It seems like the more teams I work with, the more friends and family I have, the more messaging clients I need to work with. Over the years I have been on many services including iMessage, ICQ, AOL Messenger, Google Chat, WhatsApp, Telegram, IRC, Slack, and many more. There are in fact so many messaging applications, that I am not going to bother to list them all.
Sure, you can load all of the local apps, but anybody who has tried doing this knows that you end up with a mess in your taskbar, and worse, trying to mute messages can be a real chore when you are in a meeting because you may have 10+ services that need to be silenced.
About two years ago I checked out Franz based on a some co-worker’s suggestions, and beyond having to wait for a “please pay” time out, it worked well. It can be used for free, but I ended up bouncing off of it for a few reasons. First, I have no problem paying a one time fee for something, but I have a gut reaction to monthly fees, I just don’t want to pay them. Sure I get that it may cost less than a cup of coffee, I have heard that argument many times (and probably made it myself in the past). For me though, I just don’t like coffee, and I don’t care to pay for any more monthly fees than I have to. So if you want my money, please make it a one time payment. Second, the platform became somewhat unstable and stopped supporting some of the services that worked previously. I have read that Franz is somewhat unsupported, which may or may not be true, but for what is effectively a browser wrapped into a client, it really needs to work better than just using the browser in the first place.
Once Franz stopped meeting my needs, I did consider looking back into Trillian (I don’t believe this is supported on OS X, but may look into it again), just using the browser, and both Rambox and Station popped up on my radar.
Rambox looks to work very similar to Franz, so I gave it a look, but unfortunately it also has a monthly subscription for it’s Pro use. I have read that if you do not go pro it only supports three client tabs… which if I only needed three clients I wouldn’t be looking for a management system in the first place. Again, I don’t know if this is true, but definitely something to look into if this looks to be something you are interested in.
Station has been what I have settled on for the last few months. It worked well enough out of the box that I deleted Franz almost immediately. The client setup and overall interface is pretty clean, and you can configure quite a lot. It also allows you to load multiple accounts of the same service on different pages, which is very important if, like me, you have both personal and work accounts of the same products. Most important to me, it has been quite stable for me, and I have not (yet) had any issues with services no longer being supported.
All that said, Station hasn’t been all roses for me. I’m not exactly excited about how much memory it uses, and on my older MacBook Pro, every MB of memory does count sometimes, especially during self isolation and quarantine where I am forced to have all these clients open, video conferencing software running, and all the other software necessary to keep working. A small nit pick, but the application doesn’t load the client page until you open many of them. Which results in me frequently loading up the slack page, only to find out it was not running for a few days and I have a backlog of messages to respond to. Whether you find this a feature or a problem is up to you.