TL;DR: Check out gitter.im
We love chat. We've been using chat in various forms since the 90's. IRC, done it. ICQ, been there. Skype, worked there. So much chat, yet still we couldn't help feeling an itch that wouldn't scratch.
We mostly talk about software. Why didn't our chat product understand us?
Gitter is chat built by people who make software for people who make software. It's deeply integrated with GitHub, it knows your team, understands your code and tracks your issues.
After 9 short weeks of development and in the lean spirit of failing fast and learning like hell, we're making Gitter open to everyone.
We'd love if you gave it a go and let us know how you get along.
How does it work?
Gitter sits on top of GitHub allowing you to create chat rooms for your organisations and your repositories.
Like GitHub, you can create chat rooms for public repositories. These are open to everyone. Organisation chat rooms are only open to organisation members, as are private repo chat rooms.
Soon we'll allow you to create custom chat rooms that don't directly match data in GitHub. We're also considering chat rooms for GitHub Teams and Issues.
So what makes it special
Gitter includes a number of unique features designed primarily for people who make software.
Markdown support in chat
Ever wanted to talk about a little piece of code in chat and it looks completely aweful?
That's exactly how a piece of code looks like in Gitter. We support all markdown, so you can make your messages look just the way you want them to. With emoji to boot.
If you're in a repo chat room and you type # you'll get a typeahead list of that repo's issues. In chat, we'll fetch metadata around the issue, show it's status and a synposis of the issue so you don't need to jump out to another window to get the gist of what's being said.
We will shortly be extending this by allowing you to type owner/repo#number in any chat room and getting the same information.
Like us, you probably use other bits of software and services in your development environment. Those systems can often provide valuable context to conversations.
We support activity feed integrations with GitHub, Jenkins, Travis, Trello and Sprintly.
You don't need to rebuild any sort of contact list. By integrating with your organisations and repositories and the people involved with them, you can easily start chatting without having to create a whole new address book or set of permissions. We just inherit exactly what's in GitHub, job done.
A better chat
Unlike regular IRC, the conversation happens in the cloud. This means that once a message is read once, it's read everywhere, no synchronisation issues. This also means you've got infinite chat history available on any device. This data is all being indexed and we'll soon allow you to search this.
We're moving fast and shipping often. Right now we're working on IRC integration, so you can join Gitter conversations from your favourite IRC client. This will allow for easy Hubot integration too!
There's an iOS app in the mix to compliment our existing OSX app and a lot more in the pipeline.