First look on Gitter, the chat for GitHub
GitHub has definitly become the #1 platform for git-based public repositories on the planet, no question. The site offers excellent possibilities to navigate and organize code, and also some basic functionalities to keep in contact with your team or your contributors, but especially direct or tree-based team-communication can be difficult on GitHub.
Gitter wants to improve this by offering a (currently totally free) hosted “chat”-service for your (or other) GitHub repositories. It’s extremely easy to “install”, just log into your account, authorize via your GitHub account (one click) and chose a repo: This can be any private or public repository of your account or any (?) public repo on GitHub. That’s it. What you get is a long-term chat (that saves all messages) where everybody with a Gitter account can join, have a look at the screenshot:
Some promotion screenshots, showing the nice integration of code and issues into the chat:
Looks nice and smooth! But as the service is very fresh and still in beta mode, there are some downsides too:
- Gitter is extremely easy to “set up” as it is a hosted service.
- Gitter is free.
- Gitter could solve the 100s-of-comments problem on GitHub. Popular repos have large and unreadable linear issue comment blocks.
- Gitter offers private chats with single persons (very useful to share security-relevant stuff)
- Excellent integration into your GitHub code and your GitHub issues (see the promo screenshots)
- The service looks promising, with some more features it might be a very useful application
- Currently there is only one linear chat per repo. This makes it quite annoying to discuss about issue #17 and bug XYZ at the same time. This is indeed a major problem, I really hope the Gitter devs will provide a per-issue-chat in the future.
- Potential con: It is not possible to block people. Unfortunatly a lot of people use the GitHub issue thing to post their weird support requests a la “the script does not work please help”. People like them will thankfully use the chat to annoy the developers. Here we definitly need chat-invitations or block-a-user features.
- Nobody has a Gitter account yet: Even the biggest repos in the world have “dead” Gitter channels. I think a lot of people would use such a chat, but Gitter is in beta mode and only gives away account for people on the waiting list. This will hopefully change when the service goes public.
Definitly something every GitHub user should try out. Request a beta account on: gitter.im now.