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Tag: announcement

Announcing Mattermost Integration

By Andrei Soroker

Mattermost is a open source team chat service that’s compatible with Slack’s API and is trivial to self-host.

I’m happy to announce that Sameroom now integrates with Mattermost, which enables Mattermost users to share channels not only with 20+ other services, but also with channels in other Mattermost instances.

Below is a copy of the announcement post I guest-wrote on the official Mattermost blog.


My name is Andrei—I run Sameroom, where we make chat interoperability easy. I’m excited to announce the integration of Mattermost with Sameroom.io, allowing users of the open-source Slack alternative to connect to 21 different messengers, including Slack, Skype, and HipChat.

Let’s take a step back for a brief survey of the current business chat landscape—I’ll show why cross-platform and cross-instance interoperability is an important stepping stone in making chat a viable model for external communication.

Team chat has long been the internal collaboration approach of choice for technical teams. Traditionally, these teams have been small, closely-knit units within large organizations. Since corporate IT rarely, if ever, offered team chat as approved technology, each unit chose its own platform and used it under the radar.

After decades of quiet, the word got out. The number of team chat solutions mushroomed, seemingly overnight. VC and corporate investment in the space jumped from virtually zero to billions. The New York Times and The Economist announced the end of email.

Small, closely-knit teams, accustomed to email for anything external, began getting invites to other units’ collaboration solutions. There was excitement—they were right all along!—but also a feeling of the implacable undoing of everything that was right in the world.

Unlike email servers, various team chat services, and even isolated instances of the same type of service, generally don’t know how to work together—there is no “universal ether”, a protocol similar to SMTP, for chat. XMPP was a solid attempt at one, but it didn’t work out.

Lack of cross-team and cross-platform interoperability results in two fundamental problems. The first problem has to do with compliance—most corporate policies require all company-related communication to be retained on company-owned systems. Therefore, for every “guest access” scenario, one of the sides invariably violates its corporate policy.

The second problem is account creep—if, for every external project, every person in a tightly-knit team has to create and maintain another account that has to be monitored on desktop and mobile, it’s easy to see that this approach doesn’t scale.

We built Sameroom to fix these two problems. Sameroom makes it easy to create real-time, 2-way bridges (we call them “tubes”) between chatrooms belonging to different environments.

A tube connects two rooms or channels into a virtual “same room”. Tubes can be arranged in an arbitrary topology. Each room retains its own copy of chat history, making chat-based cross-company communication compliant.

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Fig 1. Six chatrooms, all connected into a virtual “same room”.

With Sameroom, account creep doesn’t happen at all: For every external project, a team can designate a channel shared with a channel in the service used by the other party.

Over the past few months, we’ve heard a steadily increasing choir of requests for an integration with Mattermost. Today, we’re happy to announce its general availability.

The integration is full-featured, and is actually superior to Slack’s in one important way: Files appear to be posted from the actual author, not “sameroom”.

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Fig 2. Files shared in Slack come from the “sameroom”, with actual author’s name appearing in a comment.

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Fig 3. Files shared in Mattermost come from the actual author

In addition to cross-platform integrations, Sameroom makes it easy to share channels between different Mattermost instances—as Mattermost grows in popularity, it’s safe to assume there will be an increased need in Mattermost-to-Mattermost connectivity.

To get started with the Sameroom Mattermost integration, follow this URL: https://sameroom.io/integrations/mattermost-integrations.

Announcing GroupMe Integration

By Andrei Soroker

Today we’re happy to announce support for GroupMe as a part of our new set of BridgeBot integrations.

With this integration, it’s easy to sync GroupMe groups with groups/channels/rooms in other collaboration systems (Sameroom supports over 20!).

Connecting to Skype

Let’s take a look at connecting a GroupMe group to a group in Skype.

  1. Select your GroupMe group
  2. Type -sameroom open in your GroupMe group. (Wait for the BridgeBot to respond with a code.)
  3. Add skype-bot@sameroom.io to your Skype contacts
  4. Invite Sameroom Bot to your Skype group
  5. Type -sameroom connect <code>, with code from step 3 above.

This will create a 2-way, real-time Tube between the two groups. For more info, post -sameroom help in either group.

Connecting to Slack

Slack is an example of a service without a BridgeBot: You’ll have to add your Slack account to Sameroom (part of step 3, below).

  1. Select your GroupMe group
  2. Type -sameroom portal (Wait for the BridgeBot to respond with a Portal URL.)
  3. Navigate to the Portal URL and follow instructions.

If you have any questions, please contact us or send us a tweet.

Introducing BridgeBots

By Andrei Soroker

Over time, we realized that more often than not, we suggest that our users create special “bot” (or, in other word, “relay”) accounts for Sameroom integrations.

The main reason for this tends to be user experience. With the exception of Slack, Fleep, and Flowdock, none of the services we support offer a way to safely “impersonate” a user, leading to confusion.

While we can’t fix this situation by ourselves—we’ll need some help from the chat services to expand their APIs—with some systems we can remove the need for creating new “relay” accounts.

All the messaging platforms with a global user directory1 will eventually get special Sameroom BridgeBots that you can invite to rooms or channels and create connections (Tubes) to other systems through -sameroom open or -sameroom portal commands. As a bonus, Tubes between BridgeBots will be on us—free as in beer.

Today, we’re announcing the first three BridgeBots: for Skype, GroupeMe, and Telegram. (These bots use the very impressive Microsoft Bot Framework.)

To create a Tube between BridgeBots, create or join groups in Skype, GroupMe, or Telegram and invite the BridgeBots:

Skype

Add skype-bot@sameroom.io to contacts, then invite Sameroom Bot to your Skype group

GroupMe

Invite sameroom

Telegram

Invite sameroom_bot

Then, type -sameroom open in one group, wait for the BridgeBot to respond with a code, and copy that code.

In the other group, type -sameroom connect <paste code>.

To create a Tube between a BridgeBot and some other system (Slack or HipChat), invite a BridgeBot, type -sameroom portal, wait for the BridgeBot to respond with a Portal URL, click on the URL and follow instructions.


1 IRC networks (e.g. Freenode), GroupMe, Skype, Hangouts, Twitter, iMeet, Telegram, Gitter, Fleep, Spark.

Google Authentication Update

By Andrei Soroker

Since Google Hangouts has absolutely no developer APIs, the authentication loophole used in the Sameroom Hangouts integration has always been a bit of a gamble.

Google finally killed the loophole a couple of weeks ago, preventing new users from signing into Sameroom with Hangouts, but leaving existing integrations intact.

(Aside from the small problem of not having an API, Hangouts has been one of the most reliable providers Sameroom supports: there have been virtually no outages in over a year of operation.)

Today we’re releasing a “fix” for our authentication problem by asking for your Google password.

For this to work, enable two-factor verification for your Google account—but not Google Prompt: Use the Google Authenticator method or SMS.

If you’re using Google Apps, an admin has to enable two-step verification for your domain.

Once you authenticate on Sameroom, Google will send you an email similar to this one:

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This is expected.

If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Introducing Yammer Integration

By Andrei Soroker

Today marks the arrival of the Sameroom Yammer integration. (!)

(Fast-forward to instructions.)

As with most things Yammer, it's not particularly clear what this really means, so let me explain.

Why would you want to connect Yammer with Lync (Skype for Business), regular Skype, Slack, HipChat, HipChat Server, Salesforce Chatter, Cisco Spark, Cisco Jabber, or other collaboration platforms?

In a word, because of entropy (increasing, obviously).

Let's consider the process of a mid-sized company adopting Microsoft Office 365.

On Monday, everyone starts using email with Microsoft Outlook.

On Tuesday, a subset of employees discover Outlook Groups—one place for team communications and sharing on mobile, on the web, and on the desktop—and start using that.

On Wednesday, IT conducts a Microsoft Skype for Business training session, and some folks in accounts and marketing begin using Skype for Business for meetings and messaging.

On Thursday, account executives ask IT how to migrate existing Microsoft Skype groups with customers to Skype for Business, and, upon learning the answer (“you can’t”), double down on their use of regular, not-for-business, Skype.

Later on Thursday, summer interns tasked with field research realize they need something that works well on mobile and start a tried-and-true Microsoft GroupMe group.

On Friday, there’s an all-hands manadatory Microsoft Yammer training, resulting in a handful of new fans—particularly among executives—excited about the faster, smarter way to connect and collaborate across the company.

On Saturday, there’s a multi-hour service outage that sends ops and development teams scrambling to organize a recovery task force while stuck on playgrounds, boats, road bicycles, and parents-in-law’s back yards. The outage finally gets resolved with the help of group SMS.

Later that day, the engineering manager creates a HipChat team, hooks up integrations to GitLab and JIRA and send invites to the entire engineering department.

On Sunday, the ops manager returns from an off-the-grid hike in the Stanislaus National Forest and, upon learning the details of Saturday’s meltdown, creates a Slack team and requires all ops people to use it for all communication.

The sales team doesn’t notice any of it: they swear by Salesforce Chatter to connect, engage, and motivate employees—ones with a Salesforce license that is—to work efficiently across the organization regardless of role or location.

The resulting fragmentation across collaboration systems is almost impossible to undo and will continue to increase and accelerate as the company grows, new tools emerge, and teams become more specialized.

If the rumors don’t disappoint, Microsoft Skype Teams will soon become available as an alternative to HipChat and Slack—to the delight of those aiming to keep their company fragmented primarily across Microsoft’s stack.

Back to our mid-sized Office 365 company: we fast forward to the next executive meeting and overhear high praise for Yammer as a platform and bewildered disappointment at low adoption. Why won’t they all just use Yammer?

The executives mostly ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, but one of them suggests “using one of those integration services, like I T F T, or whatever it’s called, to cross-connect all the stuff we use around the company to Yammer.”

Brilliant! That’s exactly why you’d use the Sameroom Yammer integration. To empower teams to use whatever works best for them, while avoiding the immurement of resulting organizational memory that should— no, must!—be available to the entire company.

Instructions

The Sameroom Yammer integration can be configured to sync all top-level messages and files (but not comments) between a Yammer group and a room or channel in another collaboration platform.

It’s also possible to 2-way sync all comments in a Yammer post with a room or channel in another platform. This option is only available to users of Sameroom Enterprise, through -sameroom open/connect or -sameroom portal commands.

  1. We recommend creating a new Yammer user for the integration (with a name like Relay, or similar) and adding this special account to Sameroom on the Accounts page. If your Yammer group is private, invite the Relay account.

  2. Next, authenticate with a chat account you’d like connect with Yammer on the same Accounts page.

  3. On the Open a Tube page, select your Yammer account in Step 1 and your Yammer group in Step 2, for Side A. For Side B, select the room or channel in the other platform.

Below is a video of the integration in an Enterprise environment, where a Tube is created with open/connect commands. (To set up your own Enterprise environment, please fill out form 27B/6.)