This story ends with me deleting Adium from my laptop, removing Skype’s “open at login” setting, and turning off Gmail chat on my work account. I just don’t need them anymore. HipChat has taken their place–both in my workday and in my heart.
In case you missed it…
…HipChat is now free for all teams, no matter how big. Yet loads of Atlassian customers are still messing around with group chat and communication clients. So many people missing out on so much awesome. Free awesome, even! As a life-long efficiency evangelist and penny-pincher, this pains me.
Now, I’m told that personal testimonials are powerfully persuasive. So here’s five reasons why I will never again work without HipChat if I can help it (and why you should at least give it a try).
#1: Persistent chat history
It’s actually a lot sexier than it sounds. I can start work in the morning and immediately see what my colleagues in Sydney and Amsterdam (and Austin and Tokyo and Manila) have been up to while I was sleeping. I never have to be the person who’s like, “Hey gang, can you summarize everything that’s happened in the past 16 hours so I can get up to speed?” It’s just part of my morning coffee ritual to scroll back through and catch myself up. I don’t even have to stay logged in overnight in order to see what I missed. Self-service for the win!
And if persistent history is useful for a humble word wonk like me, just imagine how totally clutch it is for people on our IT and Ops teams who have to jump into production troubleshooting or emergency triage discussions. Frankly, if persistent chat had been readily available back in my days of supporting 3am production deploys, I probably would’ve traded my future first-born for it. (Good thing it wasn’t, because as it turns out, I’ve grown rather attached to her. )
#2: Killer emoticons
Some of them really do slay me. I know emoticons aren’t the most compelling business reason to use a particular group chat client, but who says taking care of business shouldn’t be fun? All work and no play… yada, yada, yada. Among my personal favorites that come standard with HipChat are (freddie),(allthethings), and (truestory). I’m also a frequent perpetrator of (yougotitdude). My team has taken a shine to our custom (magic) emoticon. And hardly a minute goes by without somebody at Atlassian dropping a(boom).
Emoticons have become almost like a dialect around here, and their inside-joke quality creates a kind of bond between us. Seriously! I really think that the fun we have discovering, customizing, and using emoticons makes us a closer, stronger team in it’s own way. So maybe killer emoticons are a compelling business reason. (shrug)
#3: Kickass integrations
If you’re reading this, you almost certainly use at least one Atlassian tool already: JIRA, Bamboo, whatever. Me, I live ‘n’ die by JIRA and Confluence. Right now, we’re dogfooding an upcoming integration that sends a notification to my team’s room when a new page is created in our Confluence space. And we can have JIRA send an alert when a ticket has been assigned to us. All the dev tools have similar abilities baked in that send notices about builds, pull requests, commits, etc to HipChat, too. I don’t use those directly, but based on their ubiquitousness amongst our dev teams, I take it they’re pretty darn useful. One more nail in email’s coffin!
All my favorite non-Atlassian services have cool integrations as well. When someone sends me a link from Twitter or YouTube, HipChat automatically renders the full tweet or video so I can get the full effect without having to click through, load another page, and switch applications. I mean, it’s the little things–y’know?
#4: @mentions in group chat
We have HipChat rooms dedicated to just about every topic under the sun. A room for bacon enthusiasts, a room for Linux users, temporary rooms for coordinating around events, plus the more predictable rooms for teams and projects like the JIRA Support and NTT Migration rooms. Often times, we’ll get to a point in a discussion where we want someone else’s input (or simply have to share the bacon-wrapped meatloaf love with them). A simple @mention pulls them into the room. I don’t even have to remember how to spell their name or what their handle is–I just start typing, and HipChat auto-suggests people to me.
The handles themselves are fun too: I customized mine to be @SGD–my initials–and others people use nicknames as their handles. A little personality goes a long way.
#5: Easiest. File-sharing. Ever.
My team and I tend to share screenshots and other images more than anything else. And it’s dead-simple. I just grab the screenshot and drag it directly into HipChat’s text field. I don’t even have to save the screenshot to my desktop first (again, it’s the little things). Images from my hard drive are equally easy: I can drag them into my chat window or search for them from within HipChat. My team can see a preview of the image in our room, click on it to see it full-sized, and download it if they need to.
We generally create documents as Confluence pages and, as such, don’t have much use for shared network drives or systems like SharePoint. But we still need to pass around the odd .pdf, .xls, or .key. As long as the file is 50MB or less, we can do that with HipChat, which is really handy because the sharing of files usually come up in the context of a chat conversation:
“Hey @Nick, I love the slides from your last webinar. Can I steal a few of them for mine?”
“Sure! Here’s the deck. Knock yourself out.”
#6: Video chat
Bonus reason! Ok, it’s a bit of a cheat because team video chat is a feature in HipChat Plus ($2/user per month), but still. The advent of HipChat video is what allowed me to turn off Gmail chat and Skype–though I still fire up Skype when the kids want to “see” their grandparents. Turning an IM conversation with a team mate into a live voice or video conversation is awesome because I can do it in the app I’m already using. Same reason I love the file sharing and integrations so much.
So did I do it? Did I convince you to fire up a free HipChat account for your team? If not, drop a comment and let me know why. If yes, then (freddie).