Looking for a better solution for team collaboration than Skype or Google Talk? HipChat is an affordable, cross-platform, cloud-based private chat service for your team or company. With group chat rooms, private messaging, file-sharing and video capabilities, HipChat is a solid application that will help your team communicate more efficiently than before.
Let’s see what HipChat has to offer and how it will help increase your team’s productivity.
To get started with HipChat, sign up at their website. HipChat is a paid service, but they do offer a free 30 day trial. You do not need to give a credit card to test drive HipChat for 30 days.
The Windows, Mac and Linux desktop apps run on Adobe Air. The installation takes only a few minutes and then you’re ready to start using the application.
The Windows app is nicely designed and seems very familiar to other chat programs. Except instead of having one buddy list window and a separate chat window, they are combined.
The tabs at the top of the HipChat window link to the lobby and to each chat room you are a member of, as well as any private chats. The lobby shows a list of available chat rooms that you can join. You will see all public rooms and then any private rooms you have been invited to. If you have the capabilities, you will also see a button to create a chat room. You can also add and manage users from the Windows client if you are an administrator.
When you create a private chat room, you can choose which users have access. Uninvited users will not see that room listed in their lobby. Double-click on a user to start a 1-on-1 instant message with him or her.
Using HipChat is very straight forward. From signing up for the service to configuring my group and adding users, everything was simple. HipChat provides a video to walk you through using the features, but I didn’t need to watch it. The learning curve for this program is basically non-existent.
The chat room and private message interface is set up nicely. It’s easy to see which user said what. The chat logs are convenient and it’s easy to go back and look through your history.
HipChat also lets you choose custom emotions to make your chats more fun. Group admins can add or remove any custom emoticons.
Settings & Notifications
There are some general settings you should expect with any chat client, like starting the app with your computer, or enabling spellcheck. You can also customize when and how you’re notified, and for what events.
HipChat also supports browser and SMS notifications.
HipChat makes it easy to share files. From any of the apps, you can upload and download files. The desktop clients have a convenient sidebar that lists uploaded files and shared links. You can access these files later because HipChat stores them until you no longer need them.
To make file-sharing even easier, you can drag and drop files on to the Windows app and they’ll automatically upload.
Built for Teams
HipChat was built for teams and work groups, making collaboration easy. It’s a better solution for groups than using other services because you have more control over the environment.
Security is taken seriously. The service is hosted by Amazon’s AWS and connections are always sent using SSL encryption. Group administrators have more control over the chat environment than they would with Skype, AIM or Google Talk.
You can also allow guest users access to chat rooms through the web interface or the Windows desktop application.
API & Integration
If you have a need to expand HipChat, you’re in luck because they provide an API for expansion and integration with other services. Connect HipChat with popular tools like Google Apps, Codebase, GitHub, MailChimp, WordPress and ZenDesk.
HipChat is a cross-platform chat application with a web client, apps for Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as apps for iOS and Android and the ability to chat with plain old SMS. The wide availability makes this chat service a contender among others like Trillian. Having the ability to connect with team members on multiple platforms make collaboration so much easier for large groups.
HipChat currently offers a 30 day free trial with full use of all features. They believe their service will work so well for you that you don’t have to give a credit card to sign up. After your free 30 days, HipChat is only $2 per person per month, with no minimums. You can increase or decrease users and cancel at any time. Because the pricing structure is very reasonable, this is an affordable solution for very small teams.
HipChat is an intuitive, affordable solution for group collaboration and team chats. At $2 per user per month, the pricing is very reasonable, even for small businesses and design teams. Having a private chat service that is available on any platform is a much more efficient and productive method for communicating among team members.
The only feature HipChat is lacking is the ability to have group video chats or voice chats. HipChat was recently acquired by Atlassian and is constantly being updated with new features.