Our team has been using HipChat forever. Since before Slack was cool. Yesterday I got an email from Atlassian (who run HipChat).
New: Request your next Uber in HipChat!
I use HipChat every day. I use Uber at least once a month. I am never going to order an Uber car through Hipchat. I’ll probably stick to doing that on … Uber.
My reaction to the email? Moan on Twitter of course. That’s what Twitter is for. It’s the moaning app.
Hah. Clever me. Sometimes you forget that Twitter is public, though. And that the product manager for HipChat might see your tweet since they’re probably monitoring social media. And indeed he did.
All of the sudden I had become that annoying semi-anonymous guy who randonly trashes a product because he isn’t into ordering Ubers from chatrooms. The feature is the result of a Hackathon and an apparently very cool API. That’s great.
So to make up for my moaning I thought I’d be constructive and put together a list of how HipChat can actually prevent our team from eventually leaving to use Slack instead.
1. Match Slack’s most basic features like starring (bookmarking) a particular line. When someone explains in our dev channel how they did some magic in the statistical package Pandas, other devs need to be able to look that up quickly.
2. Keep tweaking the design to keep it current. Slack looks better than HipChat. Try inserting a quote or code snippet into HipChat vs. Slack. HipChat looks a little 2008. And why not stick a thumbnail of users next to what they say. That’s cute.
3. HipChat should be a platform. I’m not just talking about an API but awesome integrations built by Atlassian or the community that do more than just post from the internet to HipChat channels. Lots of applications are pushing notifications into our channels, but we can’t pull anything. If I type (stock:amzn) I want to know what Amazon’s stock price is. If I type (datasmoothie:reports) I want a reply with how many reports our users have generated.
4. Concentrate on the chat experience. HipChat should be obsessed about the chat experience. Aside from look and feel and sci-fi dreams of pulling data into HipChat, what can it do to improve chat? When I post a link to a Dropbox screenshot, don’t just show me a broken image link. Poll a few times and update it once it’s available. Play a different sound according to what user mentioned me in a room. Allow custom mention icons that could also play a sound. Typing @alarm could play an emergency sound and ping everyone. “@alarm We have a live show-stopping bug!”
If the new API that was the backbone behind the Uber feature will start fostering more innovation on HipChat as a platform, maybe they’ll come up with something compelling enough for us to stay. Good luck to them. And hell, maybe everyone will start ordering Ubers on HipChat. What do I know?