Here at GoSquared, we’ve long been fans of Campfire by 37Signals. We’ve been using it for a couple of years for our internal team chat, along with the help of our friendly company Hubot (an awesome chatbot made by GitHub). However, there have always been a couple of things we haven’t been so keen on: there’s a roughly five-second delivery lag on messages (which means you can be waiting about ten seconds for a reply from Hubot); there’s no support for one-on-one chats or private groups (we used Skype for this); the Jenkins Plugin (which we used to track all our code builds and deploys) has been broken for months; the official first-party is, well, a bit rubbish (although Flint for Mac and iOS is excellent); and there’s no native app for Android at all.
So, with the news that 37signals is no longer focusing on Campfire, we took the opportunity to investigate other options.
Slack is a relatively-new (only just today out of limited preview) communication platform that serves as a drop-in replacement for Campfire. We’ve actually been on the limited preview since November, but we thought we’d give it a shot and experiment with it. In a somewhat bold move last Friday, we decided to ditch Campfire completely for the morning and communicate only in Slack, to see how easy it was to use. And, well, we never looked back!
Slack is everything we need for team communication. It has group chats (or “channels”), which you divide by purpose (for example, we have a development channel, a design channel, a channel for random silly stuff, and several others). It has one-on-one direct messages, meaning we can do away with Skype and communicate solely in one place. It has native Mac, iOS and Android apps.
And it’s fast. Boy is it fast. It may not seem like much, but coming from Campfire, where every message would take several seconds to be delivered (a bit ridiculous if you’re just chatting to the person sitting right next to you), having a chat where messages come through as good as instantaneously, or where you only have to wait half a second for a reply from Hubot, makes a huge difference.
Integrate ALL OF THE THINGS
The best part of all is all the available service integrations. We now have a one-stop-shop with all our GitHub activity, Jenkins builds, PagerDuty notifications, Desk.com customer support and much more. We even got to keep Hubot and all our custom commands thanks to their Hubot adapter. And it was all ridiculously easy to set up. Not only did we switch our whole team to Slack in that one morning, we also got almost all of our core service notifications set up too. And we’re still adding the odd extra one every now and again.
It’s still early days for GoSquared and Slack, but we love what we see so far. We’ve been using it for less than a week and it’s already completely reinvented the way we communicate as a team.
Stay tuned to the Engineering Blog for updates on how we use Slack as a team. Also keep an eye out if you’re more interested in the technical stuff, like our service integrations or how we use Hubot — we’ll be posting more abuot that in the next few days!
P.S. Just yesterday, Slack launched publicly – if you’d like to get $100 of service credit, and reward us with the same, then sign up here and do us both a favour.