Exactly two weeks ago we posted a textbook lean startup product page thing on HackerNews. The response was pretty sweet, we had thousands of people letting us know they were interested in a chat product built around GitHub. Even in meatspace around Silicon Roundabout people were excited about the concept.
10 days of solid coding later and today we are launching our limited beta.
We still have a bunch of features to build and some adjustments to make, but rather than doing that in a bubble we wanted to put something out there and get some feedback to help us make future product decisions. Also to see if people can break things, after just 10 days we're sure there's some broken things lying around.
How the limited beta works
Normally, anybody who's on Gitter can create chat rooms and invite people. During our beta, only a limited number of people will be able to create chats. By sharing the chat anyone can join so you won't be sitting around talking to yourself, unless you want to.
Joiners can participate in the chat, but won't be able to create new chats themselves until they are put on the limited beta list. We will add people to this list every day using a complex algorithym commonly known as FIFO. We may accept kind words and bribes to modify this complex formula.
Features at launch
You can create chats based on an organisation in GitHub. Anyone who's a member of your org can join the chat, just visit the url.
You can also create chats based on repositories. At the moment this is only available for public repositories and anyone can join these chats (again, URL). It's a bit like IRC, only with cloud-based chat history and other awesome features.
Other awesome features include, but are not limited to:
As long as you have admin permission to a repo, you can automatically create a GitHub webhook. This will notify you when someone pushes, creates issues and other such things that you can configure.
We also support Travis and Jenkins hooks too and will continue to add more. Feel free to let us know what sort of integrations you'd like to see.
This is where things start to get fairly awesome. If you're in a repository chat, start typing # and some numbers and we'll show you matching issues in the repo. When you send the chat message, this will link to the issue so people can easily reference. We'll make this feature much better in the coming weeks by showing more information about the issue inside of Gitter rather than having to open a browser tab.
@mentions and notifications
We currently use HTML5 notifications. When you get a new message in a chat and have Gitter open in a tab somewhere amongst the rest of the internets, you'll see a desktop notification for that message.
In some chats, this might be annoying for every message. You can click on the cog icon near the top right of the screen and change this to notify you only when you get @mentioned, or not at all. This applies per chat rather than globally at the moment.
Naturally, if you type @ in a message, you'll see a list of people in the chat, etc... you know what you're doing.
Alongside various tweaks and adjustments, we'll be bringing out the following:
- Chats for private repositorites
- Channels. These are chats that don't neccessarily match an object in GitHub.
- More awesome emoticons and gifs
- A Mac Desktop app
- Mobile webb support
- Mobile apps
- Hubot integration
- Chat commands
- Full text search
So, big plans. Lots to do! You can take a look at our Trello board and vote for these things.
Any comments, you can hit us up on multiple places on the internets.
We'll also open up a public room on Gitter soon so you can chat with us.
You're all awesome
Finally, thanks so much to everyone who helped make this happen. We couldn't have shipped this without your enthusiasm.
And now, the link
In case you didn't have it already.
Don't forget, only some users can create chats so you may not be able to use the product quite yet. We'll push as hard as we can to all people to this list every day.
You'll receive an email from us when you've been added to this list, so keep an eye out on your Inbox and, if you're a Gmail user, your Promotions tab.