Useful new features: @all and @here

Posted by Frank Wiles on 21 April 2014

One of the features we've been meaning to implement for a long time was supporting the common chat idioms of @all and @here. These are useful when wanting to draw attention to everyone who is a member of the channel in the case of @all or all of the currently online users with @here.

They work like this, if you say things like:

Hey @all, I think our site is down. Is anyone working on it?

@all FYI I got some bad chinese food last night and I'm going to be working from home today

Grove notices the @all and sends an alert to every member of the room. This includes desktop notifications for web users and emails for those users offline.

Sometimes however, you only want to bug the people who are online in the cases like:

Yo @here standup meeting is starting in the Fahrvergn├╝gen Conference Room right now!

Hey @here, anyone want to go to lunch

In this case alerts are only sent to users who are online, so no email notifications will be sent.

If you're using the IRC interface to Grove you will need to setup notification rules in your app to alert you when your co-workers use these terms, or not if you're the kind of person who likes to eat alone!

These have already come in quite handy for the Grove Team and we hope you enjoy them. As always if you need anything please reach out to us at team@grove.io. Thanks for using Grove!


Getting all the love

Posted by Frank Wiles on 11 April 2014

We've been getting a bunch of love lately on the Internet.

First off Web Design Ledger featured the Grove logo in it's Showcase of Creative Startup Logos.

Marieke Guy wrote up a great piece titled Meet me at the Watercooler about how her team uses Grove both for day-to-day business chat as well as a virtual water cooler.

Then AppTuts included us in their list of 10 chat tools for better communication on team projects along with all of the other usual suspects.

Finally, PriceIntelligently included us in a post about personalizing your pricing strategy. Discussing our pricing page and how we name our plans after trees.

Maintenance Window for Fixes and New Features

As you might have noticed we've been able to devote more resources to Grove these last few months. While the vast majority of the work is behind the scenes boring techie stuff, these changes lay foundations for our future plans of new features.

Unfortunately part of that requires a brief maintenance window this Sunday, April 13th, 2014. We will begin maintenance around noon US Central time. There should only be a few intermittent interruptions to the web UI and IRC interfaces, however search will be down for a few hours as we correct some deficiencies that have been plaguing a few of our users.

While most of our work is still behind the scenes infrastructure some changes are visible to the end user, for example last week we rolled out desktop notifications to the web UI a highly requested feature. A few days later we rolled out an overhauled web app that cut the access and display times of the dashboard and initial channel loading by half.

During this Sunday's maintenance, along with fixing those search issues, we will be fixing an SSL certificate issue that generates errors on some IRC clients and doesn't allow for example Hubot to work when using SSL. No this isn't related to the recent outbreak of Heartbleed, we actually weren't vulnerable to that (yay!). It was a misinterpretation of how SSL wildcard certificates validate.

We're also release an updated channel export feature. We've revamped the JSON export format to be more compact and useful, not a direct copy of our standard API, but one designed for export/import purposes. This vastly cuts down on the file sizes involved and makes it more developer friendly to work with. In the past we only had an option to download a day of chat at a time, after Sunday all active Organizations will have the ability to generate and download the entire history of a channel whenever they desire.

Why Sunday you might be asking yourself? Well our metrics indicate that Sunday around noon US time is the quietest portion of the week so we'll impact the least number of customers. While it may seem odd that we're not doing this in the middle of the night, you have to remember we do have many international customers. We think it's great that Sundays are slow at Grove, it means all of our customers seem to have a pretty decent work life balance!

If you have any questions please reach out to us at team@grove.io and thanks for using Grove!


Remote working improves hiring bright talent

Posted by Frank Wiles on 10 April 2014

Recently came across this great post by Jeff Atwood (of StackOverflow fame among other things) on some reasons why hiring remote works improves your ability to hire top talent.

While it doesn't mention Grove directly, it does highlight why team collaboration tools, particularly chat, are crucial for remote working to be effective.

As you can imagine, we hear from lots of companies who are struggling with better integrating their remote team members. In our experience it really boils down to one simple concept. Simple to say, but hard to execute. You often hear in web circles people talking about a site or framework being mobile first to indicate it isn't a second class citizen or something bolted on as an afterthought.

When working with telecommuters, remote workers, occasional-works-from-home types, or whatever you call them in your organization the mantra needs to be online first.

Most, if not all, of your communication needs to happen online via one mechanism or another. As you can imagine we're partial to using chat and IRC, but even if it's simply email vs standing around the copier you'll have a better outcome.


Popup notifications

Posted by Frank Wiles on 4 April 2014

We're happy to announce we now have native web notifications!

With these notifications you will no longer have to worry you are missing a message from your co-workers if you turn your attention away from the chat window. This helps with team collaboration on projects by ensuring you can reach out to a teammate when you need them. Well, assuming they are online and not mad at you!

In most browsers, you will be prompted to allow these messages when you open any given channel. However, in Chrome you won't be prompted, instead you will see a small box on the lower left that will allow you to turn these on. Here is what that looks like so you can find it easily:

As always, if you have any trouble with these or have questions please reach out to us a team@grove.io. Thanks for using Grove!


Improved Search for non-English Languages

Posted by Frank Wiles on 25 February 2014

Recently we attacked some of Grove's core, upgrading many pieces of our stack. Most of it is boring technical things such as moving away from MySQL to PostgreSQL, our personal favorite database.

While that brought us a better stability and performance, the main new noticeable feature is with searching. We've moved to n-gram searching. This doesn't change much for English speakers and other Western Languages, however it does make Grove much more usable for languages such as Chinese and Japanese.

Hope this helps our clients across the Pacific. Also wanted to personally thank everyone for using Grove. Please feel free to reach out to me directly or the team if you have any questions.


Touching Base

Posted by Frank Wiles on 16 April 2013

After getting a few questions via email and Twitter about Grove's health and long term financial stability, we wanted to update our blog to help address these questions to a larger audience. Here are a couple of the common questions we've been getting:

So what are you working on? Haven't seen a blog post in awhile...

We've been busy these last months bug fixing and ensuring the stability of Grove in general before making any large feature changes. Obviously we needed to get up to speed on the code in general, but solving all of the Grove stability problems that would occasionally crop up was our first priority. Having said that we're very pleased to report that we have solved all of those issues.

We also have added and expanded Emoji support in Grove, fixed some problems with social registrations, and added some security features around the archive such as being able to disable your users from removing individual items in the archive.

The recent acquisition of Grove is worrisome, what assurances can you give that you'll be around next month?

This one is understandable in retrospect, but at first puzzled me. Who buys a product and then nearly immediately shuts it down? Then I started to think about Silicon Valley, acquihires, and the random things you read about on Hacker News. Revolution Systems purchasing Grove wasn't an acquihire, but a move to help save a service we had come to rely on.

As for financial stability, you don't have to worry about next month, or even next year. Grove is profitable and we see it being profitable long into the future. We're devoting additional money and resources into Grove to add new features and grow our user base considerably over the next year. Grove isn't going anywhere.

As always if you have questions feel free to reach out to us at team@grove.io.


Grove is here to stay

Posted by Leah Culver on 28 September 2012

We have some really, really exciting news - Grove is here to stay!

Grove has been acquired by Revolution Systems, a group of fellow Django developers and long-time friends of the company. Revsys will be taking over the operations of the site immediately.

What does this mean for our customers?

Like you, the Revsys team are Grove users so they understand the importance of company communication via IRC. The Revsys team is incredibly excited to be taking over a service they love so much. Their plan is to maintain Grove in the short term and grow and improve the service in the future. This means starting by fixing connectivity issues and improving site performance, and then following on with some awesome new features. We've got some big ideas, and we'd love to hear yours: suggestions are welcome at team@grove.io!

We know that this has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, so we'd like to give you a chance to love us again. So we'll be keeping all accounts free until November 1st. We'll restore normal billing at that time. We'd love for your company to remain a customer, but of course you can cancel during this time without charge. Feel free to send us any questions you may have about billing at billing@grove.io.

On a personal note, I'll be staying on as an advisor to the new Grove team. I'm incredibly happy and excited to work with Jacob Kaplan-Moss and Frank Wiles on the future of IRC.

-- Leah, Advisor and former CEO, Grove.io

P.S. - You can read more from Revsys on their blog.


Grove shutting down October 13

Posted by Leah Culver on 15 September 2012

UPDATE:Grove was not shut down and instead was acquired by Revolution Systems. We're profitable and in no danger of being shut down. See our revival "Grove is here to stay" post for more information.

Today we are sad to announce that Grove will be shutting down on October 13, 2012.

We love IRC for companies and had a great time working on Grove. However, our team has moved on to other projects and we've made the very difficult decision to shut down the Grove website and IRC service.

As of today, we've turned off billing and made all of our plans free. For our paying customers, this means you won't be billed again - or rather, you'll be billed $0 for the remainder of Grove's lifetime. If you have any questions about billing, please feel free to contact us at billing@grove.io.

If you would like to export your data, there are a couple of ways to do so. I've written a quick Python script that will export all your organization's messages via the API: https://gist.github.com/a1caaa73acb69a3807d9
You can also download any single day's chat logs by visiting your channel archives and clicking on the link to "Download JSON export file."

Please contact us at team@grove.io if you would like more help exporting your data.

Thanks for being such amazing customers. We appreciated your business and support and wish you all the best in the future.

-- Leah Culver, Founder and CEO, Grove.io


Scheduled maintenance tomorrow night (Monday)

Posted by Leah Culver on 15 July 2012

The Grove website and IRC service will be down for scheduled maintenance tomorrow (Monday, July 16) at 9:00 PM PDT.

We'll be upgrading the Redis server which will hopefully improve site reliability and resolve some connection issues. We anticipate the site will be back up and running within an hour.

Update: We're back now (and stronger than ever!). Thanks for your patience.


Scheduled downtime today

Posted by Leah Culver on 30 March 2012

Our underlying servers will be rebooted today around 4:00pm pacific time due to an upgrade by our hosting provider, Rackspace.

Be aware that this may cause IRC connections to be lost and Grove to be temporarily unavailable.

Sorry for the inconvenience and short notice.

Update: The IRC server has just been ugraded early. The web server will be restarted shortly.

Update: Reboot complete.


New APIs

Posted by Leah Culver on 28 March 2012

We've added a couple new APIs for interacting with Grove!

First, we've added a HTTP REST-style API for getting and posting data to your channels. This API is used behind the scenes for the Grove web client and now it's publicly available for everyone to use.

Check it out: HTTP API

Secondly, there's new API for getting real-time updates on Grove, which we call the Live API. The Live API is also used by Grove's own web client for long-polling to get new updates.

Check it out: Live API

By combining these two new APIs, now anyone can build their own HTTP-style application for interacting with Grove!


Tiny web chat

Posted by Leah Culver on 15 March 2012

Today we added a couple updates so that you can make your Grove web client take up a lot less space on your screen.

As our customers requested, we've reduced the minimum width and added a button to close the left sidebar.

Kind of cute, right?

(Design suggested by Jacob Krall)


Join and leave rooms

Posted by Leah Culver on 14 March 2012

Do you have a lot of channels? Only want to pay attention to a few of them?

Now you can join and leave any channels you like!

To manage which channels appear in the web client, simply click the join link in the sidebar.

This feature has existed in the IRC server for a while, but now it's available for both IRC and the web. Grove will also sync your channels across clients and remember what channels you're in for the next time.

Thanks to all our customers who suggested this feature!


Sorry for the connection problems this morning

Posted by Leah Culver on 8 March 2012

Starting yesterday afternoon Grove experienced some connectivity problems with our web client. This escalated into serious connectivity issues with both the web client and our IRC servers.

This morning we tracked down and fixed a problem with runaway cron processes. Everything is up and running now.

Our deepest apologies for this problem and for interrupting your work day.

- Leah


Site maintenance this Saturday

Posted by Leah Culver on 29 February 2012

The site will be down for maintenance this Saturday, March 3 starting at 10 AM PST.

Both the website and IRC will be offline during the maintenance. We will be back online as soon as possible. Please pardon the interruption.

We're updating our system which manages user presence information, including many bug fixes for showing who is online in channel.

Update: The site is back online now!

Hopefully presence information will now be much more accurate. If you see anything fishy, you can help us fix it by let us know at team@grove.io.