FreeYup Software Solutions GmbH is an independent Austrian startup company that came to us with the idea of a mobile app and hired us for our expertise and manpower to develop it. They were looking to develop an app that facilitates group communication, initially by providing the functionality of group voting. We started off the project using JIRA, Confluence, GitHub and Jenkins, but later on switched to JIRA, Confluence, Stash and Bamboo and finally also introduced Atlassian HipChat. The app „FreeYup“ is currently in the beta test phase on both Google Play and the Apple App Store. We have come a long we since we initiated the project last summer and are very excited to see the result finally being available for download.
How HipChat grants remote developers and product owners an overview of the development
Google Hangout and it being „meh, it’s ok“.
Let me start off by writing that, for the first 4 months of development, we used Hangouts to communicate with our PO and designers. And, while it worked well enough, it… mostly just worked. It didn’t add anything that other chats, like Skype for example, couldn’t provide. It lacked the special ingredient to turn it into an asset that made people feel like they could not carry on without it. So that is exactly what happened. After using it for several weeks for our internal communication, eventually we gave up and carried on without it. As soon as Atlassian released their HipChat server for us to host, we made the switch and introduced it into the communication with FreeYup Software Solutions GmbH. And as we were soon to find out, changing the way our internal communication works has made a huge difference. Being able to integrate the communication channel with our main development tools has added a dimension to the project that we did not realise we were missing until we discovered all the additional functions and possibilities that truly make HipChat irreplaceable.
What makes HipChat special?
Of course, as with any other tools, some people where saying „Why do we need that? Hangout works, too!“. Our answer to that, and what we created out of it, silenced those people within a week.
Hipchat tools integration
As always with Atlassian, the integration is excellent. JIRA, Confluence, Stash, Bamboo, you name it, they have it. Even Jenkins and GitHub have integrations for it. For a developer point of view, this is something that really sets HipChat apart from any other chat that we know if. Being able to use it not just for simple „chatting“ but as an additional tool to gain an overview of the development project you are currently working makes it even easier to coordinate and align with your fellow team members.
How do you make something special out of it?
This is where HipChat feels a lot like IRC. Atlassian provides AddOns, which they call Bots, which do all sorts of crazy stuff. For example, generate a meme, or have a standup. The standup function was something that we found especially intriguing, and we decided to add our own personal touch to it. We started off by creating two rooms for our project, one called Docs and one called Code.
Docs-Room: The status quo
In the Docs room, every action from our JIRA and Confluence triggers a notification. Everyone is immediately up to date on what is going on, with the blink of an eye.
Looks something like this, and is cool as heck:
As you can see, every user immediately sees what the current progress is, what documentation has changed in confluence, where work has started and what’s done within under a minute. And if anyone wants to read up on anything, the link is clickable and the information instantly available. It is ideal for combining the features of JIRA and Confluence and you could even use it as your main interface for tracking the progress of the project.
Docs-Room: The desired condition
Our initial idea worked all fine and dandy, but then we thought to ourselves: „Well, this is nice, but what if we were able to get an overview of what is being worked on at any given moment with a simple command, like /standup ?“.
For everyone who doesn’t know what /standup looks like, here’s a screenshot:
This kinda works, but at the moment really only kinda. What we are currently working on is adapting the Standup bot to accept JIRA and Confluence notifications, so whenever JIRA or Confluence send a notification (like above), it is triggered and displays the actions of every single team member.
The outcome would be that, whenever our PO want’s to know what we’re working on, he simply types /standup and immediately sees our current progress on the issues. Again, this is currently being worked on, and not ready quite yet. However, once we have fully implemented this functionality, it will give our customers as well as ourselves access to a lot of important information with one single click.
Code-Room: The status quo:
The Code room is a lot like the Docs room, just more colourful. Why? Because this is where Stash and Bamboo are posting their notifications. Looks like this, and a bit like a rainbow sometimes:
Again, within the blink of an eye, you immediately see the broken builds and Stash commits. Isn’t that wonderful? You don’t even need to be in the office to have a perfect overview about who’s coding on what and which builds are running and passing/failing. This is a great way of monitoring the project, and one that is fun to use and ultimately saves a lot of time.
Code-Room: The desired condition
As we are kinda restless here at Bytesource, we started thinking again: „Wouldn’t it be nice if, by a simple command, you could trigger builds and deployments?“ The answer: no, it would not just be nice, it would be awesome.
And that is what we are currently working on. A simple integration that, whenever you type „/deploy <product>“ or „/build <buildplan>“ it triggers a deployment or a build, all by itself. In the ideal scenario you will only ever need the Bamboo website again if you want to configure your plans, everything else is done by HipChat.
HipChat is a great tool for expanding the developing infrastructure, adding new dimensions to the communication with team members and customers and getting a quick overview about what’s being done. After using it for only a few weeks, we were asking ourselves how we had ever managed without it in the past. HipChat is currently amazing, however I’m pretty sure, by the end of the year, it will be much more than that.