My initial thoughts, just trying it on desktop for starters…
- I wish they let you rearrange channels into your preferred order. They all either put them in alphabetical order or they try to sort them for you using an algorithm that doesn’t match what I would ever choose to do.
- It does seem to have a lot of features that could be useful.
- The UI has this weirdly experimental feel to it. Things like entering idle time limits as a raw number of seconds seem cheesy.
- The theme is not very nice; it’s kind of sloppy looking, and there are no options to configure it at all beyond normal/compact/cozy.
- There’s no way to add a channel to the sidebar by choice; they only seem to get added when you say something on the channel. Makes it strange to try to add a channel that you only want to observe (which for me is many many channels, so I can watch for stuff impacting documentation).
- It’s a little unpredictable where to find options. There are so many popup buttons to click to get lists of different things you can do, and some don’t seem to be in the most obvious place.
- Far, far more refined feeling UX than Rocketchat, with more options to configure.
- Multiple themes to choose from, with more available online. Plus the ability to import color settings from Slack.
- You can choose whether the channel panel is fixed width or expands to the width of your window.
- Supports using markdown in messages for formatting purposes.
- The guided “getting started and set up” process is nicely done.
- Option to flag individual lines of chat for follow-up; they show up in a special list you can review later. This is AWESOME for me, since I have to use info from chat for writing work regularly.
- Doesn’t let you see a sidebar listing channel members; you have to open a popup, and that doesn’t stick around when you start doing other things.
- No “show all attachments” option that I could see.
- Decent UX, though not quite as refined feeling as Mattermost.
- Offers an attachments sidebar to look at all the files shared on a channel. Mattermost doesn’t do that.
- Obviously a flexible system; it might start off meh but we can probably turn it into a nice setup if we are willing and able to invest the time to do so.
- No way to see counter of new messages per channel in sidebar unless you turn on notifications for the group messages – which means you get a notification on your desktop or phone or whatnot for every. single. missed. message.
- Generally not as refined feeling as Mattermost.
- Default of automatically shuffling channels around in the channel list by “importance” is weird. Fortunately it can be shut off in preferences.
Just based on a 30-minute quick look at everything and assuming we chose to make no further alterations to the software or theming:
I really don’t like Rocketchat. It just doesn’t feel like a fit and seems to have a lot of stuff in need of help. Options are scattered into weird places, and everything just feels thrown together like a weekend project or something.
Mattermost is gorgeous. Deeply customizable etc. I really like it and it is currently my favorite. It’s pleasant to use, offers the features I need, and seems to just work.
Matrix is fine. I could live with it. I would not love it. If we customize it and enhance it a substantial amount, it could be made into something I would enjoy using. But as it stands, I do not.
If we were choosing right now, looking just at what I’ve seen so far (and I intend to keep looking), I would choose Mattermost without a second thought. Again, initial impression only here.