We use Campfire chat here as it means we can work asynchronously. I can drop in and ask a question or share a link, and James can pop in later and read all the updates when he’s ready. No meetings. No one-line emails filling up our inboxes.
- It can deploy code while you’re live on stage
- It can play music
- It can add a mustache to any image and insert the result into your chatroom
You can read more about Hubot on the blog post about it.
The brilliant thing about using Hubot to carry out actions for you (rather than, for example, doing them yourself in the terminal) is that these commands get added to the chat history of the room, like any other discussion. This means that when someone makes a change that they want the team to know about (e.g. when they deploy code), they can carry out the task via Hubot and everyone will see it (and the result), instead of them having to send a separate communication. And because Campfire has mobile apps, anything you can do at your computer, you can do on the go. Nice.
Once we started using Hubot, one of the first things we wanted was a way for Hubot to store and manage tasks for us. So we wrote a script to do it.
Now, instead of James saying:
[James] We need some business cards
He can write:
[James] hubot add task Get some business cards made
And Hubot will store the task.
Later, I will enter the room, read up on the latest developments. I will see the task has been added, and maybe ask to see a list of all the tasks:
[Basil] hubot list tasks
Hubot will respond:
[Hubot] #1: Get some business cards made #2: Order an Arduino
After I’ve done a task I can delete it:
[Basil] hubot delete #1 [Hubot] Task deleted: Get some business cards made
That’s it. It’s very simple, and is obviously not suitable for large project task lists, but for the odd tasks that used to come up in the room and which were then (maybe) transcribed into a separate Google Doc that we would never check, we now have this script operating in the same place that we usually discuss work.
If you use Campfire and Hubot, feel free to grab the code and use it. We’re trying to keep it very simple, but if there’s an improvement you’d like to make, by all means fork it and send us a pull request.