Introduction about messaging and collaboration solutions
Slack is used by many enterprises and open source projects, like CNCF, Kubernetes, Istio, Rancher and etc. Besides that, many communities use it. In this article, we are going to explore some of the chat and collaboration solutions.
Table: Curated list of messaging and collaboration solutions
|Name||License and pricing model||Advantages||Cons and pain points|
Slack is a very popular workspace and collaboration software. Many enterprises, open source projects (like CNCF, Kubernetes, Istio, Rancher and etc.) use it. If you have taken some IT certification training courses, most of the companies and instructors also use it. For example Whizlabs, Tutorials Dojo and etc. One of the advantage of Slack is that it supports threaded discussion. So you would not get lost if there are lots of different discussion going on inside a group. One of the pain point of Slack is the 10,000 message search limit for the free plan. People and late joiners would have no idea about the conversations in the past.
Discord is a very popular voice and collaboration solution for computer games. Now they advertise their product is useful for work too. Discord is good at their voice communication. But for text messaging, it lacks the support of threads. It could be a problem if lots of people discuss different topics in a channel. However, Discord support unlimited message search for all plans.
Sometimes Discord requires you to perform mobile phone number verification. As far as I know it does not support land lines, VOIP and Google Voice numbers. Some users even got locked out of the account when they do testing on an alternative Discord account with a single mobile phone number.
Zulip was acquired by Dropbox in 2014. Dropbox did not actively promote Zulip. In 2016, the one of the author Tim Abbott started a company called Kandra Labs Inc. With funding and grants, Zulip is back on track with active development and more adoption.
One of the advantages of Zulip is that it supports open source project. Open source project can apply and use the standard plan for free. The main disadvantage of Zulip to me is that it do not support role based access control.
Finally, Zulip is written in Python. If you are looking for a Slack alternative with free cloud hosting, then Zulip is a good choice.
Element is previously known as Riot and Vector. Probably because Riot has bit of offensive meaning. Element has a distributed architecture, it supports connecting to several servers or connect to different data source, for example, Gitter. If the Matrix protocol and clients are used, it could be configured to support end to end encryption. In terms of UI, personally I think Element is the weakest among the solutions listed in this article.
JetBrains Space was created in 2019. It started deployment in beta with lots of companies and institution. Currently it only has plans with cloud hosting and they would release a self hosting solution soon.
The product is still being actively developed. There are lots of areas to improve, like integration. Incoming webhook is WIP at the time I am writing the article.
Currently, the users e-mail addresses are displayed and could be accessible by other people. Take note if you want to use Space for an open community. JetBrains said they may provide an option to hidden the e-mail addresses in the future.
Besides the list of applications that we had come across in this article, there are lots of options out there. Like Rocket.chat, Chanty, Microsoft Teams and etc.
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