Developer communities on Gitter

This week we welcomed our 15,000th public community on Gitter and with our 1 year anniversary coming up next month, thought it would be as good a time as any to share some of our progress.

We set out to create not only a better way for developers to communicate, but a place where we could come together as individuals, as teams and as communities to build better software.

For communities, we wanted to create a better experience than IRC.
We wanted to stop missing messages while we were away without having to run a bouncer, we wanted searchable message history, we wanted to be connected on our mobiles and to be notified appropriately. We wanted a simpler, richer user interface that supported features we take for granted in our day to day lives, like syntax highlighting and integration into the tools we use every day. Most importantly, we wanted participative communities where we could join rooms and not just see a list of people joining and leaving, but to be able to get answers to our questions and interact with our peers.

Gitter is becoming just that. Over the course of the year, thousands of popular open source communities have signed up to provide a one-click link to allow anyone with a GitHub account to easily participate in the conversation. Our rooms are ridiculously simple to create; just sign in, pick a GitHub repository you own and you’ve got a room. Our badger will even add a little badge on your GitHub readme page via a pull request.

Built for developers

We focused entirely on building a better product for developers. We first shipped with our support for markdown, including syntax highlighting for your code and deep integration with GitHub issues and commits.

Yes, that’s TJ’s code.

We’ve continued to improve the product with this ethos in mind. Through our API, developers around the world have contributed additional integrations and built third party apps, IRC bots and Hubot adapters. We’ve added further support for embedding content, now you can paste a gist, a CodePen or JSFiddle link into any conversation and we’ll embed it, alongside dozens of other services. We’ve built apps for OSX, iOS, Android with Windows and Linux coming over the next few weeks. Many people wanted to keep using existing IRC clients, now you can. The archives of rooms are searchable and also indexed via Google, helping you find the answers you need. Many people wanted to create rooms that didn’t neccessarily match up to a GitHub repository, and so we allowed for the creation of custom channels.

These types of features are key to our DNA and we are constantly thinking how we can improve the product for developers, but at the same time keeping it simple.

One network

The other principle ethos to our approach is how we view the network. Unlike team-centric solutions we have a single, interconnected network. We believe this is how people really talk, not just within the walls of a team but across multiple boundaries be those companies, teams, projects or amongst individuals.

A visualisation of the Gitter network. Each node is a person or a room and each line is a connection between them.

This means you can use Gitter both for participation in your various communities, as well as using it amongst your private team, all in one place. Over the next few months we will be working on allowing non-GitHub identities to join conversations as not everyone who participates in building software is necessarily a developer. Rest assured this does not change our focus on developers, but rather aims to include others in the discussions.

With nearly 60,000 developers on Gitter, the network is only getting stronger and more connected. Why not start your own community or explore the thousands we already have.

We remain committed to building the best developer community experience, if there’s anything we can do better feel free to drop into our own community and let us know.

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