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Tag: federation

Announcing Integration with IRCCloud

By @abs

If you’re in the market for an IRC-based collaboration system to keep your team connected in real time, IRCCloud for teams is your poison.

With IRCCloud for teams, your team—for $5/member/month—gets a private, cloud-based IRC server with web and mobile access, unlimited history access, and premium customer support (among other things).

But, as it happens in 2016, even after setting up your bespoke, cozy, ascetic collaboration hub with IRCCloud, you’ll likely find yourself and your teammates switching around like crazy between

  • A ton of Slack teams
  • Gitter
  • Skype
  • Hangouts
  • Two HipChat teams
  • That one Twitter DM group, whatever it’s called

Our new IRCCloud integration lets you not only create real-time, 2-way "tubes" between your team channels and rooms/channels in other services, but also create Portals to your team channels, which you can use to let anyone—a partner, customer, or vendor—to connect from their team chat, simply by navigating to a URL.

Furthermore, and somewhat unexpectedly, Sameroom brings federation to IRCCloud for teams, enabling two companies, on two different IRCCloud teams, to share a channel—safely, securely, and in a way that makes lawyers happy (because both parties retain history).

"Only two?"—I hear you sighing and shaking your head in disappointment. That was just a figure of speech! You can federate between any number of companies.

(To give it a try, start here.)

HipChat Federation

By Andrei Soroker

Atlassian’s HipChat, the “team chat that's actually built for business”, has a problem.

On HipChat’s Suggestions & Ideas portal, this problem is called “Let me be a member of and sign in to multiple accounts at once“. It’s the #1 feature request and has been for years. With 40% more votes than the #2 request, it’s as loud a cry for help as the people of the internet have ever seen.

Infuriatingly, HipChat marked this feature as “partially implemented” after rolling out the ability to be logged into multiple HipChat teams at once, with a unique user account per team—not even close to what the actual request is about.

This partial implementation was announced with so much aplomb and feel-good assurance that we couldn't believe our eyes and decided to confirm with HipChat that the crux of the issue indeed remains to be completely, comprehensively unsolved:

So, what are the options for a contractor who must work with several HipChat teams at the same time? Empirical evidence shows that email and Skype are popular. This, of course, makes life difficult for both the contractor and the client organization.

Sameroom offers an imperfect, but sensible solution: your client creates a Sameroom Portal to a room designated for communication on your project in their HipChat team, and shares the Portal URL with you. You then connect through the Portal with your own HipChat team. This way, you can connect to many HipChat teams from a single HipChat UI.

If you're working with a company on HipChat and are struggling to configure a reasonable setup for real-time communication, have the company create Portal for you here:

(If there are security concerns, we have published the Sameroom Security Overview that answers some of the most common security questions.)

After you connect your own room to theirs through the Portal, you can choose to pay for the resulting Tube by flipping a switch on the Manage page.

Here's a short video that explains the concept (for Slack, but the flow is nearly identical for HipChat):

If you have any questions, we’re watching our Twitter account like hawks—happy to answer any questions there.

p.s. You don't actually have to use HipChat to work with a team on HipChat. Use whatever chat service you like, even Telegram.

How to Share a Channel Between Slack Teams

by Eric Karjaluoto and Andrei Soroker

Odds are you’re in love with Slack. This new tool is a fantastic way to keep your team on the same page—and cut back on email. Unfortunately, Slack has a limitation: it doesn’t easily connect disparate (e.g. external and intra-company) teams.

For example, in an agency, your team can use Slack to reduce call volume and expedite communication. But, what if the clients you work with have their own Slack, and don’t want to create new accounts? We’ve talked to a number of folks who find such situations a real bother.

Admittedly, this is a notable shortcoming in an otherwise great platform. There are, however, a handful of ways to solve this problem. Curious? Read on:

Option 1: Create a New Slack Team

The most common way to bridge the gap between two teams is to create a new Slack team. This seems like a low-friction solution, and in some ways it is. But, it also comes with a number of challenges and questions.

First off, this approach results in a brand new private chat history with everyone who is also in your main team. This sucks because it adds clutter—and noise.

Similarly, this approach forces you to determine who owns the associated teams, and who pays for them. Worse yet, when you have concurrent conversations in both teams, you’re going to be switching between teams like crazy!

Option 2: Invite the Other Team to Yours as Guests

A variation on this approach is to simply invite the other team to join your Slack as guests. This seems like a sensible approach, but it too has shortcomings. (BTW: If you aren’t paying for Slack, this approach isn’t an option.)

To make this approach work, you have to invite people one-by-one—by entering their email addresses. This is tedious, and a pain in the ass. It’s even worse if the other team is large, because you probably won’t have enough guest accounts available (Slack limits accounts to 5 guests per paying user) to make it viable.

This approach brings problems for your guests, too: In the event that you sever relations with them, all the exchanged data lives (solely) in your Slack. This is sort of unfair. Besides, even something as old-school as email would allow you to run basic forensics on previous correspondence.

Oops—we almost forgot to mention this: If the other team gets busy, they too will be be switching between teams like crazy!

Option 3: Get Your Team Invited

The third option is essentially the same as Option 2, but reversed. You know where we’re heading with this, don’t you? It puts you at risk of losing data. (i.e. If they decide to boot you out, you’ll lose access to the entire dialogue/history.)

All the same—if you need to connect teams in Slack, this is a viable option. Plus, the other party takes on the costs, so perhaps it’s fair that they also get all the data. Personally, though, we’d never go for an agreement like this.

Option 4: Use Sameroom

Sameroom specifically addresses the need to connect teams via chat. It works for Slack users, and also for teams using different services—like Skype, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, HipChat, Campfire, Flowdock, IRC, or Gitter.

The service is largely invisible. You either create the connection yourself, or invite via URL, meaning there’s no need to paste emails. There’s no risk of data loss, as both sides retain the full dialogue history. Additionally Sameroom works with paid and free Slack plans—and team sizes don’t matter.

The downside? Sameroom’s a little weird. You fill in a couple of fields, click a few buttons, and you’re done. For some folks, this is a bit of a mind-bender. They expect more. What they don’t realize is that Sameroom is sort of like plumbing. (Even if you can’t see it, it sure is nice to have.)

Full disclosure: we’re some of the people working on Sameroom. We made a couple of demos for you, here and here.

Option 5: Use Skype (or an Alternative)

Some will decide that connecting different Slack teams is just too unwieldy. They’ll find the team size limitations, cost requirements, and potential loss of data overly constraining. Plus, they won’t want to run additional “plumbing,” like Sameroom, to let their teams mingle.

Fair enough. In these situations, a platform change is in order. In such an instance, we’d recommend looking at a technology like Skype. This service is free, everyone has an account, and most find the service familiar. Sure, Skype doesn’t have all the features Slack boasts, but on a lot of levels it works quite nicely.