Getting started with Zulip

Welcome to Zulip! Like any new tool, mastering Zulip will take some time, but once you get the hang of it, you'll never want to use another chat service again.

Zulip is designed around a few key ideas:

  • You spend far more time reading communications than writing them. So Zulip is primarily designed to optimize consuming messages; either reading them, or making an informed decision not to read them.
  • Messages in Zulip are organized into streams and topics. Streams are similar to chatrooms, IRC channels, and email lists in that they determine who receives the message. Each conversation in a stream also has a topic, which plays the role of the subject line of an email (though topics are usually shorter, e.g. "logo" or "logo design", not "feedback on the new logo design?") in that it organizes messages into threads.
  • Zulip keeps careful track of which messages and threads you've read, and always places you exactly where you left off.

Basic workflows

A few basic workflows are useful when getting oriented.

For reading

  • Use the left sidebar (or the n key) to review messages thread-by-thread.
  • Use the down arrow key () to move the cursor to the next message.
  • Use the End key to mark all messages in the current view as read (could be a thread, stream, or anything else).

For writing

  • When starting a new conversation, remember to start a new topic. Don't overthink it; the first 2-3 words that come to your mind are probably fine. Using topics may take some attention at the beginning, but after a few days of using Zulip it will feel like second nature.
  • It is totally normal to have 5 conversations happening in a stream at the same time; each on its own topic. So don't worry about interrupting; each conversation has its own space.
  • If you see a conversation where the last message was sent a few hours (or days!) ago, feel free to reply anyway. It'll be easy for everyone to see your reply in context, regardless of anything else that has happened on the stream in the meantime.

Next steps

Once you've figured out the basics, you'll probably want to: