This is why: friction is not always a bad thing. Having to print out that mail twice before putting it into the envelope stops you from sending stupid stuff – it would just not be worth the effort, or you'd reconsider before you bring it to the mail. This means also friction saves you from reading a lot of unconsidered, badly worded and meaningless words, people would just easily write off their chest if it was frictionless.
The lack of friction in messengers is great for friends, family and loved ones – but I'd rather have work collegues either see me in person, call me, open a ticket or write me a nicely worded mail than chatting me up using a messenger at work. This is mostly due to the fact that many people can't keep messengers strictly work related. If you send five mails in a row because you always "forgot something", you look like an idiot. If you do the same in a messenger you will just come away as beeing casual. And the other side ends up having to filter through that mess. The energy you save by the lack of friction is payed by the other side.
I'm a huge advocate of async work especially in remote teams. Every real time chat about an importan decision has felt chaotic as people type message after message adding details and leaving out others which causes this long back and forth between people. The end result is always a mess leaving it to someone to go through it again and summarize information.
Messaging is just a bad format for focused conversations. Ceremony and friction are, like you say, a good thing. The physical parallel to this is sending in a request for a meeting with some details as opposed to just walking up to someone to chat with an idea you just had.
Not to say messaging is bad for everything. But it's definitely not good for calm, slow, focused conversations.
Thinking up a subject alone focusses the mind.
May be hard to get across the _feel_ of using a product in screenshots -- we're ramping up our invites (making sure things scale + features work as expected!) but we'll be fully open quite soon! :) (and, we might be slightly partial to dense UIs!)
How does Quill compare to Zulip, which has the same philosophy (and is Open Source)?
Another drawback to assigning colors to users is that you tend to run out quickly: Do those users carry their bubble colors across the entire workspace? If they do, in a company of more than ten or so people, you end up with repeats, and threads where everyone will be the same or similar colors. Conversely, if colors are assigned dynamically per thread, it will be confusing switching context and having the same person appear in different colors!
If I were designing something like this, I'd look into other axes on which to vary chat bubbles to promote differentiation. Avatars are a reliable source of high-entropy variance, so maybe you could utilize them in a novel way. It could even be a generating a combination of colors using a scheme similar to the old iTunes album cover color matching.
Anyway, it's an exciting product, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes!
Are you sure the same problem is also applicable to teams which are going to be much smaller than an irc channel and wouldn't be as busy as IRC? A private channel with a subset of team members wouldn't be the same as a public irc channel.
It's a way to keep track of the conversations you're having instead of a stream of consciousness (with multiple conversations interleaved) that is often times what people find in a channel. Once you shift to using threads, you sort of unlock a lot of things: revisiting old conversations via search, restarting conversations becomes trivial (all the context is right there!), managing your notifications (per conversation instead of per message now), quickly catching up on what you missed vs. sifting through hundreds of messages.
We're mostly solving for teams bigger than 3, but, we think it's really important that it does scale down to small teams.
For what it's worth, my company is (unfortunately) very chat-heavy, and I use threads in two person conversations fairly often. Sometimes conversations branch off of other conversations.
Separately, I'll agree that busy colors in a UI will limit adoption (particularly for anyone in enterprise or startups with a strong visual-design culture). You don't want Quill to clash with the visual work people are doing. Perhaps having the ability to have multiple "color intensity" themes, and a more muted scheme as an option, would let you expand your audience.
Good luck! Plenty of these tools but it looks like you're pushing the boundaries!
MS Teams is garbage overall. But the threaded-only chat style is actually kind of nice. It's easy to keep conversation threads in order, and people tend to veer less into off-topic banter. Plus I can just keep IRC and Discord open in the background for banter.
What we've found is when a group gets large and/or complex enough, they end up graduating to creating a team and using the channels/threads model.
It's horses for courses, but for me, threaded IM is a _terrible_ UX.
Real time conversations gets hidden as so much is buried in the the real time thread.
But for regular forums threads are perfect and make total sense.
Similarly, it seems like a terrible UX to have IM style conversation on a blog or news site.
I love the focus and clarity it brings to our work. And I am so glad to have a much better sense of peace while working at my computer than when I’ve used other tools for collaboration.
But communication is essential to humans so there'll always be space to do more, or doing more by doing less. I really welcome the competition in this space.
At first I loved slack, now I have a love/hate relationship with it. I'm sure I could easily be swayed with a more performant product focused on basics and good integration with other services.
I don't want to be alerted unless something is important and urgent. I was taught at college to use that distinction.
Not seeing the word "urgent" in the copy on the front page made me think the authors don't appreciate this.
At the risk of sounding like that bloke who wrote about how he wants to be playing offense, not defense, when it comes to communication, this is what I tell people I work with:
Important/Urgent: Call me or come find me
Important/Not Urgent: Tell me when we next talk, or email me
Unimportant/Urgent: Hover by my desk, or message me. If I'm not dealing with more important things, I might see it in time.
Unimportant/Not Urgent: Bring it up when we next see each other, or email me.
The only things I want making a noise and interrupting me is calls on my phone, the doorbell, my egg-timer and my smoke alarm.
We think of it as bringing the way people behave in person, online. If you have headphones on, working away, and I have a low priority question, I'll find you later. But if I just brought down prod, I urgently need to reach you :)
It was pretty vindicating to see multiple staff engineers follow my lead haha; when you get to a certain level of responsibility, the volume of Slack pings from people who need something from you makes it impossible to do any focused work.
The real problem here is that my co doesn't use email for things that aren't time-sensitive; avoiding email means removing the async channel, so my only option was to convert Slack to async.
The recent switch to remote has been challenging though, since there's no pressure valve of "come by my desk if it's time-sensitive". Slack's DnD mode has a "notify Anyway" option, but I've found that only higher-ups are comfortable using it, even though my status says "please feel free to notify".
Is it really a Show HN if you only have screenshots to show?
Still, looks like an interesting, well-designed product, so kudos to that. Just not a good Show HN.
What concerns me about whether Quill could succeed is: why would I choose this over Slack?
The whole 'threading' part could be accomplished via better onboarding and policy around Slack usage, and at the last startup I worked on, we were diligent about threading conversations on different topics already.
Is this a bet that tailoring the app around that 'threading' use-case and further encouraging its enforcement will be enough of a marginal improvement to take some market share, or is there more that's new here?
Also, what about those fun channels where you just chat and ramble with your colleagues about stuff outside of work hours? Would someone still need Slack for that, or would you have very large groups of DMs?
Finally - I waited years for this :).
In short, I hope you succeed in solving this.
To my mind, Slack is to virtual work what open offices are to physical collaboration. They can be used well, but the default is a continuous drain on attention.
Quill is available on macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android.
Throw this under the 'Professional Messaging' with something like 'Cross Platform': 'Works on all your favorite tools - your browser, Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS.'
Otherwise, this just feels like an apple garden app.
Although this seems so be a good intention, I question:
do the regular conversations _not_ belong to yourself?
For user's that want extra security, we plan on offering e2e encryption for direct messages and groups (and maybe eventually channels). There are some tradeoffs with e2e encryption including scalability, search, history, and just the ergonomics of using it, which is why we call out that distinction specifically.
(But, we can see how current wording may be a but obtuse -- we'll tweak it.)
(I work at Quill too). Yes, absolutely! That is just table stakes when it comes to security for your messaging experience.
I'm also really curious how you'll handle End-to-End Encryption. The only good alternative in this space is Keybase, and even their UX has some ways to go. Do you plan to use MLS?
Will Quill play nice with federated systems?
how will the API work for developers? Personally I think the attention Slack put into their API is the reason it is so popular and will continue to own the space until there is a competitor with their api/bot building abilities.
So your protocols are open and anyone can write a client and view the server source code? You know, like the spirit of IRC and the open internet?
Or is it a bloated webkit "app", hosted on private servers?
You're right but in this case, I don't think your criticism is relevant to why they mentioned "IRC". Maybe I misread their webpage but it sounds like they're criticizing IRC. The full blurb immediately after "We grew up using IRC" is about "message fatigue" and "pain of having to skim thousands of messages":
>We grew up using IRC. We’re a team of engineers and designers that hit message fatigue. We’ve felt the pain of having to skim thousands of messages, and we’re building Quill to solve it.
So it's like they're actually saying, "We grew up using IRC and know all its faults really well and we're trying to fix it."
My annoyance was them touting "we grew up using IRC" and then taking none of the hacker ethos from it. I'm not saying they have to abandon profit entirely, but I would like to have seen some openness in their protocols. Some mention of launching an open API. But nothing.
Let's project forward a little using lessons from the past : This is a company, that has taken funding, has not launched a product, and is presumably not profitable. So if they run out of cash they're going to say to their investors, we have run out of money, and the investors are going to say what are your assets?
- The code
- A huge database of private conversations
Can you see why I'm not rushing to put all my private conversations in there?
I think you should call it QwertyQuill. Better suits the colour scheme, tone of the copy, product, market etc.
the logo should be a keyboard button with a quill on it.
(as you know) This is a very competitive market. You should lean into being the good-times-vibe-work-chat-app choice, be genuinely counter-culture, I don't mean put a gay flag on your social media profile. Get those eco-groups (the weird ones) using your app, get alt-right groups (not the ones that have killed people) using your app, fandoms, femdoms etc. Be proud of it, broadcast it, make sure you are the weird chat app people.