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Gitter is an open source instant messaging and chat room system for developers and users of GitHub repositories. Gitter is provided as software-as-a-service, with a free option providing all basic features and the ability to create a single private chat room, and paid subscription options for individuals and organisations, which allows them to create arbitrary numbers of private chat rooms.

Gitter
Gitter logo.png
Gitter2017.png
Developer(s) Troupe Technology Ltd.
Written in JavaScript[1]
Platform Web, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux
Type Instant messaging
License MIT License
Website gitter.im

Individual chat rooms can be created for individual git repositories on GitHub. Chatroom privacy follows the privacy settings of the associated GitHub repository: thus, a chatroom for a private (i.e. members-only) GitHub repository is also private to those with access to the repository. A graphical badge linking to the chat room can then be placed in the git repository's README file, bringing it to the attention of all users and developers of the project. Users can chat in the chat rooms, or access private chat rooms for repositories they have access to, by logging into Gitter via GitHub[2] (which does not involve sharing the user's GitHub password with Gitter).

Gitter is similar to IRC[3] and Slack. Unlike IRC, and like Slack, it automatically logs all messages in the cloud.[2][4]

Contents

FeaturesEdit

Gitter supports:

  • Notifications,[2] which are batched up on mobile devices to avoid annoyance[4]
  • Inline media files[2]
  • Viewing and subscribing to ("starring") multiple chat rooms in one web browser tab
  • Linking to individual files in the linked git repository[3]
  • Linking to GitHub issues (by typing # and then the issue number) in the linked git repository, with hovercards showing the details of the issue[4]
  • GitHub-flavored Markdown in chat messages[2]
  • Online status for users
  • User hovercards, based on their GitHub profiles and statistics (number of GitHub followers, etc.)
  • Browsable and searchable[4] message archives, grouped by month
  • Connection from IRC clients[5]

Integrations with non-GitHub sites and applicationsEdit

Gitter integrates with Trello,[4] Jenkins, Travis CI, Heroku, Sentry, Bitbucket, HuBoard, Logentries, Pagerduty, Sprintly, and Riot.im.

AppsEdit

Official Gitter apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android are available.[6]

Advantages and disadvantagesEdit

Like other chat technologies, Gitter allows users and developers to instant message (both users with developers, and developers with each other).[7] Because of its integration with Github authentication and its web-based chat client, it is easy for developers who use GitHub to create or join a chat room[8] without needing to install any extra software, or create another username/password pair to remember.

Pervasive loggingEdit

The fact that messages posted to Gitter chat rooms are preserved indefinitely in chat room logs means that all users can see all messages in a chat room going back to when the chat room was created, which is useful for finding previous discussions and solutions to problems.

However, like logged IRC channels, Gitter has a tradeoff of greater convenience against lower privacy relative to unlogged IRC channels: messages in a permanently logged chatroom are by definition not ephemeral and may cause embarrassment for users who later regret making ill-considered offhand comments in a chatroom.

HistoryEdit

Gitter was created by some developers who were initially trying to create a generic web-based chat product, but then wrote extra code to hook their chat application up to GitHub to meet their own needs, and realised that they could turn the combined product into a viable specialist product in its own right.[4]

Gitter came out of beta in 2014. During the beta period, Gitter delivered 1.8 million chat messages.[2]

On March 15, 2017, GitLab announced the acquisition of Gitter. Included in the announcement was the stated intent that Gitter would continue as a standalone project. Additionally, GitLab announced that the code would become open source under an MIT License no later than June 2017.[9]

ImplementationEdit

The Gitter web application is implemented entirely in JavaScript, with the back end being implemented on Node.js.[1] The source code to the web application was formerly proprietary (it was open-sourced in June 2017), although Gitter had made numerous auxiliary projects available as open-source software, such as an IRC bridge for power users who prefer using IRC client applications (and their extra features) to converse in the Gitter chat rooms.[5]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "What's Gitter written in?". Gitter Zendesk. Gitter Support. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Chandler, Jeff (25 August 2014). "Gitter: A New Communication Service For GitHub Projects". WP Tavern. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Rexecker, Kim (16 November 2013). "Gitter: A chat for GitHub users". t3n.de (in German). Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Boyd, Stowe (3 Jan 2014). "Gitter is a GitHub-based chat tool for developers". GigaOm Research. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "IRC bridge". GitHub. Gitter. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "Gitter Apps". Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  7. ^ Reyes, Juliana (16 February 2015). "These devs delved into the world of Backbone.js and were blown away by what they found". Technical.ly Philly. Technically Media. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Andrieu, Mickaël (16 April 2015). "How and why BackBee CMS went open source". OpenSource.com. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  9. ^ "Gitter is joining the GitLab team". GitLab. Retrieved 2017-03-15.