Usable team instant messaging



  • We currently have:

    • Office CommunicatorLyncSkype For Business: It's multi-user chat is badly broken—when you close the window, you leave the chat, without anybody really noticing, and closing it by mistake is rather easy.
    • Cisco Jabber: It does not store any history. None. At all. Pretty useless.
    • samepage.io: It has a team chat and one-on-one chat, but I didn't find a way to create a chat with ad-hoc group. Plus the taskbar icon is broken (I have 4 instances of it in the settings already).
    • Yammer: It comes with the Office365 accounts, but I don't know whether it's actually usable as instant messanger.

    We currently don't have:

    • Skype: There already was a motion to start using this earlier, but it didn't go anywhere.

    See, it all sucks in one way or another. Do you have any idea what to use if we need to coordinate debugging something in more than two people that wouldn't suck?




  • area_pol

    @bulb
    Discord - I used for some time already and it seems competent, can handle big groups as well as ad-hoc groups, there is also voice chat. Disregard the "gamer" branding.
    The problems: server is not self-hosted, Android client is slow to load messages, often fails to show notifications

    Mattermost or riot.im - self-hosted so you control it and don't care when the company goes bankrupt.
    The problem: I have not tried so can't say much.


  • And then the murders began.

    @bulb Sounds like Slack would fit the bill. You have to pay if you want screen sharing - and it only comes in a SAAS variety, which may be a showstopper - but it definitely solves your history and ad-hoc group problems.



  • @bulb said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Yammer: It comes with the Office365 accounts, but I don't know whether it's actually usable as instant messanger.

    look at it as more of a facebook thing but as mentioned if you have an O365 account you should give MS Teams a try. It ties in with the rest of O365 (SharePoint, Outlook, OneNote, ...).


  • kills Dumbledore

    @bulb said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Cisco Jabber: It does not store any history. None. At all. Pretty useless.

    That's not true. It can integrate with Outlook to log there, same way Communicator/Skype does it.



  • @bulb I think Slack is the current leader in this field. Unless you need on-premises servers, then you're just fucked. (HipChat is awful.)



  • @thecpuwizard said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Since you have (apparently) O365, have you checked ou Teams???

    Teams is like Slack, but shittier in every way. Much shittier. Very very shitty. Nothing about it works right, and the stuff that does is annoying. Usability is garbage.

    And, keep in mine, Slack is already shitty in like 20 different ways. Teams somehow lowers the already-ground-level bar.



  • @blakeyrat said in Usable team instant messaging:

    HipChat is awful.

    We use it and I haven't found it to be awful (aside from my previous rant about the linux client not being able to "close to the taskbar"). What about it do you find awful?



  • @thecpuwizard said in Usable team instant messaging:

    @bulb - Since you have (apparently) O365, have you checked ou Teams???

    No, thanks for the tip.

    We started testing it out. Looks almost, but not completely, not integrated with the rest. It shows Skype (For Business) icon next to the teammates who have it, but does not seem to actually forward messages there. Nor to e-mail.

    But if it keeps history in sane manner it should be an improvement.



  • @unperverted-vixen said in Usable team instant messaging:

    comes in a SAAS variety, which may be a showstopper

    We have hosted Office365 and the samepage crap™ is hosted too, so it shouldn't.

    Anyway, I think we'll try the Teams and if it's not too broken, it should fit the bill.



  • @bulb - Because I work with many groups in many organizations, I have one dedicated monitor on my desk for all of the "chat" application [every one mentioned in this thread to date, plus a few others]. When O365 is not involved in that organizations dynamics, I prefer Slack, but when it is I do prefer Teams (Microsoft).... Much depends on the use-cases.



  • @boomzilla said in Usable team instant messaging:

    We use it and I haven't found it to be awful (aside from my previous rant about the linux client not being able to "close to the taskbar"). What about it do you find awful?

    What does "close to the taskbar" even mean?

    Anyway, it's been a few years since I tried it, but I remember it just being buggy and quirky as shit. Messages wouldn't sync for hours for no reason. It'd stop working if you switched networks or joined the VPN until you closed and restarted it. I think the entire time I worked at that company, screen sharing simply never worked, and we usually also gave up and used Skype For Business to do voice calls too because it barely worked over VPN.

    We had to use it because we were a HIPAA organization and Slack doesn't do on-premises. (Which, BTW, is the World's Worst Business Decision. Slack could fucking CLEAN-UP if they did on-premise servers. And Slack's not even good, it's just that every app in this space is so goddamned awful. Mediocre becomes good.)



  • @blakeyrat said in Usable team instant messaging:

    What does "close to the taskbar" even mean?

    Ah, I probably should have said system tray (I know Windows has a different official name). It's when you click on the close widget in the corner of the window (usually an ✖ but of course Mac is different) and it goes into the system tray (or whatever your platform calls it). It's like minimizing, but it doesn't take up space in the normal taskbar that shows open windows.

    @blakeyrat said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Anyway, it's been a few years since I tried it, but I remember it just being buggy and quirky as shit. Messages wouldn't sync for hours for no reason. It'd stop working if you switched networks or joined the VPN until you closed and restarted it. I think the entire time I worked at that company, screen sharing simply never worked, and we usually also gave up and used Skype For Business to do voice calls too because it barely worked over VPN.

    Hmm...we only started it a year or so ago, so I guess they've fixed it up, because I've never seen most of that. On occasion I've seen it have difficulty connecting to the server (and it always bitches to me about the cert we have on there -- just fucking remember it already!). Also, obviously I'm using a totally different client than you are.

    One of the nice features is that if you send a message to someone who's offline it sends an email to them. I've forgotten to start it up on occasion.



  • @boomzilla Well you're also a Lunix user. Remember the word "usable" is in the thread title. You have no credibility when it comes to judging usability if you voluntarily subject yourself to that shitty OS.



  • @blakeyrat said in Usable team instant messaging:

    You have no credibility when it comes to judging usability if you voluntarily subject yourself to that shitty OS.

    I wouldn't dream of trying to convince people who like Windows of anything sensible.



  • @heterodox said in Usable team instant messaging:

    @bulb said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Cisco Jabber: It does not store any history. None. At all. Pretty useless.

    That's not true. It can integrate with Outlook to log there, same way Communicator/Skype does it.

    Maybe it can, but the instance we have only integrates to the point it shows status in outlook, but does not store anything in it.



  • @bulb How about...

    /me re-reads list to make sure idea isn't already covered

    Uhm... at this point, I guess a 'use Duo' joke would fall flat as not being absurd enough.



  • @scholrlea said in Usable team instant messaging:

    @bulb How about...

    /me re-reads list to make sure idea isn't already covered

    Uhm... at this point, I guess a 'use Duo' joke would fall flat as not being absurd enough.

    Especially since I know Duo as the 2FA software I use to log in to VPN (and just about every other company resource).



  • Fair enough.

    When I was working for the company mentioned in "Test No Software Before It Ships!", one of the other devs made a dinky team notification tool called "Who's Where?" for use by people in the company - all eight of us, which is including the accountant/receptionist; no, that wasn't Sophianna, she was the graphic artist (where 'graphic' presumably referred to her mildly yiffy desktop wallpaper).

    It was so bad that when Jack SaScott Slokum decided to try selling it, it made its way onto the Interface Hall of Shame website. I deny being the one who pointed them in its direction because I was trying to get them to look at the company's main product, instead, in hope of shaming the guilty into fixing it and/or letting me do so, but they must have seen it for the crawling horror it was and decided to save their sanity.

    I suspect that were it continued, by now it would have evolved into a monstrosity of horrifying proportions, but it would still be better than most of the ones out there now.


  • Notification Spam Recipient

    +1 for Discord.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @pie_flavor said in Usable team instant messaging:

    +1 for Discord.

    +1 again. Pretty hilarious that a (free) gaming chat service manages to top the list IMO.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @adynathos said in Usable team instant messaging:

    voice chat.

    And now screen sharing/video chat, although it's gotta be in a DM/Group DM


  • Notification Spam Recipient

    @sloosecannon They're working on video chat rooms in normal servers.


  • area_can

    @thecpuwizard teams = slack - performance + bugs (yes, slack can become even less responsive)



  • @bb36e said in Usable team instant messaging:

    @thecpuwizard teams = slack - performance + bugs (yes, slack can become even less responsive)

    Again, I say, it all depends on your scenario.... For example, now much custom programming have you done against both Slack and Microsoft Teams using the respective APIs and integrating with other products (especially O365, VSTS and Azure)???


  • area_can

    @thecpuwizard said in Usable team instant messaging:

    For example, now much custom programming have you done against both Slack and Microsoft Teams using the respective APIs and integrating with other products (especially O365, VSTS and Azure)???

    I mean, I've only done webhooks for teams and some basic hello world stuff with slack. but i'm not sure why that matters. as a user, teams has only ever been a janky piece of alpha-quality software rife with bugs.



  • @bb36e said in Usable team instant messaging:

    as a user, teams has only ever been

    When used standalone or with minimal integration, I do not overly disagree, though I might phrase it a touch differently.



  • @boomzilla said in Usable team instant messaging:

    @blakeyrat said in Usable team instant messaging:

    What does "close to the taskbar" even mean?

    Ah, I probably should have said system tray (I know Windows has a different official name). It's when you click on the close widget in the corner of the window (usually an ✖ but of course Mac is different) and it goes into the system tray (or whatever your platform calls it). It's like minimizing, but it doesn't take up space in the normal taskbar that shows open windows.

    Or taskbar notification area? Otherwise "Close to the taskbar" is just a more convoluted way of saying "minimize"



  • @bjolling said in Usable team instant messaging:

    @boomzilla said in Usable team instant messaging:

    @blakeyrat said in Usable team instant messaging:

    What does "close to the taskbar" even mean?

    Ah, I probably should have said system tray (I know Windows has a different official name). It's when you click on the close widget in the corner of the window (usually an ✖ but of course Mac is different) and it goes into the system tray (or whatever your platform calls it). It's like minimizing, but it doesn't take up space in the normal taskbar that shows open windows.

    Or taskbar notification area? Otherwise "Close to the taskbar" is just a more convoluted way of saying "minimize"

    No, I definitely meant system tray. I have no idea what the Windows client does or doesn't do.



  • @boomzilla said in Usable team instant messaging:

    I have no idea what the Windows client does

    Crash is always a save bed


  • kills Dumbledore

    @luhmann said in Usable team instant messaging:

    a save bed

    A safe bet, even?



  • At work we have both Skype for Business and HipChat. Skype for everybody and HipChat for engineering. My team only really uses HipChat to chat with other teams.

    The biggest reason people were excited to get something like HipChat was chat history. I guess I don't understand that. Good luck look back 6 months if you need to remember a chat that happened with all the spew that happens in the meantime. If you just want it for a couple days history, that doesn't seem worth it either.

    Some teams, that are all co-located in the office, use it to talk among the team. My team does a lot more face to face (walk to somebody's cube and talk to them).

    The engineering-wide room is kind of useful.

    My only grip with the tool itself is something about the way it draws itself bogs down my whole computer when it has focus and I'm connected over RDP. On the rare occasion where I care when I WFH I can just use the web client which works reasonably well. I haven't used HipChat enough to know what I'm missing when I do that, and so far I haven't cared.


  • kills Dumbledore

    @luhmann said in Usable team instant messaging:

    a save bed

    Like the ones in inns in JRPGs?


  • And then the murders began.

    @mikehurley said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Good luck look back 6 months if you need to remember a chat that happened with all the spew that happens in the meantime.

    Does HipChat not have a search feature? If not, that seems... spectacularly useless.

    Some teams, that are all co-located in the office, use it to talk among the team. My team does a lot more face to face (walk to somebody's cube and talk to them).

    Our teams are geographically distributed (until a month ago nobody was in the same office as another person!), so that's not really an option here.


  • kills Dumbledore

    @jaloopa said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Like the ones in inns in JRPGs?

    Don't forget GTA V.

    @unperverted-vixen said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Does HipChat not have a search feature? If not, that seems... spectacularly useless.

    It does. There's a time limit on it (I think it's a couple months) if you have the free HipChat vs. HipChat Premium or whatnot.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @bulb
    SfB does support persistent chats with some degree of history logging, but I only know about them academically; Shadow IT here had already moved on to Slack before we got to implementation of SfB's persistent chats, and given that my predecessor couldn't set up SIP to save his life, Skype has a very bad name in our company, so it wasn't worth trying to push back on the Slack implementation.

    (Incidentally, failure to properly set up SfB's SIP should be a permanent disbarring from the IT field. The documentation for it is actually pretty good, and it's actually more stupid proof than Asterisk or Cisco Call Mangler. Also more stupid, and setting up SfB's queuing is akin to spending 50 years in the 9th circle of Hell, but if you can't get conference calls working, that's on you for being a dumbass, and not on Skype).


  • kills Dumbledore

    @heterodox said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Don't forget GTA V.

    Never played it so it's less a case of forgetting and more one of having no idea



  • @unperverted-vixen said in Usable team instant messaging:

    @mikehurley said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Good luck look back 6 months if you need to remember a chat that happened with all the spew that happens in the meantime.

    Does HipChat not have a search feature? If not, that seems... spectacularly useless.

    Some teams, that are all co-located in the office, use it to talk among the team. My team does a lot more face to face (walk to somebody's cube and talk to them).

    Our teams are geographically distributed (until a month ago nobody was in the same office as another person!), so that's not really an option here.

    Since I don't use it that much, I don't know. I assume so. Still, I have to assume it's more of a mess than searching through email since emails are at least chunked into conversations, at least in Outlook and gmail.

    Plus many of the team that use it all the time do a bunch of screwing around in there like it's an old AOL chatroom. I can't imagine that helps with searches.



  • So, in our company, we use Teams and Skype for Business mostly. The interesting thing here, though, is that one project was started by some contractors who preferred slack, and our team had to pick that up.

    So, as of the current versions of these things:

    • Skype for Business is old, rebranded Lync, on the same backend as Lync, and Microsoft hates it and wants to phase it out, but it currently is quite good at video things.
    • Slack seems to be an attempt to replace IRC - it has an oddly large amount in common with the ancient chat system, but doesn't seem to do a lot.
    • And then we have Teams. Teams is an interesting case: Microsoft is making something like Slack on the backend for the non-for-business Skype specifically for business use. They're adding features little by little, with a goal of eliminating Skype for Business once feature parity (or close to it) is managed. Unlike Blakey, I've found it nicer to interact with than Slack, because the UI at least makes some sense - I can find threads and channels and direct conversations pretty easily, whereas having poked around in Slack, I cannot even guarantee it has two-person conversations.

    Teams may not be great right now, but really nothing is. You could probably write some weird IRC server that would be more effective than any of these for pure text chat. But I think Teams will get there eventually.



  • @thecpuwizard said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Again, I say, it all depends on your scenario....

    My scenario is "I don't want software that's shitty and awful". And Teams is that.

    @thecpuwizard said in Usable team instant messaging:

    For example, now much custom programming have you done against both Slack and Microsoft Teams using the respective APIs and integrating with other products (especially O365, VSTS and Azure)???

    That's great, but I'd rather the fucking minimize button work. Another case of an idiot development team adding in 462 advanced features before they get any of the fucking basic ones right.



  • @magus said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Unlike Blakey, I've found it nicer to interact with than Slack, because the UI at least makes some sense - I can find threads and channels and direct conversations pretty easily, whereas having poked around in Slack, I cannot even guarantee it has two-person conversations.

    Well keep in mind my overarching theme here is every product in this space is shitty and buggy, some (Google Hangouts, for example) are just slightly shittier and buggier than others.

    None of them are at the quality level of, say, AOL Instant Messenger circa 1998. (AOL Instant Messenger actually let you style text and transfer files via. drag&drop. Amazing sci-fi technology they had in the 90s.)

    Sadly I'd have to agree that Discord is one of the better ones, now that they've fixed their shitty-ass audio quality. However, it's still at the bottom of the barrel as far as quality goes. Simple shit, like Move/Minimize/Restore/Etc working on the taskbar window preview, doesn't work, and they actually had to go out of their way to make that not-work in Windows, since you get that for "free" if you don't code your app like a dumbshit. (Slack has the same problem, last I used it.)

    Once they get the basic fucking shit working, then CPU Wizard can start impressing me with the 836 integrations with other products, most of which are probably more annoying than useful.


  • kills Dumbledore

    @blakeyrat said in Usable team instant messaging:

    That's great, but I'd rather the fucking minimize button work

    What's wrong with the minimise button? It seems to work on the version I have installed



  • WtfAeroCorp used Office Lync for Business and it worked OK in my experience, but honestly if you wanted to team up with folks to work on something you just walked to their cubicle. It was a great way to attend the big meetings so you could work on something rather than sit in the cafeteria with everyone else.


  • kills Dumbledore

    @blakeyrat said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Simple shit, like Move/Minimize/Restore/Etc working on the taskbar window preview, doesn't work

    OK, yeah. That is a stupid cockup.


  • area_can

    @jaloopa said in Usable team instant messaging:

    OK, yeah. That is a stupid cockup.

    To be fair, you can't expect a small startup like Microsoft to know the finer points of the Windows api



  • @jaloopa said in Usable team instant messaging:

    What's wrong with the minimise button?

    When you click it the tooltip for it hovers on your monitor divorced from any active windows until you notice it a half hour later and think, "why the fuck is a white rectangle with the word 'minimize' hovering over my desktop?" and it takes you shutting down every fucking app on your computer to find that, oh, it's Teams with that moronic super-obvious bug.



  • @bb36e said in Usable team instant messaging:

    To be fair, you can't expect a small startup like Microsoft to know the finer points of the Windows api

    Which of the two, Discord or Slack, are made by Microsoft?


  • kills Dumbledore

    @blakeyrat said in Usable team instant messaging:

    @bb36e said in Usable team instant messaging:

    To be fair, you can't expect a small startup like Microsoft to know the finer points of the Windows api

    Which of the two, Discord or Slack, are made by Microsoft?

    Oh, you were talking about Discord with that? Teams has the same bug. Right clicking on the pup up preview (on Windows 7) just dismisses it.

    @blakeyrat said in Usable team instant messaging:

    When you click it the tooltip for it hovers on your monitor divorced from any active windows

    I just don't see a tooltip



  • @jaloopa said in Usable team instant messaging:

    Oh, you were talking about Discord with that? Teams has the same bug.

    Does it? Where there you go. It's shitty too. I hope you morons remember this thread next time you're stereotyping me as some kind of Microsoft sycophant.

    Frankly, I notice that bug more on Discord, because that little contextual menu is how you move a window out from underneath a game running in "full-screen-windowed" mode, and Discord's supposed to be a chat app for gamers. It shows the developers of it haven't played a fucking video game in their lives, by not bothering to test that feature.

    @jaloopa said in Usable team instant messaging:

    I just don't see a tooltip

    Maybe they "fixed" this bug my removing the tooltip altogether. Ben'll back me up on Teams having this hugely blatant obvious bug, as we both independently noticed it.

    Whatever. Point is Teams is shit.


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