For over two years I have been using Rocket Chat as my collaboration platform of choice. I highly recommend it to almost everybody I know, and personally have multiple instances running.

This article will reflect on the upcoming changes regarding push notifications. If you are unaware, Rocket Chat team has decided to monetize the push notifications for self-hosted instances.

Now, this change shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that this was announced back in January 2019. The problem with monetizing push notifications is the fact that they have decided to limit free push notifications to 1000 notifications per month per instance. Roughly that is about 30 or so notifications per day, which in my humble opinion, is nothing.

Luckily, the decision has been made to increase the number of free notifications from 1000 to 5000 notifications per month. We were also promised that Rocket Chat administrators will get a panel that can tell them utilization of the notifications on their self hosted instances.

As a result, this will give us a better understanding of our overall utilization and we can then decide whether or not we will have to pay for push notifications or not. The question on everybody’s mind is how much will push notifications cost?

How much for how many?

At the moment, the price for a push notifications is US$5 per month for extra 5000 push notifications per month, or US$10 per month for extra 10,000 push notifications per month. So for five dollars a month you will get 10,000 notifications 5000 for free, and 5000 paid. I think this is a bad move but on the other hand, I understand the need for Rocket Chat team to move in this direction.

On July 23rd Gabriel Engel posted this on the Rocket Chat forum:

UPDATE: We are changing the *proposed* free push notification limit from 1k/month to 5k/month. and splitting the sponsor plans into 2:

5 USD/month for extra 5k push/month
10 USD/month for extra 10k push/month
And let me please explain why I use the word proposed:

The reason we are asking servers to register now, and not imposing any limits, is exactly because we don’t have enough data about usage profile to be able to confidently determine what are the right ranges. I have already stated that admins will have had the reports about their usage and trends for months before we finally decide and enforce any cap.

Based on the feedback here, rather than just using just the statistics we collected by counting unique sources hitting the server, we tried to discard test and demo servers from the calculation by removing all sources with less than 100 push sent per month and sources that only hit the service for a short period.

Once we gather data from registered servers and you know how much you are really using, we can take the informed discussion about the limits.

We are also looking into adding to the sponsorship plans, the full encryption of the push notification messages, a feature that was only available for the enterprise license, but we need to figure out some technical details about how to do so.

I trust you understand at all we are doing is working hard to make rocket.chat grow better every day, and we do need your support to do it.

Regards,

Gabriel

Here is the link to the thread.

Another point that needs to be said here is that in order for you to run with Rocket Chat gatway you will need to register your instance as well (as said in the post above).

To make this happen go to cloud.rocket.chat, register and initiate a registration for your server (workspace).

Now go to your Administration settings and under Connectivity Services, register your server.

If for whatever reason you decide that you don’t wanna use their push notification gateway you have the option to run your gateway for free. The only problem with this solution is that you will have to build and publish your very own Rocket Chat mobile applications for both iOS and Google Android platforms.

Now, for most of us, this is not the option. The reason is simple. If for instance you wanna build and publish an iOS version of rocket chat application you will have to pay $99 a year for an Apple development license. The reason for this is that if you want to publish an official App Store application you have to go through proper channels. This will of course mean that you will have to ask each and every one of your Rocket Chat users to use a custom application. For me, this is not an option. Primarily because I’m not a developer and I don’t wanna fight my way in order to deploy and publish basically third-party application just so my users can have free push notifications.

Paying US$5 dollars a month for extra 5000 notifications is a much better solution for me personally then jumping through hoops to get a private self-hosted push gateway running on my own infrastructure.

For the past month on Rocket Chat forums, there has been a lot of backfire regarding this topic. Administrators and users alike are both furious that Rocket Chat has decided to take this route and in a way, they feel betrayed.

So the question now is what to do? If you use your personal gateway you’re completely in the clear and none of this concerns you. If you’re below 5000 notification again this doesn’t concern you. Unless you pay $5 or $10 a month for extra push notifications there is one more thing that you can actually do. You can stop using push notifications altogether. now I know what you’re thinking. You were thinking what kind of a collaboration platform has no push notifications?

Well, the truth is you don’t have to terminate completely your push notifications, you can tweak them a little bit. So, unless you are running a rocket chat instance with 200 or more users, you can set specific notifications to be pushed only if a specific user or users are mentioned.

Using account settings and default user preferences you can configure desktop and mobile notifications to be sent only to users when they’re mentioned. on a high traffic instance, this alone will help you to minimize the number of push notifications going out.

Rocket Chat "Default user preferences"

No, I haven’t completely given up on Rocket.Chat just yet and I don’t see jumping ship anytime soon. There are alternatives out there like Mattermost or Matrix but both of those platforms have positive and negative elements that have pushed me towards Rocket Chat as a platform of choice.

At the moment there is still no reason for major concern considering that even if you are going over 5000 notifications per month I think that US$5 dollars a month is really not that big a deal and probably most individuals and companies or start-up teams can afford a cup of coffee per month for their push notifications needs.

Another reason that this move might in return, give us a better, more functioning platform is also something that needs to be considered. All in all, I will keep my eyes on Rocket Chat as a platform and this specific situation and see what the final outcome will be. Until then, you’re free to comment in the comment section below or use Rocket Chat live chat plug-in visible in the bottom right-hand corner of this article (more info on that feature, here).