In Search for Convivial Communication

By Edouard on May 18, 2009

Since Étienne and I work remotely from France and Sweden we crafted an efficient internal communication tool based on Campfire. Check out how we work.

Étienne works from Paris, France and I work from Linköping, a middle-sized town in Sweden. We are about 1600 kilometers far away. Luckily we don’t have any time-zone on the way, but we do have day jobs, which means we often work asynchronously.

We use 37Signal’s Campfire for our daily talk.

Campfire logs everything that has been said in a transcript and that’s very convenient: it allows both immediacy and asynchrony.

For example, if I am away for a few days I can look through Campfire’s transcripts when I come back and see what Étienne did and what were his blocks and problems.

Since I see every details on the transcript, I don’t need to ask him anything. It’s a great time saver.

In the same handy fashion I can ask a question to Étienne on Campfire while he’s away. He will answer me the next time he logs in, even if I am not logged in myself.

On top of that we run a few notification scripts shaped to our needs.

Revision control system notifications

We use Git for our code versioning. Every time we push code to our repository a notification message is displayed on our Campfire chat room.

This is great for awareness and to discuss about code changes.

This is really an easy script, but we’ve open sourced it.

Issue tracking system notifications

We use Redmine to keep track of our features and bugs.

This is a great open source web-based tool for collaborative work, but since all our attention is focused on our Campfire chat room our actions on Redmine lacked of visibility.

So we made a plugin to notify each-other of every ticket changes, edits on our internal wikis and forums.

This is very convenient, we can see how a project is going at a glance.

We made this Redmine plugin available.

Deployment notifications

This is important to notify each-other when we deploy in case something gets awry. So we display a notification message as well as a message explaining what the deploy is for.


This one is quite new and is not really usable yet. We setup our monitoring system to display alerts for some of our most critical processes.

Note: this is not an actual alert

We can also easily display monitoring graphs on Campfire to quickly show what’s wrong and discuss on how to fix it.

Here our server’s memory usage seems quite high.

That’s about it! Using this tool is really handy, and I don’t think we could work as efficiently without it.