What is Matrix?
Matrix is an open standard for interoperable, decentralised, real-time communication over IP.
- there exists an open standard in the form of the Matrix Specification
- it's interoperable, meaning it is designed to interoperate with other communication systems, and being an Open Standard means it's easy to see how to interoperate with it
- Matrix is decentralised, which means there is no central point - anyone can host their own server and have control over their data
- it is designed to function in real-time, which means it is ideal for building systems that require immediate exchange of data, such as Instant Messaging
How does it work?
Each user connects to a single server, this is their homeserver. Users are able to participate in rooms that were created on any Matrix server since each server federates with other Matrix servers. This means you can talk to anyone on any server. It also means you can host your own server, giving you control over all of your data. Self hosting also gives you the ability to customize your server to fit your needs including giving you the ability to bridge to other chat networks (such as IRC, XMPP, Discord, Telegram, etc) or to host bots.
Each message that is sent in a room is synchronized to all of the other servers that participate in that room. If one server goes offline, everyone else in the room can continue talking. Once that server comes back online it will be sent all of the messages that it missed while it was down.
Did we mention it is secure? Your private conversations can be secured by end to end encryption so the server has no idea what you are talking about.
For a more detailed introduction to this topic see https://hacks.mozilla.org/2018/10/dweb-decentralised-real-time-interoperable-communication-with-matrix/
How can I try it out?
To start chatting on Matrix you’ll need to sign up for a user account.
On Matrix a user account is associated with a single server, referred to as a homeserver. You can find a small list of some publicly-available homeservers to choose from here.
The simplest way to sign up and try Matrix out is to use Element, a web-based client. Go to app.element.io to get started - this will allow you to sign up for a new account on Matrix.org, and get chatting right away. There are also native Element apps for Android and iOS.
Don’t like web based clients? Not a problem! Since Matrix is an open standard there are dozens of clients to choose from, each built for a different type of user. Check out our list of a few popular Matrix clients and Try Matrix Now for a list of everything that’s out there.
How can I get my own server?
If you’d like to host your own server then the reference implementation, Synapse, is what you want to install. The Installing Synapse page should be everything you need to get started. There are several other servers implementations in progress but they aren’t quite ready for production use yet.
What is 'Bridging'? How can I bridge to other Services?
Bridging is our term for connecting Matrix to other services. You can connect Matrix to chat systems such as IRC, Slack, Telegram and many more. Take a look at matrix.org/bridges/ for a more complete list.