n8n uses Mattermost to automate workflows, consolidate communication, and implement ChatOps

  • Mattermost Cloud
  • Keeps globally distributed community, contributors, and engineering team aligned in a centralized collaboration platform
  • Reduced manual engineering tasks for each weekly release with workflow automation

n8n.io is a fair-code workflow automation tool built by n8n GmbH that helps developer teams work faster by syncing data between apps through built-in and custom integrations. Teams can host n8n on-premises or in the cloud while maintaining complete control of their data. n8n GmbH, which was founded by Jan Oberhauser in 2019, is headquartered in Berlin. In April 2021, the company closed a $12 million Series A round led by Felicis Ventures, with participation from Sequoia Capital, firstminute Capital, and Harpoon Ventures.

Defragmenting communication for a global team while increasing visibility

As a fair-code project, n8n’s engineering team works with contributors from the community to improve its software. To make the most out of this collaboration and help members of the community learn new things, the n8n team believes that it’s important to keep development discussions public. Unfortunately, these discussions were scattered across a number of different mediums — some of which were not available on the open web.

“Communication with the community happened via GitHub Issues, a community forum, and sometimes email,” explains Harshil Agrawal, junior developer advocate at n8n. “Once our internal team grew, we knew we needed a dedicated communication platform.”

At the same time, n8n was forced to rapidly transition to remote work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic — like countless other businesses. Right away, it was clear that they needed to strengthen their communication and collaboration capabilities to succeed in this new landscape.

“We had colleagues working from different parts of the world,” Agrawal continues. “It quickly became evident that we needed a central platform where everyone could collaborate effectively.”

A feature-rich platform that’s intuitive by design

As n8n started looking for a solution to these challenges, they began narrowing down their requirements. The right platform would support real-time communication and the ability to share code and files. It would also be easy to use and easy and inexpensive to administer, with no messaging or user restrictions.

After researching their options, the n8n team ultimately decided that Mattermost, the open source developer collaboration solution, was most capable of meeting its needs.

With Mattermost, n8n has a powerful developer collaboration platform that enables them to collaborate effectively both in real time and asynchronously.

“We use Mattermost to communicate within the team and share our successes and learnings with each other and our community,” Agrawal says. “We have different channels — like Town Square, Engineering, Developer Relations, Success, and Off-Topic — each with their own purpose.”

Increasing productivity by using ChatOps and automating key workflows

As a company that builds workflow automation solutions, n8n is particularly interested in speeding up their own workflows via automation. Using Mattermost and n8n together, the n8n team has automated several key workflows to help the team recover time and accomplish more.

“Some of these workflows are triggered via Mattermost slash commands while others send us alerts on Mattermost,” Agrawal explains. “The combination of n8n and Mattermost is powerful and has enabled us to adopt ChatOps seamlessly.”

To illustrate, the team releases a new and improved version of n8n almost every week. When a new version is released, a message is automatically sent to Mattermost with two options: Release to staging and Release to production. Before the team releases a new version to the public, they release it to a staging environment and test it. If everything works well, they then push the new version to production.

“If this was done manually, the engineers would spend roughly five minutes each week — or 260 minutes each year,” Agrawal continues. “But the ChatOps practice that we implemented through Mattermost allows the engineers to do it with just a single click, saving us time.”

(The n8n team recently published a tutorial that teaches you how to create an incident response workflow. Check it out to learn how to implement ChatOps and connect services like PagerDuty and Jira with Mattermost.)

Personally, Harshil’s favorite n8n-Mattermost integration is a `pr2docker` slash command, which automatically creates a Docker image from a PR number.

“This allows the community to try out new features that are ready to be shipped,” Harshil says.

Additional n8n-Mattermost automations include the ability to:

  • Receive alerts from n8n.cloud in a channel called Cloud alerts; in the event there’s an outage, the team gets notified immediately
  • Create tickets on Linear via a Mattermost slash command
  • Get alerts in Mattermost for n8n.cloud
  • Pair members in a Coffee Chat channel for a virtual coffee chat
  • Get metrics for the n8n Level 1 course

“In a world where everyone is working remotely, Mattermost has made it simple for our team to communicate effectively,” Agrawal concludes. “The integration between Mattermost and n8n has increased our productivity and helped us focus more on what’s important.”