JetBrains Space - Alternative to Slack? Not Yet

The integrated team management app - Jetbrains Space, released its first public beta couple of weeks ago. A promising alternative to Slack? We have tried it, this is our opinion.

What is Jetbrains Space?

Long story short, it's basically an app, online or on platforms, that allows you to cooperate with your teammates. This application has very special attention towards developers, in fact, it is possible to manage Github or Gitlab repositories, with integrated version control you can review or correct the code that has been recently sent on the web.

In addition to being a development tool, it is also a planning tool, many features allow you to easily communicate with your team and organize many events in just a few clicks.

Features

The focus feature issued by JetBrains is to have a general platform that encompasses small features so that you don't have to do micro-management on other platforms. Jetbrains Space also promises a global adaptation, each project being completely different from the other, the needs change, it is, therefore, possible to adapt each space to your needs, to show or hide some features that you will certainly not use.

Teams & Chat

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As any collaboration tool JetBrains Space offers you to manage your team, thanks to a member system, it is possible to create or invite a member, by defining a lot of things about this person such as their working hours (to avoid notifications outside of working hours) or even the hiring date, a permission system is also available allowing you to create groups in which you can assign members, these groups having special permissions with access to certain projects.

The chat system is very simple, with a markdown system, as with the competitors, it is possible to send messages in different forms. Unfortunately during our examinations, the markdown system is very simple.
For example, it is impossible to send syntax highlighted code in a direct chat, unlike Slack for example where it is even possible to define the language to be highlighted.

JetBrains Space - Alternative to Slack? Not Yet - Scientia

In addition to the markdown, it is possible to add additional things to the messages, unfortunately, at the moment, we are limited to polls and attachments.

Absence Management

A very cool feature that I've never seen natively anywhere else is absence management. It is possible to submit an absence request with the dates of our choice and a reason (customizable by the administrators) and ask for a confirmation from your direct manager. This absence will be marked in the application and when it is triggered the member will be displayed as absent if the status chosen was Unavailable.

Meetings

If you have physical meeting rooms, it is possible to define them in JetBrains Space. With this, it will be possible to organize meetings with your team members. On the same principle as Google Calendar, you will be able to see who is available and who is not by cross-referencing each other's calendars according to the meeting dates you choose.

Unfortunately, a big negative point for remote teams is that there is no way to generate audio or video chat with other participants, let alone screen sharing.

Internal Blog/KB System

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A simple Blog System

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A KB/Meeting notes system

You can also link events to it just in case

A rather interesting system where it is possible to share the latest news and updates. This system can also be used as a knowledge base platform but no external links are possible (for example as a Gitbook on Slack where it is possible to link certain articles).

The interface

The interface is very clean, just like the competition, most things happen on the left side where we can access the different features. The interface is quite simple but as soon as we get into the code functionality of the projects, it becomes very quickly cumbersome and a period of adaptation is necessary.

IDE/Programming Functions

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Automation Pipelines

It is possible to set conditions and automation before deploying and checking

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Code Review

Review your code or someone elses

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Merging and commits

Yes you can see them here and even approve them.

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Packages

Add custom packages to your deploys, such as NPM

JetBrains Space is not for everyone, the target audience is obviously the developers. Space has a unique feature where it is possible to create projects, in which we can develop.

Among other things, it is possible to:

  • Review code, with an integrated IDE, we can review the Commit and correct it if necessary.
  • Checklist, a system of tasks where it is possible to assign a task to someone and define its details
  • Automate Outputs, a system with a kanban board, ideal for a SCRUM methodology.

It is ideal for developer teams.

Pricing

At the moment of publishing this article, Jetbrains Space is still in private beta testing; which means the pricing plans can be subject to change.

There is a free version available

There is a plan for a standalone version in which you will be able to host on your own servers, but for now, Cloud version is the only one available for users.

The plans are quite expensive for the interesting features, but it starts from $8 per user for the cheapest version up to $99 on the Enterprise version per user. It is also important that users are judged by their activity if one of your users comes to be inactive you won't be charged for having this person in the database.

Conclusion

Overall, this application is very complete, can be a bit complicated and requires a long adaptation period, however, if you work in a team, in a company based on development and programming, I think it could satisfy you.

However, I wouldn't recommend this application for a lambda audience, too complex and too targeted, and unfortunately can't be used by everyone. I am thinking in particular of projects other than development, for example, a publishing house or a blog, where the technical aspect of this application is not necessary at all.

TL;DR: No go for non-techies, but super neat for techies.

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