About the Zulip project

Learn about the history of the Zulip project and community!

Developers contributing to Zulip at the PyCon 2017 sprints in Portland, Oregon. Over 75 people sprinted on Zulip during the 4-day event!

About Zulip

This server is an installation of version 1.8.1 of the Zulip open source group chat software. Written in Python and using the Django web framework, Zulip has an extensive real-time messaging featureset, including both group and private messaging, conversation streams, powerful search, drag-and-drop file uploads, image previews, audible notifications, missed-message emails, markdown formatting, desktop and mobile apps, dozens of integrations, and much, much more.

Zulip was designed from the ground up to optimize the productivity of discussions and real-time decision-making. Zulip's unique model for threading topics, together with its system for tracking unread messages, make it easy to have multiple simultaneous conversations in the same stream. As a result, Zulip is more efficient than any other chat product for catching up on conversations you missed while you were away from your devices. You can read exactly the threads that are important to you, and it feels natural to follow up on conversations that happened while you were away.

Zulip's vision is to create the world's best group chat software, completely open source, so that everyone has the freedom to customize, improve, and run their own copy of this essential piece of collaboration infrastructure.

Further information on the Zulip project and its features can be found on the Zulip open source project's website and the Zulip documentation.

Zulip Community

Zulip is developed by a vibrant community of developers from around the world. Every month, dozens of people contribute code to it, and dozens more contribute bug reports, feedback, and translations. The Zulip community welcomes new contributors from any background. The project has an easy to install development environment, an extensive test suite, and over 100,000 words of developer documentation to make it easy for new contributors to contribute effectively to the project.

Contributing to Zulip

If you'd like to join the Zulip community, we'd love to have you! Please visit the main Zulip project on GitHub for details on how to get involved!

Early history

Zulip was originally developed by Zulip, Inc., a small startup in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Zulip, Inc. was founded by the MIT team that previously created Ksplice, software for live-patching a running Linux kernel. Zulip was inspired by the Barnowl client for the Zephyr protocol, and the incredible community that Zephyr supported at MIT.

Zulip, Inc. was acquired by Dropbox in early 2014, while the product was still in private beta. Zulip's beta users loved Zulip's unique user experience and continued using it, despite the fact that the product was not being actively developed. After a year and a half, Dropbox generously decided to release Zulip as open source software so that Zulip's users could continue enjoying the software.

As a result, the first time the public had the opportunity to use Zulip was when Dropbox released Zulip as open source software in late 2015. The open sourcing announcement was very popular, staying at the top of both Hacker News and the programming subreddit for an entire day.

Zulip was open sourced with the complete version control history intact because 10 Zulip users visited Dropbox for a full week to help with the technical work. The Zulip community is incredibly grateful to both Dropbox and those enthusiastic early users for making the Zulip open source project possible.

Success as an open source project

At first, the Zulip open source project was maintained with just a bit of lead developer Tim Abbott's nights and weekends. However, the community steadily gained new contributors, and has now grown to be one of the world's largest and most active open source projects. We highlight a few milestones below:

  • By the end of 2015, the open source project was already going strong with a community of dozens of developers around the world.
  • At the PyCon Sprints in May 2016, dozens of developers got involved in contributing to Zulip; a major accomplishment from those sprints was annotating Zulip with mypy static types.
  • By late 2016, more than 150 people from all over the world had contributed almost 1000 pull requests to the software, and the Zulip project was moving faster than when the original startup employed 11 full-time engineers.
  • At the PyCon Sprints in May 2017, dozens of Zulip core developers gathered and led the largest PyCon sprint ever, with over 75 developers contributing to Zulip over course of the 4-day event.
  • As of August 2017, the Zulip server project had merged over 4000 pull requests written by well over 325 developers.