Slack launched in August 2013 as a plain text chat service without voice and video calls. Skype and HipChat already existed for a decade before Slack entered the market.
In just seven years Slack went from being an internal team chat app to making a $28 billion exit.
And Teams is darn near unusable due to interface weirdness, but Windows 11 integration gives me hope that this problem can be fixed.
On Android, I've had it crash twice this week when trying to expand a message I sent.
Not to mention the terrible and inconsistent UI of course, but I think that's already what it's known for.
This is not limited to teams. Azure Active Directory, Windows Servers, Sharepoint, OneDrive... they all have terrible UX.
Google also managed to do a similarly bad job. Google Talk was quite popular.
Teams is terrible, Azure DevOps is painful, windows has a had a lot of misses; but .NET is awesome, Azure is my favourite all-round IaaS/Paas and lots of their new initiatives are pleasant surprises, so IMO Microsoft is at their best as any time in the past 10+ years or longer.
Salesforce is probably banking on a similar bundling tactic to 365, which makes the sale seem like a tactical move reflecting the reality that better doesn't always matter. Plus Microsoft is also working on a CRM to rival Salesforce.
Of course, Teams is free when you have Office365, so.... there's that.
e: and zoom
All my other Skyping is just messaging and calls for free so it’s lame that they keep trying to expire the money I spent.
Skype for business is a giant ball of shit and perhaps the worse messenger product I’ve ever used, and I’ve used them all since IRC and text in 1993. Here’s how it sucks:
-Calls and video consume large bandwidth
-Client will peg cpu at 100% for unknown reasons while idling
-Sometimes client will freeze in the background and not take calls or IMs
-can’t drag and drop images into chat. Sends them as attachments
-not reliable. Calls will drop. Individuals on calls will drop. Screen share works or doesn’t work unpredictably. Video works or doesn’t work unpredictably.
-Messages aren’t delivered, sometimes with an error that says “prepend couldn’t be reached so message wasn’t delivered” even though the user shows as online and green
-Sometimes that message actually was delivered
-Mobile does not sync chats with desktop
Instant messaging is so simple and using Skype is worse than nothing. I’d rather email than have a tool that works 90% of the time. Imagine is SMS sometimes didn’t deliver messages. Who would use that.
Coupled with Skype being the reason why all other instant messenger apps were banned from orgs. In 2001, my company was using yahoo messenger, for free, without any of the problems above with 200 people IMing hundreds of times a day (although we never video or voice called). In 2021, my org pays for Teams and Skype and we use a mix of SMS/iMessage and a million other things because no one IMs any more.
SMS does not have a delivery guarantee.
Comically, Skype does have an SLA including delivery and sucks at it.
I don’t need delivery guarantee, I just need reliability. If I could even predict when Skype works or doesn’t, I could at least plan around it.
* Slow startup, slow everything
* File uploads work maybe 50% of the time
* Calls are frequently dropped
* Sometimes will just flatout stop responding and crash in the middle of chat or a call.
* Resource hog
the list goes on.
I have never had that experience with another chat application.
File uploads are blocked by company policy. And it fails with a cryptic error or no error at all when blocked, rather than giving a meaningful explanation.
Then they renamed Lync to be Skype for Business, and now had to try to make those 2 systems work together.
Then Windows 8 comes along and they rewrite the client in Metro, but it doesn't do everything, so the Win32 client still exists.
Also recall that MS had MSNMessenger, so guns all pointing at each other.
Then they got social network jealousy, so tried to do something with Skype, then gave up.
I've still no idea if skype can call Lync/SfB/Teams or not.
I assume at some point they didn't bother making Android/iOS apps because they wanted WinPhone to be a thing.
If anyone is wondering, I believe this might be a reference to this "microsoft organisational chart" .
Hence the redesign around a client-server model, where MS could guarantee call quality a lot better, and which allowed for mobile to thrive.
None of which excuses the UI of course, or problems with the back end. Or lync, or any of the other problems. But it does give some context.
* They replaced a reasonably fast (on Windows) or extremely fast and native (on Linux) application with a slow and bloated Electron-based client that was initially missing many of the features.
* They introduced multiple different types of chats as an attempt to transition from P2P to cloud-based. Depending on when and how you started a chat, it would use one or the other system with no obvious indication but many subtle differences in terms of supported features.
* The web client and desktop client (despite also being written using web technologies) had various differences, such as different parsing of chat message formatting, so what you sent differed from what the other person saw in many cases.
* Terrible/no tools for managing larger chat groups.
And for the mobile app:
* Mobile client is by far the slowest app on my phone (even today), taking easily 10+ seconds from tapping a notification to having the chat fully loaded. (Every other chat app this is <1s)
* Mobile client frequently misses or is late in showing notifications of received messages.
* Mobile client used to murder my battery life. Thankfully this was fixed a few years ago.
Even before then, it was extremely spotty with occasionally refusing to deliver messages, not being able to hear the other person on calls, and other stability issues. But it's been so long, I don't remember the exact details anymore, just that it gradually went from a piece of software that I really liked to something that was giving me the most trouble out of any software I was using.
Feature creep expressing as bloat.
 messenger? was it hangouts? meet? Is it duo now?
Now we've got competitive options through Slack instead of Hipchat, Asana instead of Jira, and Notion instead of Confluence.
Heck even Trello became competitive enough for Atlassian to acquire them.
I'm very happy with the new jira that we've been using for the past ~18 months, and I think it strikes the right balance between simplicity and ease of setup while still supporting the features we need.
The UX-flow might be good, not sure, but the tech is so bad it actually inhibits users. The use of independent components might be neat when loading a Jira card from Bitbucket pull requests (which works), but it makes loading Jira cards from... Jira, terrible. Imo.
There's nothing in JIRA that take anywhere near 40 seconds to open.
If you really have pages that take double digit seconds to open (you can open your browser's development tools to measure), it's more likely administrator in your company that is to blame for doing a horrible setup running the web service on a toaster and the database on a NAS.
I just (loosely) timed it, it took ~10-12s to open a backlog selected issue card _with cache_ from refresh. I used that example because it highlights the list i gave before.
1. The page loads, a bit slow in general.
2. The dom has loaded, so now backlog issues are loading.
3. The backlog issues are loaded, so now the selected component opens.
4. The selected issue component starts loading data.
5. Your data is now finally visible.
The ~10-12s is loosely evenly spread through the entire steps 1-5. This is on Jira Cloud, no "toaster NAS" unless you want to blame Jira Cloud for running a toaster, in which case i'd agree.
The problem in my mind isn't the servers. Opening the network tab, you see requests responding a bit slow, maybe 50-500ms, but not _terrible_. I'd like to see all requests below 300ms personally.
The problem is the UI design. Everything executes dynamically and sequentially. The URL indicates exactly what sort of page i want to see, but nothing is loaded until the JS loads, renders, makes a request for whatever data that individual component needs. Any sub-components to this then get rinse and repeat once they are actually loaded.
When you stack components on components on components that all need to sequentially load data a 1-2s load time starts to stack up, fast. And best of all, network requests are slowed down by how fast your DOM renders? Ugh.
But in addition to that, 1-3 seconds per click is horrible imo. I have to literally pause, and slow down my workflow, because every input (navigation click) takes 1-3 seconds to load? That sort of delay starts to drag on users, imo.
Wasn't JS based UI's supposed to _lighten_ the load? Make web pages faster because they could just ask for the data that changed? This feels like such a massive step backward from simple HTML, like HN.
1-3 seconds being good, or even okay, is abysmal to me. Especially when the full page isn't needed, just a handful of data. Something is fundamentally broken with this version of the "modern web". And i say that as a web developer who loves complex frontend technologies. But to me if the user isn't getting a faster response, the frontend tech would be better off as plain HTML.
I recently had to setup a project and workflow for a new team, and was steeling myself for a configuration nightmare. But then I saw there's a new way to create projects. It is so much simpler to configure workflow, statuses, etc in these new projects. Because they're designed not to be shared across the whole org. The configuration is contained within the project.
So they've created a de-enterprised process for configuring Jira, and made it far more suitable for smaller companies, or for teams that self-administer. All the clunky stuff is still there, but completely separate and you don't have to use it.
I either use slack as a "cdn" posting my image there and putting a link, or simply ignore it.
I actively avoid jira, as it is slow, and buggy.
This years long process of badly re-implementing bitbucket on prem into the cloud, feature by feature, while the rest of the world evolves passed what they bought years ago is absurd.
Source: I was an employee there when this was being built.
I still only try to touch it once a day though. :}
Atlassian and all Jira products are ugly, and have more menus and settings scattered around than microsoft.
Google luck replacing Confluence with Notion if you are a company of more than 100 employees
I work in an org with shifting project teams and the need for persistent docs and paying $100/user for thousands of people who will minimally contribute to material made by dozens of users was too expensive. I used to use hosted confluence but not use GitHub (for like $50/year) and GitLab community hosted (for a little devops labor).
As soon as you have a lot of documents, the search is super slow. Search that is super limited regarding its filtering capabilities.
Not possible to impose a structure on documents, no review before publishing. The right management system is super unflexible, the folder system is too flexible, the UI overall is not built to support thousands of docs, almost no analytics...
So yeah Notion looks better at first, but I dont know any company of more than 100 employees that would trade it from Confluence.
(I'm building a competitor to Confluence that looks good and is UX friendly, but to me I'm not building a competitor to Notion, Notion is very limited in term of the functionalities companies need)
I’m pretty sure every one of those scoffers had multiple Slack accounts within a couple years. :)
A smarter play might have been to buy similar office services years ago and create a package of their own.
Discord is relatively safe from this and can continue to grow atop its gamer user base.
Any hypothesis on why they could pull this off? Better sales? Better product? Both?
But also, if they did start work on a new game, I'd immediately start following it.
What you put in there is basically closed from the public, complete opposit of openness.
Does matrix / someone else solve it? How?
We provide our full Zulip Cloud Standard paid plan for free to open source projects (and various other worthy causes!). We also prioritize and build features specifically because OSS projects asked for them:
Hundreds of open source projects, including Rust, Julia, MariaDB, and Clojure, use Zulip as their team chat platform. We often hear from large open source projects that they substantially prefer Zulip's topic-based model to the user experience in Discord or Slack, or that they found it made their open source community work. See for example these tweets from the last few weeks:
Also in contrast with open core products like Mattermost, Zulip is proudly 100% open source software. You can learn a bit more about Zulip's open source model here:
Personally, i find Rocket.Chat ( https://rocket.chat/ ) to be simple enough to set up in a Docker container and have running as a passable alternative to Slack/Discord. There are downloadable clients as well. The only real downside I've seen is somewhat bad support for calls because their WebRTC implementation is still new and integrating with Big blue button or whatever else they offered is hard.
I'm not sure about this detail of Slack's ToS. At a technical level, you can certainly export your data from a Slack (which is we implement https://zulip.com/help/import-from-slack); I imagine it's easy to write a tool to format and publish it.
FWIW Zulip maintains https://github.com/zulip/zulip-archive, which is a configurable API-based tool for creating a static HTML archive from a Zulip organization, with tooling to update it every few minutes. A lot of larger open projects use it. (We're also working on a native logged-out access feature with less janky formatting, which has a working PR that we need to integrate).
I suppose you could export your data from Slack, import it into Zulip, and then publish that using zulip-archive if you didn't want to write any code, but I'm sure the formatting would be better preserved if one avoided the "convert Slack markup to Zulip markup" step.
There is a hosted SaaS version of Mattermost as well. We don't have an established non-profit license for it yet, but you can contact community[at]mattermost.com and we'd be happy to discuss options.
Then no one can limit the messages that you can have in the chat or make you pay for many of the features or suddenly take the software away from you or make you have an outage due to external factors of any software vendor.
And if you want automatic updates, then either use the :latest tag, use apt/yum/... packages with unattended upgrades or something like Snaps for Ubuntu. However, in my experience, updates should be done manually and only when you're ready to roll them back (unless there are non-breaking security updates which are only available for OSes most of the time).
As for spam, if you can't moderate your Discord or Slack Space, then the same will apply here, of course.
As for getting owned: if your passwords are simple enough to be guessed or you don't follow other best practices, then the same will apply both to SaaS offerings and the software you're hosting yourself. Basic common sense like not exposing DBs to the Internet and using your firewall to only expose the ports you want was assumed, but not explicitly pointed out in my post.
On one hand, feeding a YAML file into a container orchestration solution takes care of some of those concerns, as does enabling VPS backups and using something like KeePass to generate passwords (which can also be used for everything else, should you so desire).
On the other hand, not everyone necessarily knows how to do that, or wants to do that. To that, i'll indeed concede.
It's just that claiming that these things are too hard for the average technically inclined person to do (regardless of whether they have 2 or 10 years of experience) leads to a mindset in which people rely on SaaSS for everything and never even learn how to run their own software, thus either paying too much for it (relative to the worth it provides them with), or just locking themselves into a particular vendor.
Lastly, by hosting your own software, you are a smaller target than the larger and more centralized SaaS platforms. If a large SaaS gets hacked, although unlikely, it will affect a large amount of people. If your own instance gets hacked, even if more likely (less visible to hackers, almost no gain to be had for hacking John Doe's Nextcloud instance, yet probably also easier to do), it will only affect the few people using it.
Although most of the time Salesforce just leave those acquisition alone and let them do their work. Which is sort of strange if there are no benefits and synergy, it is more like a long term asset investment.
I sometimes wonder if these sort of acquisition has something to do with low interest rate, ease of capital, and tax reduction.
Exactly the fate every casual commenter is hoping for with every acquisition of a decent company. Specifically in gaming. The companies keep calming the public down by promising they'll let the bought company work as before, which of course never happens—otherwise there'd be no reason for the acquisition.
(Waiting for Codemasters to turn into regular EA trash, here.)
If Salesforce found a way to make this very model work, that's great. Personally I've become too jaded to expect anything good from any acquisition.
They still have a "buildpack" OSS project that sort of competes with OCI image
Yes, OK, I need to use Slack to participate in communities set-up by others.
Thank you Kandra Labs and Dropbox: https://zulip.com/history/
Given slack has barely changed at all in the past... 6 years, I would hardly call it "nimble and innovative" any more.
The UI issues, at least for me, are the problem.
I’m certain they do have some advantage though, apart from marketing. I’d love to find out what.
When the startup I was working for was acquired, we first integrated with Salesforce's SSO which was very easy, and kept having our clients use it as a separate product.
Then, we rebranded the UI to look and feel like Salesforce, and changed the product name to fit.
Only after all that did we start looking into moving to their url and fully integrating into the product suite.
In other words, yes, I totally agree and think you are 100% correct.
Leadership folks buy O365 because it's the cheapest way to get Office, Sharepoint, Exchange and so on. Enterprise Teams comes with it whether you want it or not, "no extra charge".
Then, when someone wants Slack, the discussion becomes "We already have Teams. I see Slack does x and y a little better, but is that worth X dollars?".
The whole integration aspect of teams with office365 is also a huge draw.
Ah, yeah, should have mentioned that. Attachments in messages go into OneDrive, MS Forms is used to post a Poll/Quiz, Click on people's names, and you can see org hierarchy from AD, Meetings from Outlook/Exchange are tied to Teams, and so on.
oh wait.. it didn't have to be. it was bundled with Windows.
Just today I had over a dozen different calls, most with screen sharing, several with participants joining and quitting during the call. Several included me taking control of the other's screen. We even swapped screens over a dozen times between participants in one call.
I chatted a lot with my coworkers (corona home office turned into summer home office) including sending screenshots and similar.
I participated in discussions on the team channels, again with attachments.
We used the Excel integration to edit a spreadsheet attached to a meeting in collaboration during the meeting.
I took a couple of calls on my mobile phone while I was making lunch, as well as chatting, continuing the chats seamlessly on my desktop when I was done.
This all just worked. This is more or less a typical Teams day for me these days. However based on the comments on HN, clearly it seems I'm an outlier.
Yes the UI is lacking significantly in some areas, and there are some annoying bugs, but "total dumpster fire" isn't what I'd call it.
Teams has problems with its UI, organizing teams/channels, notifying, and basic always on functions. At least every other day, Teams secretly signs me out and I’m offline until I try to do something and sign in again, just to get IMs and missed calls. That has never happened with Slack.
Also Teams/SharePoint sucks so hard for web site and doc collaboration. Search doesn’t work well and it’s hard to get users organized around content. I’d rather have a shared Word doc than a Teams site.
How are Slack employees doing financially?
The post-acquisition exodus has started, which might imply folks aren’t interested in joining The Machine regardless of the money.
I feel like this can be said about most application development nowadays, especially anything web based. It's one of the reasons I'm losing steam as a web developer. It feels like no matter what project I do or company I work at, I'm really just doing CRUD all day. The only variations are the names of resources and the slight data manipulation you do between the HTTP request and storing it in the database.
Has anyone else experienced this same feeling?
Open-source tools, while they might not always limit feature scope (e.g. Blender, Firefox, Emacs, Audacity, Krita) (although this isn't necessarily a bad thing), seem to be better at delivering good performance even for applications with larger feature-sets, partially because their developers are incentivized to optimize for performance due to their own pride.
That's how you get stuff like Dropbox Paper.
These types of messages make me want to hurl at the self aggrandizing PR speak. I get positive self image and promotion, but good grief this is so over the top. I want a press release that says something closer to the truth, "we have no idea how to gain more users and the money from their wallets, so we're buying another company so we don't have to worry about developing anything on our own. This was the best idea we could come up with"
Not a single quote from anyone from Slack on how they felt it was a good idea and what made it so exciting for them to sell at this time to this buyer. I honestly feel like I need a shower after reading this nonsense.
My sister's company recently got acquired, and it's reminded me how bad it feels to be a regular worker suddenly finding out a company you really love is selling out. Of course, the execs get big bonuses while the regular workers get no say in changes to the business including cuts to their bonuses and perks...
I mean, seriously, WTF is a "single source of truth"?
Salesforce is powerful because they centralize data collected from customer interactions like sales, they're the single source of truth for everything you want to know about your customers (which if you think about it is the most important thing to any business). Integrating chat with slack is an obvious move in that direction, since many people use slack as their primary customer interaction channel these days.
In any case, I never saw Slack as a 'cool' app, despite needing to use it at work for several years. I have only ever heard breathless hype about it, and often wonder if I'm using the same Slack as everyone else. Do people really get that excited about having a channel that updates with the status of your Jira tickets?
In any case, most of the world is not very hip but Salesforce does have a very trustworthy aura to most people not in tech. I think Slack being acquired by Salesforce will probably lead to more Slack customers overall, not less.
When I was there, we used Chatter in org62 and it was awful. Yet a lot of time and money was invested into trying to make it work.
With Slack, they have a very easy upsell for their enterprise customers to keep them away from Teams; as well as inheriting a huge userbase that is very familiar with Slack – imagine getting feeds from Marketing and Sales Cloud on a slack channel, taking customer requests directly on Slack via Service Cloud, etc
Note that these are mostly things you can do today, but by bundling it into the Salesforce suite of products they will greatly increase adoption by cross-selling.
For instance, this just went by on New: https://blog.zoom.us/start-using-zoom-apps/ Zoom, unsatisfied with being the dominant video chat app, now wants to be a "platform" for running apps.
While I understand the nominal business case, the business schools teaching MBAs to reach for this particular golden ring could probably stand to emphasize the importance of continuing to develop the core product as the foundation you expect to stand on in order to become this larger "platform"; seems like in practice, this sort of thing is also an announcement that their core product is now going to begin a long slide into a decaying buggy mess as it gets deprioritized internally in favor of the "platform" product, whereas the platform product usually fails, often non-trivially precisely because they got so excited about all that sweet, sweet lock-in walled-garden platform money that they let their foundation rot and all the wallets they meant to lock in their walled garden wandered away.
I think they started that in the late 2000’s and accomplished it by 2011 or so. Salesforce was the first business to prove SaaS was a viable business model and then launched themselves as a generic application builder that we now call PaaS.
I don’t disagree with your view, but to me, Salesforce isn't another wannabe platform. They’re the one who figured out how to make that path work. (Also, arguably AWS)
If zoom doesn't have a strategy to either diversify or get bought out, they are probably doomed to a slow death.
I've also started to hear Zoom as a noun in place of meeting, "let's do a Zoom", etc., even with people who don't work in tech.
They took over due to being the best offering. They seem entrenched to me now, but who knows...
Can you explain how? To me it seems like the most clunky option that largely became big because people used its name in place of the concept. Some adoption is for latency benefits, but it's not like it's great at that either.
- It desperately wants me not to use the web app
- The desktop app opens a bunch of separate windows, largely without much of a purpose
- The desktop app for some reason requires audio to be enabled separately
- Only the host can share their screen by default
- The "leave meeting" button seems to confuse many people due to its weird one-button submenu
By contrast basically every alternative is just a single click to join, doesn't require extra permissions for core functionality, joins audio by default and just leaves the meeting when you press the button for it.
I do remember how unreliable WebEx was (dropped calls, bad audio, bad video, etc). That was also a desktop app experience, but it was a few years back.
I have used Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts recently as well, although only in the browser. They seemed clunkier to me, but it looks like Microsoft Teams has a desktop app, so maybe the experience of that is better.
I've also tried Discord video calls on their desktop app, but the audio and video quality just didn't compare to Zoom, but maybe it's better with a better plan. Slack calls seemed mostly OK but that was just for a 1 on 1 call, and overall I still preferred Zoom.
In my experience it also seems like Zoom handles low connectivity well, although sometimes it speeds voices up to catch up, but again, I don't mind and then I feel like at least I'm not missing what other folks are saying. Anyway, in general, the experience of Zoom for me has been better than anything other meeting software I've tried.
It makes sense to me that they would want to own conversations in order to cross-sell and up-sell solutions in their portfolio, and also defend against Microsoft which has Teams.
Slack, don’t know, maybe it’s going to be the default communications platforms for Salesforce products and integrations.
I could see Salesforce approaching it from that direction. Good investment that gets them in the door of more companies.
Fly.io is a leap ahead, probably move there next. But what’s a better Heroku than Heroku?
Also, to their credit, they have kept the free tier still going, more or less. I'd have expected Salesforce to have killed that.
People don't think brand advertising produces sales, and it's impossible to prove for each individual transaction, but I'm sure it does work!
Stride wasn't really any better, their whole strategy was to outsource the backend to PubNub
As "Fabric" is a web component, this meant that mobile apps for Stride essentially had webviews for their input box, introducing additional latency (critical for typing), bugs, inconsistent editing behavior to native iOS/Android UIs, and performance issues especially across lower-spec android devices (it's just a textbox FFS!).
Plus, engineers were wasting time figuring out how to sort browser and webview compatibility issues, instead of, you know, implementing a textbox using native technologies which isn't rocket science. To make matters worse, the team working on Fabric was juggling between fixing INPUT BOX bugs on Jira, on Confluence, and on Stride, making it a gigantic mess that kept multiple product managers distracted for the wrong reasons.
Meanwhile, the most advanced robotics company on earth got sold for less than 1 billion.
My mind boggles.
Slack is a great product, but at the end of the day it's a mildly more convenient way of doing stuff that you could do in 2002 with IRC and email. And Mattermost is a pretty good FOSS substitute.
(This isn't counting audio and video calls, but those have been pretty good since around the time of Google Hangouts, long before Slack had audio/video.)
Boston Dynamics is great but who is buying robots?
People spend more money on their electric bills than on iPhones.
BR requires a lot more investment before they can become a worthwhile purchase.
Anecdotally, I see Slack as something I use for professional purposes, and Discord as something I chat with my friends on. I have Slack on my work Mac, and Discord on my personal Mac. I see Slack as an extension of Skype for Business/Lync/other business tools, and I see Discord as a better Mumble/MSN Messenger.
We quit that after screensharing was super low quality compared to Zoom — apparently (even paid for a Discord “server boost”, but no fix. I think it was an issue with the Mac client or something). I think one or two teams still use it, but for the most part everyone’s back to slack + Zoom now.
Zoom's screen sharing is really far and above all others. The quality is razor sharp (framerate suffers but who cares about that when sharing a terminal or document), the collaboration features are amazing (scribble on the content), it has so many useful niche features (draw on your ipad/iphone).
They replaced Teams+Slack with Discord.
But these are all fairly informal use cases, initiated by individual academics and not by "the university".
It really doesn't target the enterprise customer, or even SMEs