Hotspots introduce users to important UI elements. They are an effective means of guiding users towards new features and providing context where Zulip's UI may not be self-evident.

Adding a new hotspot

... is easy! If you are working on a new feature or think highlighting a certain UI element would improve Zulip's user experience, we welcome you to open an issue for discussion.

Step 1: Create hotspot content

In zerver/lib/, add your content to the ALL_HOTSPOTS dictionary. Each key-value pair in ALL_HOTSPOTS associates the name of the hotspot - e.g. click_to_reply, new_topic_button, stream_settings - with content displayed to the user.

    'new_hotspot_name': {
        'title': 'Provide a concise title',
        'description': 'A helpful explanation goes here.',

Step 2: Configure hotspot placement

The target element and visual orientation of each hotspot is specified in HOTSPOT_LOCATIONS of static/js/hotspots.js:

    new_hotspot_name: {
        element: 'css selector string',

The icon property specifies where the pulsing icon is placed relative to the width and height of the target element.

By default, popovers.compute_placement is used to responsively determine whether a popover is best displayed above (TOP), below (BOTTOM), on the left (LEFT), on the right (RIGHT), or if none of those options fit, directly in the center of the message viewport (VIEWPORT_CENTER).

However, if you would like to fix the orientation of a hotspot popover, a popover property can be additionally specified.

Step 3: Test manually

To test your hotspot in the development environment, set SEND_ALL = True in zerver/lib/, and invoke hotspots.initialize() in your browser console. Every hotspot should be displayed.

Here are some visual characteristics to confirm:

  • popover content is readable
  • icons reposition themselves on resize
  • icons are hidden and shown along with their associated elements
  • popovers reposition and reorient themselves on resize

Step 4 (if necessary): Tweak hotspot icon z-index

Hotspot icons are assigned a z-index of 100 by default, which positions them in front of all message viewport content and behind sidebars and overlays. If a hotspot is associated with a target element on a sidebar or overlay, the icon's z-index may need to be increased to 101, 102, or 103.

This adjustment can be made at the bottom of static/styles/hotspots.css:

\#hotspot_new_hotspot_name_icon {
    z-index: 103;

Hotspot popover overlays are assigned the highest z-index within the web app of 104, so icon z-indexing should not be greater than 103.