HipChat [EOL] Review

It has supplanted e-mail in my workflow. The search results are often poor and it is difficult to find "old" things.

What is most valuable?

Real time chat organized into channels with archival and search capabilities was a complete game changer for how I work. HipChat ended up supplanting e-mail in my workflow. With the addition of a custom Bot which interacted through the service using the API, it revolutionized how I provide my expertise to my colleagues.

How has it helped my organization?

The base product of the software as a real time communication tool really helped teams collaborate since we were geographically separated. It made it very easy to interact with remote teams. But the real value was achieved when we hooked up a Bot framework since this allowed all staff to self-serve a wide range of tasks which had originally required either myself of our Operations staff to manually handle tasks. This is the Bot framework we used: https://github.com/skoczen/will.

What needs improvement?

The search is terrible. They keep changing how it's integrated with the desktop client which is bad enough, but the results you get back are often poor and makes it very difficult to find "old" things. You might vaguely remember having a conversation with someone about something, but trying to locate that thread is very difficult.

For how long have I used the solution?

I used the product many hours a day for almost three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We had some stability issues. We were actually evaluating a move from HipChat to Slack at my last job out of frustration related to repeated downtime with the service. Since we were managing so many things through HipChat in our effort to use a "ChatOps" footing for more of our work, when the service was down, it was extremely hard to function. This was happening for hours every other month and it was extremely frustrating. When I found out how cheap HipChat was compared to Slack, I was willing to let it go of this issue.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We had no issues with scalability. We never had more than about 200 users on our set up and things seemed to work well enough excluding the outages with the service, but those weren't related to our use.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support was okay. I felt like it took a long time for issues to get resolved and they seemed to get resolved "invisibly". As an example, I reported an issue with how copy/paste of messages from inside the client broke and the problem eventually got fixed. I think it took two or three client releases so maybe a month or two. After the initial bug report, I never got an update that the fix would be appearing in the client. I just discovered that it was working again one day by accident.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used tools like IRC at previous jobs.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't involved in this aspect of our HipChat installation, but creating an account for our company was pretty straightforward.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's pretty cheap especially when compared to Slack.

What other advice do I have?

It's cheap and it works most of the time. If you're looking at Slack and having sticker shock, HipChat is a perfectly serviceable alternative. If you are already using Atlassian's suite of products, there are all sorts of integrations. However, I was surprised at how poor some of these integrations were considering it's from the same company.

Now that I'm using a similar product (FlowDock), I look back FONDLY on HipChat's broken search. In FlowDock, there's no indexing of private conversations. Another area which annoyed me is notices about new messages to you. I don't know why, but it seems like none of these products (HipChat, FlowDock,Slack, Let's Chat, and Mattermost) seem to differentiate between messages in a channel with are directed to everyone in the channel versus to me directly. I want to know if someone has tried to ask me a question personally versus if the question was directed to everyone on the team. I don’t want to be distracted if it's not directed to me personally. I will catch up with it later. Theoretically, this would be simple to fix, but I don't know enough about the internals of the software to judge whether this is actually true. Something I didn't know I wanted until I used FlowDock was threaded conversations. They took a bit of getting used to, but being able to separate out each topic within the channel is handy. Unfortunately, not everyone remembers to use it so it loses some of its utility.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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