Meet Franz, an open source messaging aggregator

Franz makes it easy to organize all your messages in one easily accessible place.
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If you are like me, you use several different chat and messaging services during the day. Some are for work and some are for personal use, and I find myself toggling through a number of them as I move from apps to browser tabs—here, there, and everywhere.

The Franz website explains, “Being part of different communities often requires you to use different messaging platforms. You end up with lots of different apps and browser windows trying to stay on top of your messages and chats. Driven by that, we built Franz, a one-step solution to the problem.”

Franz 5 (version 5.0.0-beta.18), available under the Apache 2 license, is an open source chat/messaging aggregator. With Franz 5, you can access a variety of messaging apps in one window and simply toggle through them. The source code for Franz can be found on GitHub.

I find Franz 5 useful for aggregating my Gmail, Trello, Hangouts, GitHub, and LinkedIn messages (so far).


Who is Franz?

Franz was created by Austrian-based Stefan Malzner, a graphic designer and game creator at Bloodirony. “Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria [who reigned from 1848-1916] had a rough time following the downfall of the Austrian Empire,” Malzner says. “Why not give someone with the presumably exceptional communication skills of an emperor a second chance?”

Franz 5 supports many services, including GitHub, Slack, LinkedIn, Skype, and Trello.

Cooking up some recipes

If those services aren’t enough for you, Franz is extensible by adding plugins (called “recipes”). Franz 5's plugin architecture lets you add additional services to adapt the tool as you see fit. The recipe repository can be found on GitHub.

Moreover, the Franz community is adding new services to the platform. Adding new recipes is simple; the instructions are available on GitHub and listed here (Bitbucket, in this example):

  1. Clone/download the folder franz-recipe-bitbucket.
  2. Open the Franz Recipe folder on your machine:
    • Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/Franz/recipes/
    • Windows: %appdata%/Franz/recipes/
    • Linux: ~/.config/Franz/recipes/
  3. Create a dev folder, if you have not already done so
  4. Unzip and copy the franz-recipe-bitbucket folder into the recipes dev directory
  5. Restart or reload Franz

Instructions for adding your own services can be found on GitHub. To list your plugin with Franz 5, create an issue with the tag deploy, link to your repository, and write a short description of what it does.

For example, Daniel Weinberger added an issue for Android Messages suggesting a mechanism for including unread badge counts, which Poland's Filip Malczak has been thinking of too. His repository can be found on GitHub.

Leave the messaging to Franz

I’ve been using Franz for only a few days but already rely on it to keep all my messaging corralled in one easy-to-find place. In addition to the free open source version of Franz 5, two premium levels are available on the Franz website if you need added functionality.

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Jeff Macharyas is the Director of Marketing at Corning Community College in New York. He is a writer, graphic designer and communications director who has worked in publishing, higher education and project management for many years.

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