ChatOps for Dummies Launch

Jason Hand - April 22, 2015

VictorOps believes that the responsibility of being on-call does not end with receiving and then acknowledging receipt of an alert that may or may not be actionable. In fact, once you’ve ACK’ed an alert, the on-call experience is just about to kick into high gear. Even thinking about what comes after getting that dream-waking alert is enough to make most anxious.


A big part of the incident lifecycle involves varying methods of collaboration. The sharing of thoughts, ideas, actions, and more is critical to reducing the MTTR (Mean Time To Resolution) of an incident. You need one single place where on-call teams can collaborate, discuss what is taking place in-line with alerts and provide additional valuable context about what is going on with the infrastructure.

VictorOps is not a chat service and we have no interest in replacing the latest and greatest client out there. What we do have an interest in are the conversations and actions that take place while solving the incident. Through nearly the entire incident lifecycle, the collaboration and communication that takes place is invaluable. Priceless to what’s happening not only in the present, but as documentation in the future. What was said, exactly? What was looked at? Which commands were executed?

Wait, what? Which commands were executed? How is that provided? Is there some sort of streaming feed to what each of us are typing in our CLI (Command Line Interface)? No, my friend. That’s ChatOps. Well at least part of it. We’re “putting tools right in the middle of the conversation” as Jesse Newland of GitHub puts it. In this case, we’re putting the CLI right in the middle of the conversation.

By allowing a chatbot to take action on our behalf, we can safely execute commands, query databases and so much more…in the same space where everyone else on your team resides in conversation throughout the incident lifecycle. This not only shares the information you have at your disposal with everyone on your team, but also teaches them how to obtain the same should they have a need in the future.

ChatOps for Dummies

This week marks the launch of ChatOps For Dummies, a project I had the pleasure of working on the past several months. The book’s goal is to help explain and distill the basic concepts of ChatOps. As expected by most “For Dummies” publications, the material is designed to be easily digestible by all experience levels.

While writing the book, I was able to collaborate with a lot of great people regarding the topic of ChatOps. From thought leaders in the space like Jesse Newland to teams, both large and small, and even the authors & maintainers of the most well-known chatbots used today…they all helped me to create this resource.

The writing of this book overlapped with my efforts to assist in organizing the first ever DevOpsDays in Colorado. This combination of activities put me in a unique position where I was seeing presentations being submitted to our event around the same time that I was having amazing and interesting conversations about ChatOps with Josh Nichols (Hubot), Jimmy Cuadra (Lita), Guillaume Binet (Err), and Dave Josephsen (Lazlo).


Naturally, I encouraged them to submit for speaking opportunities. Once the selection process uncovered that 2 of them had been selected to deliver a Lightning Talk, my co-organizers and I decided to add an extra segment to the program and invite all 4 of them to take part in a ChatOps Panel.

To my great delight, they all agreed to come out and discuss important aspects of ChatOps, as well as answer any questions that the audience may have. I’m so excited to be part of the organizing team that has helped bring DevOpsDays to the Rockies and it makes me giddy that we’ll have a ChatOps panel.

I’ll have copies of the book available for all in attendance at DevOpsDays and I can’t wait to talk to more about it. If you aren’t able to make it to DevOpsDays - Rockies, I plan to attend most of the DevOpsDays events in the country and will be packing my books with me. You can also download the digital copy for free.

Looking for more on ChatOps? Check out the resource page we created on the topic - and be sure to tell me what you think!