Rocket.Chat Marketplace is set to launch soon but, in the meantime, we want to give you all a little preview of what’s to come! Our Marketing Lead Isabella sat down with CEO Gabriel Engel to discuss what Marketplace will bring to the table and how it will fit into the platform’s wider aims going forward.
So, first things first Gabriel, what is Marketplace?
Rocket.Chat Marketplace will be a central space for all Rocket.Chat apps to be browsed and downloaded. Apps will be additional features that will facilitate the customization of Rocket.Chat, so that it can be used in its most basic form but can also be upgraded with as many apps as the user needs.
The goal for Marketplace is to make the most comprehensive app framework for the most powerful collaboration platform, which in turn ties into the wider aim underpinning the launch of Marketplace which is a move towards Rocket.Chat’s aim of becoming a fully-fledged platform rather than just a communication app.
Marketplace will be a way to offer recognition to those who continue to help build Rocket.Chat and will eventually build an economy around the community with paid-for apps.
It will help to prevent bottlenecks that clog up the GitHub repo with feature requests for the main product, limit the number of issues and merging by turning them into app suggestions instead. This will allow us to avoid bloating the main product with more features and offer users the choice to add them as needed, resulting in a leaner product which can then be boosted on demand with more features.
This will result in less friction for non-technical users who will find it easier to customize their app, and is also more maintainable for devs as the code changes less often and will benefit from auto-updates.
Where does the community fit into this project?
Marketplace will enable us to begin building an economy around our existing ecosystem by channelling community input into app suggestions, all the while involving it more directly in the process of building apps.
Marketplace will empower the community by providing a platform for sharing work and for recognition beyond simply peer-based praise. By creating apps on Marketplace, the main code will be less susceptible to change. It will also give direct access to enabling the sharing of code with others. In other words, it will encourage community sharing of code while keeping the core code itself from being modified. The platform will also help with auto-updates as each new app will be an original build and so will auto-update itself.
How will the marketplace work? How do apps make it to the marketplace? What criteria will they need to satisfy to achieve marketplace standards?
Over time, Marketplace will become a fully-fledged shopfront-style platform where devs will create an account and upload apps to the Marketplace with a degree of app review before new apps can go live. This review process will eventually become automated. Rocket.Chat will gradually adopt a hands-off approach, although some apps will be given a type of ‘Verified’ status. Once the Marketplace has enough apps and contributors charts with categories such as ‘Most Popular’ will be added.
Here’s a preview of how a couple of apps will look in the admin panel:
What were the key goals you wanted to achieve with the UX and UI of Marketplace? What makes it stand out?
The focal element of the design process has been for apps to be easy to find and to have a robust and thorough search function. Search by category will be available, and there will be a Featured section on the homepage. Product shots and feature lists will help with clarity for each app.
Offer bundles with compatible apps will also be available and will help users identify apps they tend to use together, on a day to day basis.
The apps themselves will help improve the UI of Rocket.Chat. As mentioned above, the Marketplace will empower both technical users who may want to continue contributing features while being remunerated, and non-technical users who will find it easier to customize and choose the features they wish to see in their platform.
How will Marketplace be run once it launches? How will you distribute apps?
Marketplace will emerge to the public in a phased approach, with a simpler version released first that will be open to community feedback. The best place to offer feedback is on our dedicated Forum.
The day to day running of Marketplace will be done by its dedicated in-house team who will initially review apps, and our support team will receive training to incorporate marketplace into their remit. All apps will, however, be uploaded with the contact details of their publisher made publicly available, so any app-related support will fall to the app publisher, not Rocket.Chat who will be responsible for support related to the correct functioning of Marketplace as a platform.
Access to apps will be enabled by becoming an admin on a Rocket.Chat server or by creating a developer account directly on Marketplace. Upload of apps to the store will be done by distribution from a central Marketplace server. Marketplace will be available at rocket.chat/marketplace and we plan to eventually have a dedicated apps.rocket.chat URL.
How will the RC marketplace compare to competitors’ similar iterations?
Rocket.Chat Marketplace will go beyond Slack’s App Directory as devs will be able to create new UI elements for the platform, and continue to improve it, in a similar fashion to WordPress and its constant evolution.
All of our on-premise, Cloud, or third-party hosted users will be able to take advantage of the rich extension and customization possibilities offered by apps on the Marketplace.