Heard it on the developer grapevine

One To Watch: Twitter-like team communicator Flurfunk open sourced

IRC isn’t a new thing - back in the heyday of chatrooms, the protocol was almost mainstream. If you’re a developer, you’re no doubt using something similar to communicate across your team, making sure that everything is ticking over and spread the news when the proverbial hits the fan.

Whilst it is still essential for any development team to use IRC, the advent of newer approaches and tools, such as Jenkins and Git means it is in a dire need for a upgrade. At the same time, with all these components coming into play, there’s also a demand to strip back the modern client, giving it a clean web interface.

A neat little project that just been open-sourced by the team at German software firm, Viaboxx Systems, seems to be following this trend. Flurfunk (not a new music genre, but a German term equivalent to the rumour ‘grapevine’) takes inspiration from other collaboration tools while putting a new twist on things.

Within Flurfunk’s internal timeline, users can see recent commits, monitoring messages and build reports all under one roof. Aside from that they can post links and have small discussions whilst coding away. The architecture is simple enough to grasp:

From the Github home, we can see that Flurfunk is split into four key repositories. The Clojure-coded server does the heavy lifting, receiving and sending message to clients as well as acting as the storage facility.

Currently there’s one web frontend (written in ClojureScript and built through Clojure’s automation helper Leiningen), which looks basic but sleek. We can expect a Mac OS X desktop client in due course, but at the moment the team say it needs a bit of tinkering before it can be unleashed.

Also available to peruse is a Apache Camel implemented Camelbot, salvaging components from the advanced Java framework to pick up messages from a mailbox and post into a Flurfunk instance. Unlike Twitter though, Flurfunk users don’t follow each other and instead read channels, sifting out what they don’t want to see and ranking the important stuff to them.

Whilst this isn’t exactly revolutionary, we’re impressed by the move from the team and also by the simplicity of it. The potential scope here is quite huge, with the team discussing future plans, which mostly revolve around Git commit Github service hooks. Should it gain traction, there’s potential to add in Jenkins and Confluence bots, as well the standard Android, Linux and Windows clients. Aesthetically, it might be close to a blank canvass, but we could see additions such as gravatars to give it that personal feel.

We’re not sure that it has enough to displace the stable of enterprise offerings, but if enough developer’s register an interest, it could become an option for smaller developer teams looking for a For the above to happen, the team are looking for contributors to dig into the API to write clients. Why not fork it and have a look? A handy installation guide for your own instance is provided too.

GrapevinePicture courtesy of VectorPortal

Chris Mayer

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