Zulip - powerful open source group chat

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Zulip - Python group chat appZulip is an open source group chat app recently released under the Apache license by Dropbox. It was quietly acquired over a year ago from the San Francisco-based startup. Zulip was founded by several ex-Oracle employees and was still in private beta phase at the time of the acquisition. Now Dropbox launched the project as it was intended to be - a workplace chat solution for desktop and mobile that allows sharing private and public messages. This projects uses Django, Python, JavaScript, and PostgreSQL database.

Naturally, as a standalone group chat, Zulip has a lot of competition. But its developers tried to gather the best and most important features into one simple app. For example, threaded conversations keep your communication in order and easily navigate through the sea of information. Streams and topics decrease deviation from the main theme and help to concentrate on the customer’s project.

Zulip features

  • One-on-one and group private conversations - you can exchange private messages with one or more teammates.
  • Groups - manage your audience and privacy by sending messages to particular group members or creating invite-only streams.
  • Threaded group conversations and topics.
  • Persistence - messages sent to offline users will be delivered to their recipients as soon as they come online.
  • Team presence - view online status of your teammates.
  • History - all message history is stored, so even new participants can access old threads.
  • Gmail-style search - powerful full-history search through conversation text, people, and threads with advanced search operators.
  • Inline preview - preview support of images, videos, and tweets in the conversation window; just insert link to a content and an inline preview will be generated automatically.
  • Email summary - while users are logged out, Zulip will send an email with the summary of important missed messages.
  • Drag-and-drop file uploads, image pasting.
  • @-notifications - @-notify separate people or make announcements for @all or @everyone in a stream.
  • Configurable desktop and/or audible notifications.
  • Work with code - multi-line code and automatic syntax highlighting simplify code discussion.
  • Lightweight built-in markup - use nice and quick formatting, including lists, clickable links, etc.
  • Message editing - already sent message can be edited if there is a mistake or typo.
  • Hotkeys - configurable keyboard shortcuts provide efficiency and speed in communication.
  • Emoji - simple yet comprehensive emoticons enliven conversations.
  • Starred messages - mark important messages with stars to highlight them in the stream.
  • Integrations - various external services (Asana, Basecamp, Github, Zendesk, Jenkins, Nagios, Trac, etc.) can be integrated, so that users will receive alerts and updates from the relevant tools.
  • RESTful API and a set of Python bindings - developers will be able to create new integrations with services and customize both incoming and outcoming notifications.

In order to use Zulip you will have to install an instance of Zulip server. At the moment it supports only Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty and has to be the only process running. But after server setup it is easy for your team to either use a Zulip tab in the browser, or to install a Zulip client for a preferred platform. Zulip desktop app provides rich desktop notifications and seamlessly assists your workflow. Mac and Windows clients are already available, Linux binaries are well on their way. There are also mobile apps for iOS and Android that can be downloaded from App Store and Google Play Market.

Due to the extensive Zulip integrations, you can always have up-to-date information on code changes, test results, issue tickets, new tasks, and much more. Zulip categorizes automated notifications and allows you to review them in the most efficient ways. There are at least 30 integrations available, and users can also propose a service that they would like to add.

Zulip has a set of features specifically targeted at technical topics and code discussion. Moreover, it is fully open source and community can always add functionality that is missing. You can find more information on the Zulip website. The client and server code is available on GitHub. The clients for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android can be downloaded here.

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