Slack communities for open source projects have become very popular over the past of couple years. Slack has taken hold because it makes collaborative chat really easy and accessible for the masses, something IRC wasn’t able to achieve.
Slack is amazing for teams working together but there are downsides to using it for open source communities. One of those downsides is they’re closed off to search engines. When someone gets help with an issue it’s forgotten about. Another issue is that they are usually free Slack communities, which means they have limited archives. Once the limit is reached, messages are deleted.
Recently we have started looking into ways to make sure we’re available to the community for our open source projects. One of the ideas was to have Slack channels where we could collaborate with the community, but considering the limitations stated above, we couldn’t pick Slack.
In our search for something with Slack-like qualities, we found Gitter, which checks pretty much all of the boxes! One problem though: we knew that if we had two different chat apps we would end up forgetting about one (and it was going to be Gitter). If only there were a way to combine them…
There’s a service out there that allows you to connect one chat app to another called Sameroom (see what I did there? (☞ﾟヮﾟ)☞). We decided to give it a shot and, I have to say, it’s pretty damn neat. We connected our internal open source Slack channels to the Gitter chatrooms we set up. Now we will get messages posted in our Slack channel whenever someone posts in our Gitter chatroom.
We decided to only have the chat go one way. The internal Slack chat won’t post to Gitter because we’re not crazy about the way it integrates. Every post in our Slack channel comes from Sameroom bot in the Gitter chat. If it was easier to distinguish who those posts were coming from we’d absolutely enable it. Gitter covers this limitation in this blog post.
Other than that one issue, this integration seems to work pretty well! We’ve set it up for two of our projects and are looking to add more in the future. Come chat with us in the Frontmacs or BigTest Gitter!