How we changed the paid Slack to the open source Rocket.Chat

    We recently wrote about how we organize work with remote employees, and mentioned the well-known Slack messenger to everyone. Almost immediately after the publication of the article, we found it is still not a very perfect analogue, which promises to be the best among working messengers in the next couple of years. Today we’ll explain why we think so.


    Our relationship with messengers is complicated. At first, we all talked on Skype - it was inconvenient (especially from a mobile), cumbersome and, frankly, very buggy. Despite these shortcomings, we spent more than 3 years on Skype, after which we thought about changing the platform - the number of employees grew, personal contacts began to mix with workers, and Skype did not become more stable.

    We immediately chose Slack: then they wrote a lot about him, he seemed convenient and easily customizable to our needs. The interface is intuitive, there is nothing superfluous, bugs popped up occasionally. The only, but very fat minus is the very high price of storing history and files (when we compared the prices, the cost of adding one user was $ 8). Yes, if we used Slack to 100%, paying would not be a problem, but in our case we needed, in fact, the usual convenient messenger.

    Nevertheless, we used it for a long time - about a year. With a constant increase in the number of employees, the volume of correspondence is growing exponentially, and the limitations of the free version - 10 thousand messages - are becoming more critical: when communicating with 30 employees, the story disappears after 5-6 days, and each time you save important information somewhere in separate notes are simply unrealistic. At the same time, the cost of the paid version will constantly increase in proportion to the growing number of employees.

    We again thought about changing the platform. The global testing began: we went through all the possible options, tried at least 20 different applications. Some installed and immediately removed, realizing that they were not suitable, others tested for a week. Among them - Stride , Flock, Hangouts, Yandex.Yamb , even Telegram. Some have a crooked interface, others have a bug on a bug, others were paid and, like Slack, did not offer an ideal solution for us. Telegram did not fit due to the fact that many employees already used it, and it was inconvenient to interfere with personal and work correspondence - everything was simply lost in one continuous stream.

    We selected messengers according to our own criteria up to the presence of reactions to messages (employees are already used to them in Slaka, and they also significantly speed up communication) and the usual design, so what was important to us may be completely unprincipled for others . Here, perhaps, it’s worth choosing first according to external criteria, whether you need an open-source project or not, what functions are needed first of all, whether the design is convenient, and then test the platform at work and choose one or another solution based on personal experience.

    And more recently, we found, it seems, the optimal messenger - Rocket.Chat. The history of its implementation is interesting: back in November 2017, when we first saw it in the list of Slack analogues, the Rocket was completely raw and unusable, we did not even consider it as a working option. And by January 2018, the developers rolled out an update in which a lot of bugs were fixed, they changed the design, they added a lot of cool chips like information about who read the message from the chat. In general, then we paid close attention to him and started testing.

    This is how the window with information about reading the message

    looks : And this is how the mobile client looks:

    What attracted us:

    1. Rocket.Chat is an open source project. You can fix bugs, contribute, monitor development;
    2. If you install Rocket.Chat on your server, you can, firstly, use it for free, and secondly, fully adapt it to your needs. But the paid version is quite inexpensive, Rocket.Chat’s “flat” tariffing, unlike Slack and its analogues, is $ 50 per month with the number of employees not more than 500. We will grow to such a number of employees for a long time;
    3. Rocket integrates with many applications you need to work with, for example, for video conferencing;
    4. The project is developing very quickly, so we can put up with the existing shortcomings - we know that they will be quickly fixed.

    The screenshot shows system information:

    Actually, of the shortcomings is a large number of bugs, which, however, are not critical to work. With each application update, there are fewer of them, in addition, we installed it on our server, and we have more flexibility.

    After a week of open testing by all the puzzle staff, we decided to finally dwell on it. By the way, all preserved (last) correspondence from Slack was transferred to our server.

    If you are looking for a working application for communication within the team, we highly recommend paying attention to Rocket.Chat. Do not repeat our mistakes, do not waste time on crooked messengers! And write in the comments which platform you use - maybe we missed something.

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