This week, we’re officially launching Vector, a forward-looking open source collaboration app, and the very first production-ready application built on top of the Matrix open standard. In fact Vector Web has been around for a bit, growing and being polished with the help of a passionate community of pioneers and they’ve done a great job of supporting us with useful feedback! And now the mobile apps are out! ☺ So today Vector is ready to be shared more widely as a proper beta.
So why is Vector different? Because we believe that anyone should be able to use the app they prefer to communicate, especially in a working environment where things are particularly fragmented between Slack, HipChat, Skype, Lync etc. Because we believe anyone should be able to own their own data. Because we believe that messaging apps are the new operating systems for businesses, but that doesn’t mean they should be an overwhelming experience for the user. Because we believe that open source software is the greatest way to innovate.
So as you’re joining us in taking a step towards a new world, let us tell you a few more things about us, these beliefs and the potential we see in the near future of the collaboration space. Enjoy the Vector experience!
Amandine Le Pape, Vector Product Manager
We’re here to make better collaboration possible.
We are a passionate team. We collaborate across continents. And we believe that collaboration today can use a reboot. There have been a lot of changes in the past ten years since the days of Outlook through to Office 365, Gmail and the rise of today’s messaging apps such as Slack or HipChat, but the core issue of interconnectivity has somehow become lost along the path of user experience distractions. Distractions which we think do not help with the overall clutter that surrounds users today. Vector has a solution to clean things up.
Progress requires a common language.
Vector is built on top of the Matrix open standard. Matrix.org believes, and so do we, that today’s real-time communication over the Internet is divisive and dysfunctional and that users shouldn’t have to switch between apps they don’t like to talk to different people.
Look at the history of email. Back in the early days, there were several primary email silos and communities for each of the silos. They could not communicate with one another. Thankfully Vint Cerf and others took up the challenge of solving this problem and with support from the community were able to promote SMTP and via the ARPANET were able to fix this fragmentation, effectively creating the Internet. We believe that it is time to do the same for the new generation of Internet communication and team collaboration tools.
Matrix.org solves this problem. Matrix.org is an initiative established so that any user (people, machines, organizations, teams) can securely publish their data into a digital room online and share it with whomever they designate. The Matrix.org project is relatively new but has a vibrant open source community and nearly half a million active users on the system today and growing.
Vector bridges its users and chat rooms to any Matrix-bridged apps, like IRC and Slack, and any Matrix-compliant clients. It leverages all Matrix integrations. Because we’ve taken what we believe is the path to sustainability and fastest growth, Vector is an entry point to a global, and fully open, ecosystem.
Information ownership is a right.
We stand behind the idea that all of us should have the right to control our online data and that sharing this data is a choice. We will not contribute to the ever growing belief that simply because something is free that by default you should give up your right to privacy.
Vector is a fully decentralized system, allowing anyone to run their own server in order to keep control over their data, and with the ability to provide an end-to-end encrypted service coming in our next release. Privacy and data ownership is critical to us.
As popular social networks have become an entry point for our daily lives and activities, their tendency to strip us of these privacies without due notice has created a sort of privacy-fatigue. Thanks to its decentralized architecture inherited from Matrix, Vector strives to remove this concern and make privacy second-nature.
You are in control.
Vector is open source, because we believe that open source software allows for faster innovation, greater flexibility and control for those willing to audit, extend code and contribute to the overall community. The code is available for anyone to see, use and prod, comment on or contribute to. Anyone can easily run a customised Vector implementation in their company today.
Good teams communicate. Great teams collaborate.
The goal of a collaboration app is to bring people together as a functioning team. That means communication and information sharing.
Because today’s collaboration tools are fragmented and disconnected, effective team collaboration is either impossible or clunky at best. If I am a team leader in a creative agency using Slack but my customer is using HipChat, we need to adopt or drop one of these tools. If I run a DevOps team with my client and they use Lync while we use Spark we have the same problem. The underlying Matrix standard links all these teams together but also gives users access to any community bridged into it, independently from the client they use (Vector, Slack, IRC or any other) or the teams they’re part of.
It is also the ability to share publicly which makes Matrix an ecosystem. Anyone has now access to experts in open rooms dedicated to a given subject (want to talk IPFS? Or know more about Vector?), or a given event (live the Decentralized Web Summit as if you were there!).
Vector also provides teams with an environment where information comes first. Increasingly more teams are distributed either geographically or across different companies, making effective sharing critical to success. Teams must be able to securely distribute, and critically find, content (chat messages, photos, confidential documents, voice and video calls) with whomever they need in a seamless way. The ability to access archives has become an indispensable tool.
Vector makes teamwork through interconnectivity and access a reality. And this elevates collaboration to a completely new level, empowering any team to run the extra mile.
A builder needs tools.
Teams working in messaging platforms need direct access to their tools in order to get the job done. If you are a developer working in a distributed team, the team should be able to collaboratively comment on commits and pull requests in that room. Productivity and bug-tracking tools such as Jira, Github and Jenkins should all be part of the conversation.
We believe that rich messaging environments are where businesses are operating today. They integrate a team’s day-to-day productivity tools deeply into their communication.
Today’s release of Vector contains a few key integrations (Github, Jira, Jenkins); with many more in the pipeline including bots, exciting new apps and a long list of add-ons from our community. Very soon, users will be able to provision them into a chatroom with a simple click.
Vector isn’t just a messaging app, it’s a portfolio of everything that a user needs to get the job done, built upon the richness of the Matrix ecosystem.
We believe that less is more.
Being power users of online collaboration, we believe that people deserve the right to use collaboration tools which actually help them remain focused and efficient, rather than drowning them in notifications and information. We mean tools that truly make it easier to tune out and back in, to allow someone to find important data instantly and to help them make better use of their time online.
We built Vector in its current form to be a solid foundation for a ground-breaking clutter-free experience. It frees users from distractions by letting them focus on content, regardless of which client they use (Web, iOS or Android): text, files, integrations, URLs, and voice and video calls (in beta on web and Android).
Now is a good time to start!
You can find Vector at https://vector.im and in the app stores.
Start with a guest account, jump into public and private chat rooms from an email invitation, an in-app invite or by directly picking them in the public directory. It’s easy to get on board!
Today Vector includes communication bridges to IRC, Slack and all Matrix compatible clients, as well as integrations to Jira, Github and Jenkins. Because we’re committed to regular updates, you can expect continuous improvement!
There is a future and that future belongs to all of us.
There is much more ahead for us. Vector in its present form is only a single step towards changing the way people collaborate. Today’s goal is to bridge the communication gap between platforms and applications and we’ve achieved that by leveraging Matrix, while also focusing on the simplicity and beauty of the content itself.
Vector is ready. Try us today.