We used Grove.io as an IRC server for our group communications for about a year. It was good… never perfect, but never fully adopted either. Kevin passed around a talk from Velocity called ChatOps: Augmented Reality for Ops. That was all it took for us to re-focus some effort into adopting an asynchronous solution for messaging.
IRC clients for desktops are varied (I used Adium, others used Limechat, etc) and come with different feature sets (inlining images, searching history, etc).
IRC clients for mobile are barely a step above using a BBS from the early 90s. Seriously, they suck. Even worse than sucking, they cost money that could be much better spent on Candy Crush or EA’s latest attempt to cram 40 control combinations from a console game into a touch interface. (I’m sure FIFA 2013 is amazing, but playing a 10 minute long game on a phone is too long for me, and anything below that is too short for soccer).
Enter HipChat. Well, not really. They’ve been around for a while, but we’re just now getting on board.
We said, “We’ll give this a shot and see.” The first night (we signed up very late in the day), we had the usual people poking around and playing with emoji. I downloaded the Android client, and it “just worked.” By the second day, everyone on our team was joined up. As an expirement, that day (our second day of being HipChat instead of IRC), I disconnected from Hangouts. At this point, I was only reachable through HipChat.
The chart below indicates the work differences. The data is made up, but that’s how it felt.
Fast forward to Thursday night (3rd day of HipChat), and we had a server issue. Disks were filling up at a crazy pace (roughly 15x the norm). I was already home, Kevin and Chris were still at the office. Kevin tagged me a in HipChat message in our API room. I pulled out my phone, read the messages and knew to grab my computer.
I looked back through the logs, and was up to date on what was known about the issue. We fixed it. I went to bed, and our servers stayed up throughout the night. Chat worked!
Overall, HipChat costs about the same, and we’re making better use of than IRC (a lot of useful tools are being written into our Hubot).