Gitter goes native!

December 07, 2020

Like proud parents, we’re delighted to announce that Gitter now has true native connectivity with Matrix. It’s only been two months since Gitter joined Element, so already going native is pretty quick work.

Matrix users now appear in Gitter like any other user, although with their Matrix ID and a Matrix flair (icon) next to their username. Likewise, Gitter users now appear as native within Matrix, but with their Gitter username, display name and avatar. For the complete lowdown, visit the Gitter now speaks Matrix!! blog post.

Why Gitter going Matrix-native matters to everyone

It’s an important milestone because bringing Gitter into Element is a strategic move to grow the Matrix ecosystem (and thus Element too). There are two parts to that growth:

Part 1: We’re excited to welcome Gitter’s 1.7M community to Matrix for the long term. Element, having acquired Gitter, aims to eventually merge Gitter into Element once Element has feature parity - and so welcome those users into Element as well. And more importantly having Gitter, the leading developer community, go Matrix-native should see Matrix become a de facto standard for open source development and collaboration.

Part 2: The far broader aspect to this is that Gitter becomes a fine example of how an existing chat platform can quickly and easily adopt the open Matrix network. It demonstrates how Matrix - as the open communication layer of the web - can deliver the interoperability between today’s fragmented and siloed communications landscape.

Monolith enterprise software stacks, social media platforms, walled garden messaging and collaboration apps, even the traditional PSTN; they can all benefit from being part of the ultimate network effect - a truly open network - yet remain entirely separate entities. For a simple analogy think about the interoperability of email and yet the beneficial competitive landscape between email clients.

Communication without walls

Native connectivity for Gitter is a proof point for how straight-forward it could be to bring interoperability between messenger apps, and other silo-busting areas of communications. It is of huge benefit to users, and one of the original drivers for the development of the Matrix open network.

Many Element customers already use Matrix as the glue to bring their various communities together; quite literally bridging their Slack community with those on Gitter, IRC or anything else - and as a way to bring the likes of Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp in from the dark penumbra of unmanaged shadow IT.

Indeed it’s worth highlighting that Element Matrix Services - our commercial Matrix-based hosting service - is running the homeserver to handle traffic between Gitter and Matrix. Hosting via Element Matrix Services (EMS) gives Gitter a fully managed, dedicated homeserver that guarantees best practices and high performance for all users - scaling all the way up to a service like Gitter!

With the EU Digital Services Act and Germany’s Federal Cartel Office looking at the benefits of interoperability between messaging services, Matrix’s connectivity and bridging capabilities could take a far broader role in bringing multiple messaging apps together at an industry-wide level.

Gitter is the flagship integration, but there’s plenty more on the way.

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