Instant messengers were once a novel service on the internet and sparked a flurry of correspondence globally. Its initial use was limited mainly to social circles where people made new friends locally and internationally by simply entering into chatrooms and lounging the finding someone who obviously had similar interests. It was fun and exciting to discuss with people who were in a different culture and geographic location. Instant messengers were not really used in the business sense as the work environment still worked with the traditional means of internal communication. However, as the novelty of the instant messengers wore off and platforms evolved, businesses began to see some value in adapting its use to foster more interaction and collaboration. No need for staff and colleagues to walk down to other offices and drive across town. They could simply discuss at length via IM. Additionally, the development of the IM services grew to accommodate the use of video and audio as well as file sharing. These were features that had a positive effect on the office work environment and thus began the corporate use of IM services. As the demand for corporate-oriented IM services grew, some platforms were able to create additional features specifically suited to the office environment and capable of fostering collaboration, enhancing productivity and stimulating innovation. One of such platform is HipChat.
HipChat is a platform that was built purpose-built for the office environment and from inception, has been focused on providing a powerful combination of group chat with the simplicity of consumer IM services. By also providing excellent administrative controls typically demanded by companies, HipChat was able to provide a platform that has been outstanding. The platform combines three very key components and these include:
- Persistent Chatrooms
- Screen Sharing
- Drag and Drop File Sharing
HipChat’s outstanding service apparently attracted the attention of a bigger company, Atlassian which acquired the platform but kept the service running and even better. The platforms boasts of users within major enterprises and organizations ranging from small to large. Some of the platform’s users include Quora, Pinterest, Heroku, HP, WIRED, TED, Fitbit and TBS among many others. The platform is built to run on virtually any operating system or device including Mac, iOS, Windows, Linux, Android, Desktop and web. The platform also integrates very well with popular applications such as Zendesk, BitBucket, MailChimp, Github, Confluence, JIRA and Jenkins among others.
Features and Benefits of HipChat
HipChat packs a lot of features and by extension, benefits that users enjoy hence its popularity among leading organizations and businesses. These features include:
- Persistent Rooms and 1-to-1 Chat: HipChat provides users the opportunity to do several things including creating rooms for specific projects or teams and even larger numbers such as a department. It also allows people to chat with each other on a one-on-one basis.
- Realtime Videochat and Screen Sharing: Team members can share screen and do video chat at any time. This ensures that they see each other and projects that sense of being within the same environment.
- Complete Chat Transcripts: HipChat saves conversation so that they can be easily retrieved and referenced while anyone who missed out on a conversation may easily catch up on it.
- Drag and Drop File Sharing: The platform makes it very easy to share files of various formats including Office documents, PDFs, design mockups and others. Simply drag and drop it and it can be easily retrieved at any time as a history is maintained.
- Instant Notifications: Users can simply get the attention of someone who ought to in a particular conversation by simply using the @ with the person’s ID. The platform also provides mobile and email push notifications to ensure notification.
- Privacy and Security: HipChat uses the same technology used by online bank, 256-bit SSL encryption. Thus users can chat and share files confidently.
- Secure Guest Access: HipChat allows users to control access such that the can invite third parties such as clients and vendors into the chatrooms but regulate what they will see.
- Emoticons: HipChat emoticon library has over 150 emoticons but users are also allowed to import theirs to liven up their chats.
Signing Up to Use HipChat
It is really simple to sign up for HipChat. All an intending users needs to do is go directly to the website homepage at HipChat.com and locate the ‘Sign Up’ button at the upper part of the page. Click on the button to open the sign-up page where a simple form is displayed with four fields for required details including:
- First and Last Names
- Work Email
- Team Name (usually the company)
After filling in these required details, simply complete the process by clicking the ‘Sign Up’ button beneath the form.
HipChat Server is also available to the public as a beta product now. This is actually a Premium version of the platform’s HipChat Plus for VMWare, VirtualBox and Amazon Web Services. Features included within this platform include support for five native apps, 1-to-1 video chat and screen sharing, persistent group chatrooms as well as enhanced admin controls.
Costs of Using HipChat
HipChat has two broad user categories only. There are no pricing tiers and complicated structures to understand. The platform accepts payments in bulk for users who may wish to make annual payment. Payment channels include all major credit cards; American Express, MasterCard, Discover and Visa.
- HipChat Basic: This plan is free of charge and according to HipChat, will be free forever. It permits unlimited users. It can be used on Mac, Windows, iOS and Android apps. It also permits group chat and IM, guest access, unlimited integrations, 5GB storage limit as well as 25,000 searchable message history.
- HipChat Plus: This plan costs $2/user/month. It permits unlimited users. It can be used on Mac, Windows, iOS and Android apps. It also permits group chat and IM, guest access, unlimited integrations, 1-on-1 voice and video calling, 1-on-1 screen sharing, history retention controls, unlimited file storage as well as unlimited searchable message history.