The State of Gitter


#1

Greetings ManageIQ community!

I wanted to throw this out there, and see what people think…

We have been using Gitter for a while so far, and it has served us well, but it is starting to show its age. The desktop client hasn’t seen an update in about a year, and the iOS app hasn’t seen an update in a bit as well (in fact I cannot find the iOS app code on GitHub or GitLab anymore). Looking at the projects, I see very old PR’s with no feedback. So, I’m wondering if we should start to look for an alternative.

Requirements

  • Cross Platform (Mac / Linux / iOS / Android)
  • Strong / Active Development
  • Rooms with Permissions
  • 1:1 chats

(feel free to chime in with others).

As for possibilities, I have seen a few open source projects start to move to Discord (https://home-assistant.io/blog/2017/07/03/home-assistant-is-moving-to-discord/), it was originally written for Gamers, but it has evolved quite a ways (and it is one of the few that is cross platform).

We can also look at running our own RocketChat server or MatterMost instance; both of these are solid Open Source apps, but we would need to maintain the servers (not really ideal).

I’m sure there are lots more (IRC, Matrix, etc); so I would love for the community to chime in.


#2

Personally I like Gitter but that’s just me… :slight_smile:


#3

Let’s not switch unless absolutely necessary. There is no reason to switch now (as far as I know), and any such attempt will mean we will have to watch 2 places instead of 1. (Well, 3 instead of 2 since IRC is never going away.)

Additionally, gitter got bought by gitlab recently and they wanted to opensource it, so… I’d be surprised if it is indeed dead.


#4

I am also for keeping Gitter over switching.

Primarily, I’m concerned with the switching overhead. Switching to a new chat service requires a huge community shift, so IMO there needs to be a lot of compelling reasons. One bullet point missed above is preference for open source, and gitter is open source. While being open source is not required, I prefer it where possible. I don’t believe discord is open source (or at least I can’t find it, and all articles I see point to it not being open source).

I have used Discord in the past and I do like it, but there’s maybe 1 or 2 features it providers over Gitter, which IMO isn’t enough to switch.

I have seen a few open source projects start to move to Discord

Aside from home assistant, what are the other projects that have moved? Curious to hear more points of view. From the home assistant link you showed, a few people in the comments were not happy with the switch.

in fact I cannot find the iOS app code on GitHub or GitLab anymore

I asked their gitter channel where the source lives, so let’s see what their reply is. That being said, it doesn’t seem it being open source is important to you since your choice of discord isn’t open source at all.


#5

I’m also a bit hesitant to switch from Gitter, especially to another platform that doesn’t seem to be used by other communities close to us (the ‘yet another chat app to check’ argument). Although you cite Home Assistant, it’s the communities close to us (ex: communities close to us like Kubernetes, which uses Slack) that would seem to make a better argument to follow.

If there’s any pattern towards ‘the thing most projects are starting to use’ it’s surely Slack - not that I think that’s the obvious ‘best choice’ or enough reason to want to switch to it.


#6

I asked their gitter channel where the source lives, so let’s see what their reply is.

That would be good to know. Let me know :slight_smile:

That being said, it doesn’t seem it being open source is important to you since your choice of discord isn’t open source at all.

Open source is important to me, but one has to balance a lot of factors when choosing a solution (e.g. GitHub vs. GitLab, Mac vs. Linux, etc).

communities close to us like Kubernetes, which uses Slack

I’d be totally down to switch to Slack (frankly, I’d prefer Slack). I just suggested Discord (1) just an a suggestion since Slack was discussed in the past and shot down, and (2) the point of this post is to move away from Gitter.

There is no reason to switch now (as far as I know), and any such attempt will mean we will have to watch 2 places instead of 1. (Well, 3 instead of 2 since IRC is never going away.)

Certainly, valid, but I guess a “sub-point” to this post would be to switch to one standard so we don’t have to check lots of places. To @chrisarcand 's point…PatternFly uses Slack, so some of us already monitor several. I’m not 100% why IRC wouldn’t go away (perhaps that’s a topic for another talk post).

Additionally, gitter got bought by gitlab recently and they wanted to opensource it, so… I’d be surprised if it is indeed dead.

Gitter “appears” to be in a unmaintained state and there is no indication of that changing. Maybe it will…I doubt GitLab would buy something just to drop it…but, hey it happens. I would rather be thinking ahead vs. scrambling to change at the last minute. There has been no update form GitLab as to what is happening…I’d like to think that soon there will be an update / announcement, but again…it’s been nothing by silence.

Again, just my thoughts…


#7

I asked their gitter channel where the source lives, so let’s see what their reply is.

That would be good to know. Let me know :slight_smile:


#8

I was referring to the iOS code.


#9

:point_right: November 6, 2017 10:52 AM - answer is, no, they are not available. Asked a follow up to see if it will be open sourced at some point and just waiting on an answer.


#10

Answer is yes: https://gitter.im/gitterHQ/topics/topic/59ee0005b20c642429399a95/are-there-any-plans-for-open-sourcing-the-android-and-ios-apps


#11

We are already in this situation of watching multiple places:

  1. a lot of projects work with irc, and provider teams have no choice but to be on both irc and gitter. this is not convenient already today.
  2. there are a lot of gitter rooms. it is very difficult to follow all/most of them - provider teams work on all code layers, so there is a need to be in several rooms.

#12

Slack is certainly very good, but unless you have a paid-for corporate account you can only search through the most recent 10K messages (which in an active chat room soon rolls over). One of the nice things about Gitter is being able to search through old messages.

FWIW the various teams that I interact with use IRC, Gitter, Slack, Telegram, Mattermost and Rocket.Chat, and of them all I’d say that Telegram was the best UX for desktop and iOS app. It’s also in the process of being open sourced (https://telegram.org/faq#q-why-not-open-source-everything).

pemcg


#13

Slack is a memory hog.

I’d also propose to stay on Gitter and not switch just because is more new and shiny and has been advertised on billboards.


#14

as a new comer - I fully agree - it’s so easy to miss out on conversation, tracking 10 rooms+ has negative impact on my usage of chat.

I personally would be happy with just users and developer channels, when things get too noise - consider switching to async mail thread (here) or setup a temp room.


#15

+1 for all those considerations, and I’d add that (for me at least) notifications are extremely inconsistent on the mobile gitter apps, which kinda kills the point imho.

If I had to choose, I’d prefer IRC. It’s simple, it’s everywhere, pretty much everyone knows how to use it, it’s not hard to implement a bouncer/notifications if necessary, and there’s the Matrix gateway for more advanced chat rooms.

Why not Slack, imho:

  • Client uses too many resources, cross-platform support is inconsistent (there was no native linux client last I checked).
  • It is not opensource.
  • IRC gateway is bad (not as bad as gitter’s, at least it shows pending notifications when you sign in, but bad nevertheless

#16

IMO the gitter technology is decent enough. For me, the two important things are:

  1. Persistent Messages: As a global team working different hours it is important to see what was discussed earlier (and even if you were on PTO).
  2. Nice looking inline code fragments. Sharing code fragments should be easy and format nicely – so that it is easily understood.

So my choice would be to stay with what we have and limit the number of channels to something a bit more digestible. The landscape will most likely change this anyway, so let’s re-evaluate next year.

– Mike


#17

My biggest problem with Gitter is searchability. With plain old IRC it is no problem to grep all the channels with a single grep or ag command. Also no web interface is faster than ag --color -A 4 -B 3 | less -R.

Also I am never able to quickly find a particular person. Cannot search in the list of channels or don’t know how.

Gitter is slow to work with or I have never learned to use it effectively.

Should we ever move somewhere, I’d love the new thing to be easily searchable.


#18

Oh yes, you are correct, I forgot about that one:

  1. Searchability

#19
  1. Markdown support (ideally github-flavored markdown)
  2. Support for editing messages (most of my messages have a lot of typos, and I love gitter for letting me fix them)

#20

For those who use IRC…have you used gitter’s IRC bridge? https://irc.gitter.im/

You can point your IRC client to there and the rooms appear as regular rooms in IRC, so it’s one less client for you. I set it up a long time ago to ensure it works, and it does, but don’t use it personally. I also put together a POC of having the miq-bot comment to Gitter via the IRC bridge and that worked as well.