Embracing Matrix for Enhanced Communication

As WordPress continues to evolve, so do the tools the community uses to connect, collaborate, and contribute. The shift from IRC to Slack in 2014 was an important transition, making SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. one of the primary tools for contributors’ communications and chats. For over a year now, in the spirit of the project’s continuous improvement, we (Matrix and WordPress contributors) have been actively exploring Matrix as a possible replacement for Slack, providing regular updates, and listening to feedback.

The work done so far represents an effort to bring in a new open sourceOpen Source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL. chat system that meets WordPress’ evolving needs and aligns with the project and community’s ethos. We need your help to see this next transition happen.

Progress and achievements thus far

As a first step in getting the community to test and use Matrix earlier this year, a Matrix server went live at community.wordpress.org. We enabled a bridge that allows you to follow chats and participate from either Matrix or Slack, with real-time messages showing up.

Since then, Matrix has been used by several Make WordPress teams for discussions and contributions, including successful meetings with a significant percentage of participants joining via Matrix. During this phase, insights continued to be gathered from contributors, and more enhancements were made.

Here’s what’s been achieved as part of the ongoing explorations.

Better contributor onboarding

A significant amount of time is spent on helping new and casual contributors get onboarded to Slack. At the beginning of the year, we successfully implemented a Single-Sign-On (SSO) flow to streamline the Matrix login process.

This approach provides a straightforward and convenient onboarding for contributors compared to Slack for several reasons. First, it allows them easy access to Matrix chats with their WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ credentials, eliminating the need for invitations and going through several steps required to join Slack. Second, it reduces the need to remember and manage multiple passwords.

More ways to join Make team chats

Each Make team now has its own Matrix chat page integrated into their respective Make WordPress blogs. For example, make.wordpress.org/test/chat/. This method leverages the SSO login experience to access chats. It facilitates a simpler, direct avenue for contributors to attend meetings, collaborate, or participate in conversations with other community members—directly within the familiar WordPress.org interface.

Moreover, Make teams can create dedicated chat pages with different rooms depending on their needs. This is made possible through Chatrix’s integration, which allows embedding a Matrix chat as a GutenbergGutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc. https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/ blockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. into any WordPress post or page.

Preserved chat history

All Making WordPress Slack chat history in public channels has been migrated to Matrix, ensuring no past conversations are lost. While the search functionality is not (yet) as powerful as Slack’s, efforts are ongoing to improve this aspect.

Room joining

Questions about re-joining or looking for your existing channels (called “rooms” in Matrix) have been resolved. When joining Matrix, you will automatically be in all the rooms you were part of in the Making WordPress Slack.

Additional opportunities

The open (source) advantage

Matrix provides a secure, decentralized, and real-time communication platform, encouraging a better collaboration and communication system for WordPress contributors without relying on a proprietary platform.

As an open source protocol, it aligns closely with the principles of the WordPress project and supports community-driven development, allowing anyone to contribute and fostering innovation and improvement. Consequently, this can lead to the development of new features and enhancements around Matrix and WordPress that benefit the entire user community and ecosystem.

While the WordPress project provides a homeserver for its community members, Matrix’s decentralized nature allows individuals to use the homeserver of their choice, empowering them with control over their communication environment and identity.

Bringing local communities into a unified platform

Currently, there are different Slack workspaces for local WordPress communities. Matrix has the potential to bridge this gap and allow these communities to coexist within a unified platform for better collaboration. By integrating them into Matrix at the community.wordpress.org server, the project encourages broader participation and a more connected WordPress community.

Interoperability and client flexibility

Matrix clients are applications or software that allow you to interact with the Matrix communication protocol. We have streamlined joining Matrix through the browser or chat pages, lowering the entry barrier by using pre-configured clients. This means that many contributors won’t need to start a dedicated client.

However, for those who prefer to join from a desktop/mobile app or upgrade their experience, Matrix supports a diverse variety of clients to choose from, catering to the different preferences and needs of contributors. These include feature-rich clients like Element (recommended), FluffyChat (similar to Telegram), and Hydrogen (a minimal Matrix chat client).

Known challenges

During the testing and exploration phase, we encountered and heard about a few challenges that may affect your experience. For transparency, the following are some known concerns the team is working on or has already reported to the Element client community:

  • AccessibilityAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accessibility): The Accessibility team tried Matrix and identified some barriers to usability in the Element client, as detailed in this post. While we’ve tracked down and flagged these areas for improvement with Element, not all have been addressed yet. Further community explorations, testing, and feedback about alternative clients will be helpful in identifying opportunities to ensure an inclusive and positive experience for all.
  • Direct Messages (DMs): Exporting data from a proprietary platform like Slack is difficult because of the lock-in. And, unfortunately, Making WordPress Slack private messages cannot be directly transferred to the Matrix chat. As a workaround to save your DMs, you can use a browser extension to export them, as explained in this guide.
  • Slack-Matrix feature parity: Common Slack features and integrations are available in Matrix, such as channels, direct messages, file sharing, and search. However, others don’t have a direct counterpart or work differently, such as notification handling or group pings. Matrix presents an opportunity to work on a collaborative roadmap and contribute to enhancements that help meet the community’s needs. So, if there are specific features from Slack that you find essential and would like to add, please share them.

What’s next?

Progress so far has been communicated and shared with project leaders Matt and Josepha, who encourage the community to actively switch to Matrix in replacement of the Making WordPress Slack by the end of this year.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean Slack will go away overnight. The Slack-Matrix bridge will remain active until the community has migrated to help ease the transition and minimize disruption. All Making WordPress Slack public channels and content are accessible through Matrix, where you can follow and participate in existing conversations. Toward the end of December, posting to Slack will become more limited, though the history and chats will still be readable.

We will evaluate progress over the next month and expect to complete the migrationMigration Moving the code, database and media files for a website site from one server to another. Most typically done when changing hosting companies. early next year.

How you can help

The best way to prepare for the transition is to start using the Matrix chat and get acquainted with it and its features.

We recommend using the pre-configured instance of the Element Web client by visiting matrix.wordpress.net from your browser. However, as mentioned above, there are more ways to get started. Please visit this page to learn more and choose your preferred method.

If you’re familiar with Matrix, help support fellow community members in switching. Another great way to collaborate, especially if you are a Make team repTeam Rep A Team Rep is a person who represents the Make WordPress team to the rest of the project, make sure issues are raised and addressed as needed, and coordinates cross-team efforts., is to spread the word about the transition within your teams and invite them to start running the contributor meetings from Matrix.

Your input matters

As you or your teams explore Matrix, please share your feedback, questions, and suggestions in the #matrixhelp room (available from Matrix and Slack) or on this Matrix GitHub repo.

Your input and engagement are instrumental in shaping the Matrix experience to meet WordPress’ collaborative needs. Together, we can contribute to making a powerful communication platform for WordPress and the open source community.

We know this move means changing how we chat and collaborate, so it’s natural to feel a mix of emotions, from excitement to concerns about stepping away from a familiar tool. Recognizing these feelings, we want to ensure we’re here to support and guide each other through this transition.

Thank you for your collaboration and continued support as WordPress embraces the opportunities Matrix brings to the project! Stay tuned for updates as we continue to work on the migration.


X-post: Create Tours for Make P2s

X-comment from +make.wordpress.org/meta: Comment on Create Tours for Make P2s