyone understands that this is a little strange, but nobody plans anything. After all, ayChat (it's called Intranet Chat – Wikipedia) has many advantages:

  • is on our server and does not rustle
  • all for free (The author of the program released the latest version in 2002, free of charge)
  • "has an aesthetic and uncomplicated interface" (thanks for the quote, Wikipedia)
  • has all the necessary functions – personal chats and "message board"

Well, probably everything is ok, I just do not understand something, I thought. But after several weeks of using the lamp domestic product, its shortcomings became clearly noticeable:

  • there is no history – restart the computer, and if to you yesterday your colleague Vasya sent someone's e-mail, go read the logs in a text file
  • can not transfer files – welcome corporate ftp-exchanger, shared folders on disk, or personal clouds (I personally, if necessary, I drive my account OneDrive)
  • it's impossible to sit in a chat room from the extras (it's OK to write to colleagues only by connecting via VPN or RDP)
  • you can not write to someone who is offline now – if a colleague is working from home today, or left early, or now is off time – remember your message until better times
  • vgogonochku, the client is only under Windows of the time of the 98th version – no you iphone and online 24 hours a day
  • Naturally, there is no normal highlighting of anything: code, links (okay, there is a backlight, but you can not click on them), hypertext

Situation: we have a chat with limited opportunities. So many "impossible" that the head is round. Almost all employees communicate in parallel with the colleagues they need through some Skype, Vatsap and Telegram: files can be found there, and a client for android is available, and on a business trip you can be incredibly online. If you get sick, it's not necessary to transfer it to a colleague from another department through three people, that you will not be tomorrow, and to find that reference to habr the necessary information that you were given a week ago can be without prayers to Cthulhu.

So Why not just use Skype / Whatsapp / Telegram / Viber / ICQ?

Perhaps you can already say what the problem is. Firstly, all employees are huddled around their chosen instant messengers. One needs to write there, another here, for one of my colleagues I even kept a constantly running ICQ, he did not use anything else (even iChat). And that su is typical, no one wants to migrate to another chat room, and those who do not use them in principle (yes, there are many such programmers, mostly older employees, or paranoiacs, or even Another), they do not want to begin.

And secondly, I have in my telegraph some classmates, acquaintances, yes all my contact list, and it is impossible to separate colleagues from everyone else normally. And to find out that a colleague is in the telegraph, I can only ask him myself. Sometimes I do not even know that I have a new colleague until I see someone unfamiliar at the computer in another office. In short, chaos.

Then I asked our head of department whether it was possible to take the program of the newer and still from Apple more technically advanced, so that everyone would not suffer [garbage] and could Quiet chatting in one place. "There is no such program", – the answer was followed. How not, I thought, and I said that there really is, it can not be. "Then find, and then we'll see." Ok, now it's the digital age, it's all google, it's easy to find something sane, I thought. I was a bit mistaken.

Requirements to the chat from the organization

  • free or one-time payment of the amount below 5000 wooden ("now free, it's payable, and even 3k Every month "- about this attitude to the payment of chat is in the organization, and I, too, the toad presses to pay at the rates that American companies offer to other American and not quite American companies)
  • installing on your server if not needed, then at least very desirable
  • support for the Russian language (the English version can only be used by the development department, and then with the stretch)

Requirements to the chat from me

  • cross-platform. So that I could finally sit at a dinner, or in transport, or on vacation, to write something to someone from the phone, and to find out what someone wrote to me. And that my colleague, who has Linux, did not always make a sad face with the word "chat."
  • confined to communication in companies. That I had a chat where there are all my colleagues and only my colleagues
  • a living active project. To bugs, like frozen in amber insects, did not hang in the product until the end of time
  • file transfer. Well, why should I fill this picture in a shared folder, if I just can drop it in a chat room!
  • normal synchronization of notifications / unread. To not as in Skype – caught the message, and then within 24 hours you find a notification about it on each device.

In the footsteps of aychata

At first I tried to find something similar to aychat, small, local, free, for Windows, without wisdom. Russian proposals in this market segment are often something incredible: a poor set of functionality that was frozen somewhere in the middle of the 2000s, combined with a clumsy user interface a la "my first project on Delphi" and the horse price, which can Only dream of marketers from JetBrains and Adobe. Often complete or partial lack of support is included in the package.

One of the best options I found was chat "Commfort". The name intrigued me, but in reality everything was not so comfortable.

The cost of comfort for my organization of about 30-40 people: 16 thousand rubles.

The product has attractive features, but it scares off its interface and does not inspire confidence in its quality. Yes, and at a price we do not prolazim.

Unfortunately, after a few hours of Google found an option that meets my criteria, I could not. If it still exists, I'll be grateful for the link.

These are your hipster slacks

Several times in recent times, I once heard about slack in one or another place (Slack in the languages โ€‹โ€‹of the Romance group). What is this some new, hitherto unprecedented something, whether a chat on steroids, or a forum with a strange way of showing topics. Americans there from their slack baldeeyut, and every self-respecting startup uses it (on their MacBooks, sipping smoothies and coffee from Starbucks). One of my colleagues recently went into a startup, which creates a competitor of slack.

Well slack means slack, there can not be so much haypas out of nothing. A cursory examination of the patient showed the presence of new lotions, some channels with hashtags and an unusual interface. And the desire to be at the forefront of technology was certainly strong, but the interface of our overseas friend does not have translations into other languages, and it's possible for him to put himself on his server only if he is an Apple (who, as everyone knows, can do anything but not everything). Well, a little faile.

Oh, and there's hipchat. It's like slack, just hip. And also there is no translation, and also do not put it to yourself. But for hipsters. And for robots.

(with the voice of a robot hipster) Something new – it's so cool!

But I would like to have our

Already in order to be upset by despair, in a couple of weeks I almost accidentally stumbled upon Zulip – OpenSource-competitor of slack (and maybe not a competitor, who will parse them there), very similar to what I need. It is free and anyone can install it on its server, even if this person wants to be a company of 50 people.

Although it quickly became clear that this option is not suitable due to the complexity (there are sections in the sections there are topics, And only in the themes live chat rooms, in which you can write something) and, how can I say it without anglicisms … Okay, so much without them, the User Experience in it in general is sad. And yes, only in English.

Approximately so looks the patient with an incomprehensible name

But after all it is already closer, and really there can be something suitable in the world OpenSource! A bit more of a search string, and found Mattermost and Rocket chat. The last in the end also received a prize of audience sympathy named after me, and entered our house as a new member of the software ecosystem. And all why, because translations, translations have it!

Here's how it all looks like this

Briefly buns and minisks of a chat roquet

First of course the pros:

  • There is a translation into Russian. Yes, it is not complete, but almost, and in which case something can be done to translate the necessary things into your own language. Translations are hosted on the portal lingohub.com, specially made for this. The author of this post to his honor (and modesty) translated 60% of what has not been translated yet, and is not going to stop.
  • You can put one line on your server under Linux (really, one, and it works).
  • Clients are under all platforms except Windows Phone ๐Ÿ™ poor, poor WP! (I myself former owner of Lumia)
  • There is a web version, you can quickly go with any device and, say, transfer the log file from the client's computer, send a stack or just write a colleague
  • Separately, you can configure all notifications: from which chats you show notifications, and from which there is no; Separate notification settings for mobile and desktop devices
  • There is a file server, you can throw files
  • Free of charge
  • New features are being developed, new features are being mashed, bugs are being fixed

Now the cons:

  • Bugs. Where without them, my dear ones. They are. In some places when you press somewhere, nothing happens, in some places, on the contrary, something happens that you do not expect at all. But I must say that there are not many of them, and in general the situation is similar to that of Xiaomi: it is cheap and with bugs, but it will go on the whole.
  • A desktop client on an electron, which in itself may not be a minus, but still not very cool.
  • The mobile client is practically a copy of the desktop, connected via WebView (probably). On the smartphone it works not brightly and not responsive.
  • There is nowhere in the interface a list of all users. I do not know about you, but I want to see a list of all my colleagues in the corporate chat room. Because I do not know the names of some of my colleagues, but I do not know the existence of some.
  • Hmmm, what else is there. Yes, there is no "On vacation" status. So I went on vacation, put the status "on vacation" and everything in chocolate.

Who is interested, the chat room is on the free demo server with full access right here.

What cool chips I found for myself in new chat rooms

Avatars – let novices or just introverts better

Integration – allow to throw in the chat gifki to show notifications about events from GitLab-server, new articles from the corporate blog, and even knows what from The devil knows what.

In conclusion

In general, at the moment we are rolling out a rocket chat in several departments, all those who wanted to join it.

Now I'm racking my brains about another – how do I make sure that all employees forget about the good old chic and use the new, hipstormian Rocket Chat. And at times I think, but did I make the right choice.

P. S. If you read this article and you have an idea in your head "why did the author write this wonderful article", I will immediately answer:

First, my experience can Someone will come in handy. If I stumbled upon such an article at the beginning of my search, this would save me a lot of effort. I hope this helps those who are in my place.

And secondly, I'm still in ah … Oh, what amazement around everything that is happening now in the messenger market, and a clear understanding of what to do to all employees were happy, I do not. Therefore, I hope that in the comments I will be prompted by those decisions that I missed, or at least share their experience in this matter.

Third, the author simply wanted to complain about how bad this world is, the unattainability of ideals And the futility of being, but Habr Giktimes is not a plaintive book, so about this tsssssss …

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