Customize Zulip

Once you’ve got Zulip setup, you’ll likely want to configure it the way you like. There are four big things to focus on:

  1. Integrations
  2. Streams and Topics
  3. Notification settings
  4. Mobile and desktop apps

Lastly, read about Zulip’s other great features, and then enjoy your Zulip installation!

Integrations

We recommend setting up integrations for the major tools that your team works with. For example, if you’re a software development team, you may want to start with integrations for your version control, issue tracker, CI system, and monitoring tools.

Spend time configuring these integrations to be how you like them – if an integration is spammy, you may want to change it to not send messages that nobody cares about (e.g., for the Trac integration, some teams find they only want notifications when new tickets are opened, commented on, or closed, and not every time someone edits the metadata).

If Zulip doesn’t have an integration you want, you can add your own! Most integrations are very easy to write, and even more complex integrations usually take less than a day’s work to build. We very much appreciate contributions of new integrations; see the brief integration writing guide.

It can often be valuable to integrate your own internal processes to send notifications into Zulip; e.g. notifications of new customer signups, new error reports, or daily reports on the team’s key metrics; this can often spawn discussions in response to the data.

Streams and Topics

If it feels like a stream has too much traffic about a topic only of interest to some of the subscribers, consider adding or renaming streams until you feel like your team is working productively.

Second, most users are not used to topics. It can require a bit of time for everyone to get used to topics and start benefitting from them, but usually once a team is using them well, everyone ends up enthusiastic about how much topics make life easier. Some tips on using topics:

  • When replying to an existing conversation thread, just click on the message, or navigate to it with the arrow keys and hit “r” or “enter” to reply on the same topic
  • When you start a new conversation topic, even if it’s related to the previous conversation, type a new topic in the compose box
  • You can edit topics to fix a thread that’s already been started, which can be helpful when onboarding new batches of users to the platform.

Third, setting default streams for new users is a great way to get new users involved in conversations before they’ve accustomed themselves with joining streams on their own. You can do so on the /administration page (get there from the gear menu).

Notification settings

Zulip gives you a great deal of control over which messages trigger desktop notifications; you can configure these extensively in the /#settings page (get there from the gear menu).

Mobile and desktop apps

Currently, the Zulip Desktop app only supports talking to servers with a properly signed SSL certificate, so you may find that you get a blank screen when you connect to a Zulip server using a self-signed certificate.

The iOS app currently available in the App Store doesn’t support Google auth SSO against non-zulip.com servers; there’s a design for how to fix that which wouldn’t be a ton of work to implement. If you are interested in helping out with the Zulip mobile apps, shoot an email to zulip-devel@googlegroups.com and the maintainers can guide you on how to help.

For announcements about improvements to the apps, make sure to join the zulip-announce@googlegroups.com list so that you can receive the announcements when these become available.

All other features

Hotkeys, emoji, search filters, @-mentions, etc. Zulip has lots of great features; make sure your team knows they exist and how to use them effectively.

Enjoy your Zulip installation!

If you discover things that you wish had been documented, please contribute documentation suggestions either via a GitHub issue or pull request; we love even small contributions, and we’d love to make the Zulip documentation cover everything anyone might want to know about running Zulip in production.

Next: Maintaining and upgrading Zulip in production.