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A Zulip Chat

by C. Ross Jam on July 24, 2017

I’ve actually been enjoying Podcast.__init__ for a bit now. (The Podcast About Python and the People Who Make It Great .) Recently, Tobias Macey, the host, had an interview with Tim Abbott. Abbott’s the lead developer of the open source Zulip project, which is a “modern group chat” application.

As good as Podcast.__init__ has been, this was a really interesting interview. First, Abbott had successfully exited two startups and spent some time deeply embedded in the Dropbox engineering team. So there was some interesting technical organization discussion. Second, Abbott had some very cogent thoughts on how to create a vibrant open source project. A couple of key things that stood out to me were making onboarding of new contributors as frictionless as possible and systematically externalizing his knowledge into visible documentation, as opposed to invisible e-mails.

I’m also sort of curious if Zephyr, which inspired Zulip, is still used at M.I.T. The community of Zephyr users must be vanishingly small, so I was surprised to hear of Abbott’s fondness for it. He strikes me as a true Engineer.

At my last gig, we routinely had breakouts of bikeshedding arguments regarding the mandatory, organizational discussion, group chat application. A year or two ago, as a gag, I had half a mind to propose Zulip to the company, but wisely thought better of it.

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