As an active contributor and maintainer of many open source projects on GitHub, I struggle to keep up with the various in-progress issues and pull requests across multiple repositories and find it hard to see an overview of everything I’m involved in. If you manage or contribute to any number projects on GitHub, I’m betting you probably have the same issue.
This is because GitHub Notifications are marked as read and disappear from the list as soon as you load the page or view the email of the notification. This makes it very hard to keep on top of which notifications you still need to follow up on.
Most open source maintainers and even some GitHub staff end up using a complex combination of filters and labels in Gmail to manage their notifications from their inbox. If, like me, you try to avoid email, then you might want to try Octobox.
Octobox is designed with exactly that problem in mind. Firstly it adds an extra “archived” state to each notification so you can mark it as “done”. If new activity happens on the thread/issue/pr, the relevant notification will pop back into your inbox. You can also star notifications that are special to you.
This puts the control of when to clear notifications back in your hands, you can work through your inbox at your own pace. It also means you can always find old notifications, which, on GitHub, disappear a few days after you’ve read them.
The other problem that GitHub power users struggle with is the sheer number of notifications they get, some users are getting 200+ notifications every single day. Octobox helps to tackle this in a number of ways:
Filters: you can filter the notifications in your inbox in pretty much any way you can imagine; by repository, organization, type, action, state, CI status and reason and keep notifications from bots alongside your regular labels, author and assignees.
Multi-select: Archive and mute a whole bunch of notifications at once, allowing you to stay on top of even the noisiest repositories with ease.
Search: Combine a wide range of powerful search filters help you get straight to the notification you’re looking for and focus on just what you need, then pin your favorite searches to the sidebar for easy access.
Keyboard shortcuts: Quickly navigate, triage and manage your notifications like a pro using Gmail-inspired keyboard shortcuts for every function, no mouse required.
Octobox started life as a side project in December 2016, since then it’s grown to help over 10,000 people manage over 4 million notifications and the project has been downloaded almost half a million times by developers hosting their own versions. It’s now one of the most popular open source tools on GitHub.
Last month Ben and I announced that we’re going to start working full time to make Octobox a truly sustainable open source project that can financially support itself and the community.
You can also get the same enhancements for private repositories by donating or becoming a sponsor on Open Collective, same price but the support goes directly to the community.
We’ve also got a whole host of new features planned for the coming months, including:
Snoozing notifications until later
Gmail-style automated notification filters
Localization and internationalization
View comment threads right in the Octobox interface
Team discussions and direct user-to-user messaging
Highlighting important notifications to you
Allow replying to an issue/pull request directly from Octobox
To keep up with everything that’s going on and even contribute directly to the project, check out the open source project on GitHub.