We are veterans in the chat group arena. We have been using one form of another since we started Scrapinghub in 2010 and I’ve been personally using corporate group chats since 2004. We started Scrapinghub using our own hosted version of ejabberd, then moved to HipChat in 2013 and we just finished moving to Slack. Thanks to Slack’s migration tools, the process went pretty smoothly. In this post we explain why we moved and why Slack is a better fit for us.
Slack is much better for controlling noise, specially in high volume accounts. You can control notification on a per-channel basis, and even disable notifications entirely for a channel. This was a clear win over HipChat.
Slack search is simply awesome. It is so better than HipChat’s that a comparison sounds absurd. With Slack search you actually find stuff, allowing you to search over all channels & private communications just as easily as searching into a single room.
Slack has a much more visual pleasing UI; avatars are shown alongside messages, and the application as a whole is much more vibrant and colorful. A few things we really like about Slack is you can see a nice summary of your recent mentions and the ability to star things (messages, files and people) for quick access (very useful for todo lists & reminders).
Migrating from HipChat to Slack was a breeze. Slack allows easy importing of logs from HipChat (among other chat services) with a great guide for doing so.
The single-channel guest accounts works better for us because we give those to our clients instead of having to add a new paid users which also have access to all our channels. This allows us to use channels, open to all the company staff by default, which aligns better with our culture of inclusion & open discussion.
Another benefit of Slack is that you can sign into multiple teams simultaneously which got rid of the problem we had before with clients that use HipChat in their own company.
Even though Slack (as opposed to HipChat) does not offer a native Linux app, the Linux experience is miles ahead on Slack using the Chrome desktop app, which works pretty much like a native app.
Update (Sep 30, 2015): Slack released a Linux app last week (currently in beta). It works the same way as the Chrome desktop app. Like all the other desktop app (Mac, Windows) it embed the web app, providing a 100% consistent experience across all platforms.
Slack integration are very well implemented and easy to setup, with a large number of services connecting to it, way above the standard integration you find off the shelf in other services (Twitter, etc). The builtin support for RSS feeds subscription has proven very useful for us, to follow different public things, from Google Alerts in our marketing team to StackOverflow questions by our support team.
We did find some downsides on Slack compared to HipChat, that we outline below:
- lack of away status message. We used this a lot on HipChat (“away for lunch”)
no equivalent for @here. We grew to like and use @here a lot to ping only people connected to a room, and not everyoneSlack has now added the @here command.
- pricing. Slack base price is 4 times more expensive than Hipchat ($8 vs $2 per user) but we ended up saving costs with many customer accounts we no longer needed (thanks to the free single-channel guest accounts). In the end, Slack turned out to be about 2.5 times more expensive for us, but it’s well worth the difference.
And this has been our experience with the HipChat→Slack transition, let us know in the comments if you have any question.