One Month in: Feedback on Spectrum

After a bit more of a month of use of Spectrum, I was wondering what people think of the tool.

Personally: I hate it. Gorkem expressed my feelings quite well when he called it “mail without the advantages of mail”. My main criticism is that I can’t turn off the threaded view. I always have to click on the topics to browse through new messages. Also: it doesn’t update reliably (just had to hit “refresh” to see a new message that was written 6h ago). No native app for the desktop. I have the feeling that we have less traffic in Spectrum than we used to have in the old chat. Does anyone have statistics?

So my question is: is it just me?

PS: the UI for creating a new thread sucks: it’s not obvious that “What’s happening” is not a comment, but an input field for the title of the thread.

[original thread by Thomas Mäder]

No, it is not just you. But I hope, they will improve it soon. Regarding the native app, there is one for OS X: https://github.com/withspectrum/spectrum/releases/download/v1.0.5/Spectrum-1.0.5.dmg

So you’ll buy me a Mac? :wink:

Thomas, I also pretty much agree with your observations. The most frustrating to me is that the updates/notifications are weak; I sometimes get the pop-up notifications days after a message was directed at me. Gitter worked very well from that aspect.

I do like having threads, at least for some discussions.

If we had something that works well, like gitter, for general discussions, with the option to break-out to a separate thread when needed, it would be ideal for me.

I also think the notifications and general speed needs to improve. The three reasons I like about spectrum are:

  • Threading
    gitter didn’t work, if you look at our chat history there were many threads intercepting each other. We tried to link them with mentions somehow

  • SEO friendliness
    Spectrum gets indexed so people can find any discussions using search engines such as google. Also, there is no password barrier.

  • GitHub
    As it got acquired by GitHub I expect better and deeper integration with it.

[Rob Moran]

It feels like no-one is here and there is little activity

[Rob Moran]

The conversation-centric view discourages people from answering questions comapred to one main thread IMO

[Simon Marchi]

I would hang out on Gitter, but I don’t hang out on Spectrum. I don’t really understand how to know what is new since my last visit. Just now, there are clearly many new topics since my last visit, but they are not marked as new. I certainly don’t want to spend time clicking on all topics to try to stay up to date.

A mailing list has all advantages that Spectrum has (threaded, archived, no password barrier), but is more standard (everybody already uses emails). My ideal setup for the project would be a mailing list + gitter (or slack, or IRC, whatever).

Even though it’s not trendy, I think even a phpBB forum would be more convivial than Spectrum.

Personally I’m not a fan of Spectrum. The notifications and overall speed need to be improved (the application feels slow and sluggish). There is a decrease in activity compared to Gitter, and Gitter was better suited for developer-to-developer conversations. I feel as though everything we use Spectrum for is already handled by Github Issues.

Hmh…it seems like we’re trying to use a chat system for both chat and threaded conversation: maybe having a mailing list (in addition to the chat) is the way to go.

[Miro Spönemann]

There is a mailing list, and at least all committers should be subscribed to it:

[Miro Spönemann]

https://accounts.eclipse.org/mailing-list/theia-dev

[Miro Spönemann]

I like Spectrum more than Gitter, at least for such a busy project as Theia. When there’s so much going on I don’t want to follow all conversations anyway. With the thread-oriented structure I can choose which conversations to read without the need to scan the single thread for anything relevant.

I’m subscribe to the list and didn’t remember, such is the frequency of messages on it :slight_smile: What bothers me is that people seem to have reduced their communication in theia chat. I don’t think that was the intended consequence of the move.

[Gorkem Ercan]

I would prefer to carry these conversations to mailing list instead of spectrum as well. Can we just agree to do it?