Convos is more user-friendly than ever

Posted by Jan Henning Thorsen on 24. Nov, 2019.

Convos has always been about making the most user-friendly chat interface for IRC networks. We wanted to create the easiest user interface to keep in touch with our friends and fellow open source developers. Focusing on the chat experience is still the main focus, but we also see that it is important for our users to be able to tweak settings in a convenient way. Convos 2.00 addresses some of these needs.

You can see a list of all the changes and bug fixes on GitHub.

User administration

One of the main reasons why this is a major release, is the introduction of user roles. Currently a user can be either "admin" or just a regular user.

The first user to register will become the "admin", so that means that if you have an existing Convos installation then we try to guess who to upgrade to "admin":

  1. If the user.json file has a "registered" key then that will be used to see if you are the first to register.
  2. If you have a very old Convos installation and there's no "registered" key, then the created timestamp of the user.json file will be used instead.

This means that if you are upgrading, you might want to double check which user.json file has roles:["admin"] inside it. If the wrong user is upgraded then you have to edit the files in CONVOS_HOME manually.

A new settings page

We used to support many environment variables and/or the option to give Convos a config file. Most of these settings can now be configured on a settings page:

Picture of Convos server settings

Please do let us know if you want any other settings to be available on this screen.

Prior to version 2.00, you would share an invitation code with your users to register. This meant a shared secret that could be used by anybody at any time. Not only was it less secure, but it also made the registration unnecessarily complicated.

The invite code logic is completely replaced with an invite link in Convos 2.0. This link can be created by the Convos admin on the settings page This together with the "default connection URL" makes joining Convos incredible easy for new user. Also, the link is unique for the invited user, making your Convos instance more secure.

Picture of Convos invite and recover link

The same form can be used to generate a "forgotten password" link for existing users. But what if you're the only user, and you forget your password..? Fear not, you can generate your a recovery link from the command line:

./script/convos get -k -M POST \
  -H X-Local-Secret:YOUR_LOCAL_SECRET \
  "/api/user/[email protected]/invite"

Note that the host and port part of the URL printed to the console might need to be changed if you're running the command on a remote host. Also, "YOURLOCALSECRET" need to be changed to your actual CONVOSLOCALSECRET variable.

Desktop notifications for messages in a channel

Convos now supports getting desktop notifications for all activities in a channel, just like from a private conversation. This is incredible useful if you are in a low traffic channel, or in a channel where important log messages are posted.

Picture of channel settings for desktop notifications

Shortcut for getting to conversation settings

Tired of moving all over the screen to get to the connection or conversation settings? You can click on the icon next to the conversation name to get to the settings.

Picture of settings shortcut

(Clicking on the conversation title and the "sliders" icon still works)

Moving onwards

Next up will be the 2.01 release, where we focus on being able to share images and documents in your Convos chat. This is something I've wanted for a long, since it's very often I take a photo and would love to post it in a chat.

Can't wait to get started!