Open source Slack-alternative reaches 1.0: Self-host ready, Slack-compatible, MIT licensed

We’re pleased to announce that Mattermost 1.0 is now available for download. It’s passed its first security audit and now includes improved tools for IT admins running in production.

Mattermost v1.0 is a self-hosted solution for bringing all your team communication to one place, and making it searchable and accessible anywhere

Mattermost is an open source, self-hosted Slack-alternative that offers modern communication from behind your firewall. We built it so users have a practical option for avoiding lock-in from proprietary SaaS services.

Mattermost mobile experience with comment threads and file sharing

The 1.0 release focused on two areas, making Mattermost Slack-compatible and Self-host ready.

Slack-Compatible

We built Mattermost so our own team would never again have our data trapped in a SaaS service. Because of this goal, Mattermost is designed to be Slack-compatible (but not Slack-limited). That means we help users move over from Slack, but without limiting Mattermost to another product’s feature set.

Some specific examples:

Theme Colors

“Can I change the colors?” is a common question the first time someone sees Mattermost.

Previous releases offered a single theme color to customize across desktop and mobile. It wasn’t enough, so now we have 18 colors settings.

Mattermost now offers 18 color settings to customize, in addition to pre-set theme options and the ability to import theme colors from Slack.

Applying the principle of Slack-compatible Mattermost lets users to import their theme color settings from Slack, which is only 8 setting, and we translate that into Mattermost’s rich set of options.

Mattermost users can translate their Slack theme options (8 color setting options) into Mattermost theme colors (18 color setting options)

Why so many choices?

Mattermost users wanted to have “dark” themes to match their personal style and the look of the other tools they use. Dark themes require more options work, so we extended the palette.

To keep things simple, Mattermost also ships with four pre-set color themes–two light and two dark–so users have an easy place to start their customization.

Mattermost web experience with pre-set and fully customizable theme colors
Mattermost web experience with pre-set and fully customizable theme colors

We think giving users more choice is a good thing.

Markdown

After adding the ability to import Slack teams into Mattermost, we thought carefully about how to manage formatting in messages. Slack has special options to format *bold* text with asterisks and _italicize_ text with underlines, and other options which were subsets of markdown formatting.

Applying the Slack-compatible principle we wanted to translate Slack’s format to render appropriately in Mattermost, but also to support the entire markdown specification, including headings, lists, tables, and a broad range of font formatting.

mattermost_react_markdown_full
Example of markdown support, rendering the markdown for the ReactJS README file in a Mattermost message.

This is an area where we think Slack could benefit from some change. Below is how the identical text from the ReactJS Readme renders in Slack:

slack_react_markdown
How Slack renders the same ReactJS Readme file in a message.

An additional useful markdown feature is the ability to conveniently create buttons and status indicators in channel headers:

markdown_icons
Buttons and status indicators can be added to Mattermost channel headers using markdown

The above header display was created with just a few lines of text:

[![Repo](https://assets-cdn.github.com/favicon.ico)](https://github.com/mattermost/platform) | [![Forum](https://cdn1.slant.co/16474-full.ico)](http://forum.mattermost.org/) | [![Feature Requests](https://cdn1.slant.co/14685-full.ico)](http://forum.mattermost.org/) | [![Tickets](http://www.wsit.me.uk/images/jira.ico)](http://mattermost.atlassian.net) | [![Build Status](https://travis-ci.org/mattermost/platform.svg?branch=master)](https://travis-ci.org/mattermost/platform)

There are fun mixes of markdown as well, like the use of heading formatting to create different sized emoticons:
One thing to be clear on markdown–this wasn’t our idea. It came the Mattermost community through dozens of upvotes.

As with many open source projects, our idea begins an alternative to a proprietary product, and over time it’s the creativity and energy of the Mattermost community that invents the future.

Of course, to open up those possibilities, we need a firm foundation:

Self-Host Ready

Mattermost infrastructure is built for IT admins who want to quickly stand up a self-hosted alternative to Slack that’s easy to install, deploy, manage and scale.

Mattermost includes a web-based System Console for managing instance level configuration. This lets IT admins conveniently:

  • access core settings, like server, database, email, rate limiting, file store, SSO, and log settings,
  • monitor operations, by quickly accessing log files and user roles, and
  • manage teams, with essential functions such as team role assignment and password reset.
Mattermost System Console for IT administrators managing Mattermost instances

In addition, admins have command line tools for managing Mattermost system roles, creating users, resetting passwords, getting version info and other basic tasks.

Command line tool for managing Mattermost user roles and essential setup tasks

If you’re familiar with Docker, you can try out a single-container Mattermost instance in one line:

docker run --name mattermost-dev -d --publish 8065:80 mattermost/platform

If you’re not familiar with Docker we have a short list of step-by-step instructions to get you up and running in less than 5 minutes.

To go deeper, Mattermost install guides offer official instructions for setting up production environments as well as Amazon Elastic Beanstalk and local machine setup options with Docker, plus community installation guides for deploying on specific platforms, like running Mattermost on Cloud Foundry in Japan.

MIT Licensed

To simplify licensing, we’ve responded to community feedback and the compiled version of Mattermost v1.0 is now under the MIT open source license (instead of Apache-AGPL).

We want to make it easy for IT admins to deploy a Slack-alternative for their teams. That means talking to users, and improving the product based on feedback. The GitLab community had a strong preference for MIT, so that made the choice straight forward for us.

GitLab community preferred MIT license
Special thanks to Brian (@LongLiveCHIEF) from the GitLab community for influencing Mattermost to choose MIT licensing.

We love our users, and we’re working every day to make them a fantastic product. If there’s anything slowing down your Mattermost deployment, please let us know on the Mattermost forum.

In closing, we’re hugely thankful for all the ideas, energy and contributions from the Mattermost community that have gone into this release (and special thanks for the community pull requests from jdengTrozzLAndresJessBotapaatsio, and chengweiv5).

We’re so glad to have your interest in Mattermost. We look forward to your ideas, comments, questions and discussions.

BONUS: Sign-up for the Mattermost Insiders mailing list and we’ll send you an upcoming article on How to integrate over 500 applications to Mattermost–including Jira, Github and Twitter–using Zapier integration.

 

Updated: Added note on GitLab community’s influence on MIT licensing.