Minor correction: Microsoft's Yammer is a business Facebook clone, not a Twitter clone.
“Team messaging” company Slack has decided it's time to play nice with others by encouraging developers to pipe their applications into the company's chat app. Slack's investors have found US$80 million to fund “fund both 'Slack-first' apps as well as B2B and enterprise tools that make Slack integrations a core part of their …
But surely worth a brief article outlining some pros and cons of the various options considered and the pitfalls/benefits, without naming a favourite? This is an interesting area where small businesses could benefit and dip toes without huge cost commitment.
Fair call - I did a shout out a while ago to users, didn't get much back that was useful for a story. I'll add a feature on 'What the dickens are these team messaging things, how do they work and how can you make sure they work for you' to our lists of Stuff To Get Done In The New Year
So where were these infestors when we wrote app interfaces to AIM, then YM and later XMPP 5 years ago. W*nking to the sound of whalesong somewhere else? Guess so. Probably I am being old school here... dunno... Not getting the Silly Valley cluelessness vibe...
Hipchat is XMPP. Interfacing apps to that is trivial. Been there, done that, built whole systems around that. You can interface any well written java or a python app in a couple of hours. Perl is a bit more painful as the stack is missing key XEPs, but is doable too. If memory serves me right the HipcChat server is missing some XEPs so you are probably out of luck if you want to use it for app-to-app and m2m as well as app-to-human. Still, you can do stuff. Not as much as you could have done if you ran your own infra on let's say OpenFire or eJabberd, but you can do it. You also get all of Atlassian apps interfacing to that (and a nice fat bill for that too).
Slack is a DIY protocol which does not get anywhere near XMPP in that respect (ditto for the primitive gateways from XMPP offered as part of it). No matter how much good money you throw after bad it will not get anywhere near the potential of a fully featured XMPP server for interfacing apps. This also means that all interfaces will continue to be bespoke, custom and subject to change at a moment notice. Very cool. Very valley. Very "Sorry, what are you smoking?"
We're using Slack, but we've no plans to move off their free tier because it's just too expensive so it will never achieve full adoption here. Recently we've been evaluating Hipchat instead as it's a fraction of the price for the same functionality (more even) and it integrates with our other Atlassian products, it's just not quite as pretty which let's face it, isn't the most important factor.
We also have a long established XMPP platform which is widely used and offers the core messaging functionality, costs us next to nothing to run, is open source and an open protocol. It doesn't involve signing over storage of our sensitive internal communications to a third party with all the risks that involves. With some plugins on the backend (stored history) and much better clients, we'd have no reason to use either Slack or HipChat ...
We've been using HipChat here for a little while, and it has been working ok up until last week when they released a new version of the app for windows, which ended up breaking a bunch of stuff. (eg, it wouldn't run).
Apparently the OSX client is great, but the Windows one needs a lot of work before it's up to the same standard (or even supports the same features).
One thing to bear in mind that people seem to be ignoring.... Slack is popular because they pulled an Apple. They took all the bits that worked, and avoided the things that drove people crazy. eg:
-Very simple to create a new team and add additional users to that team.
-Unlimited team size, even on the free tier. You only pay when you need the extra functionality. Hipchat didn't even offer a free tier until it was overwhelmingly obvious that Slack was kicking Atlassian's ass. By then, Slack had already reached a dominent position in the market.
-For the most part, it Just Works(tm). You can use it in a browser, on Desktop, on most mobile platforms, and they all work pretty well. The only reason I know bugs exist, is because there's occasionally an update that says, "BTW, we fixed this bug." I personally haven't run into any.
-Further to the above, things that you would expect to just work, like being able to handoff from one device to another with full access to history, work. Before Slack, there wasn't a single system that could do that properly that didn't also have some other kind of serious trade-off.
-They are constantly making improvements that benefit users, and they clearly communication those improvements to users so that users know what to expect.
-No advertisements on the free tier.
The single thing that I don't like is that your data is not under your control. There is no self-hosted version, so we had to make it a policy to not share sensitive info through Slack.
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