Open Sourcing Zulip – a Dropbox Hack Week Project

This year’s Dropbox Hack Week saw some incredible projects take shape – from the talented team that visited Baltimore to research food deserts, to a project to recreate the fictional Pied Piper algorithm from HBO’s Silicon Valley. One of the most special elements of Hack Week, though, is that often times we’re able to share these exciting projects openly with our users and our community.

At Dropbox, we love and depend on numerous excellent open source projects, and we consider contributing back to the open source community to be vitally important. Popular open source projects that Dropbox has released include the zxcvbn password strength estimator, the Djinni cross-language bridging library, the Hackpad codebase, and the Pyston JIT for Python.

During this year’s Hack Week, we reassembled the original team from Zulip (a group chat application optimized for software development teams that was acquired by Dropbox in 2014) to tackle open sourcing Zulip on an ambitious timeline. Today, on behalf of the Zulip team, I’m very excited to announce that we have released Zulip as open source software!

We took on this project during Hack Week in order to enable Zulip’s users to enjoy and improve a product they love. Zulip’s users are passionate about the product, and are eager to make their own improvements, and we’re excited to be able to offer them that opportunity. In particular, the Recurse Center has announced plans to work on the Zulip open source project.

To make Zulip maximally useful to the world, we have released it under the Apache license, and we’ve released everything, including the server, Android and iOS mobile apps, desktop apps for Mac, Linux and Windows, and the complete Puppet configuration needed to run the Zulip server in production.

The world of open source chat has for a long been dominated by IRC and XMPP, both of which are very old and haven’t advanced materially in the last decade. In comparison, Zulip starts with many useful features and integrations expected by software development teams today and has a well-engineered, maintainable codebase for those that are missing. We’re very excited to see what people build on top of Zulip.