Appreciation Post: Slack

I am a huge fan of online collaboration. Even though I am not in the IT industry, my lifestyle needs it and heavily depends on it. It was on college where I learned to use them mostly for backup and collaboration with people for academic and student org purposes. I have tried a lot of productivity apps and all that techniques just to find which ones suit my lifestyle. I have lost track that sometimes I only remember the sites I registered to when I receive promotional e-mails from them! Right now, I still use those tools sometimes for work, but most of the time for my organizations whose members live far from each other. In the Mozilla Philippines Community, we have been using MoPads (Etherpad), Google Drive & Calendar, Facebook, IRC, Hangouts and Trello to do our planning sessions without having to meet up. Imagine the clutter of having to always check multiple sites and having to bookmark a lot of links just to keep a project together! We usually talk on Facebook, then when an idea pops up we take note on a certain Etherpad and so on. We sure have a hell of a hard time backreading.

A friend introduced me this new service, Slack, which was on preview release when I signed up. It was love at first sight.

Slack is an online communication tool, which aims to bring everything together in one place. If your organization is like ours who uses a lot of different services just to work on a single project, you’ll love how Slack brings all of those in such an organized place where you can easily browse and backread.

generalMozilla communities use a lot of IRC and Slack’s similar messaging format helps a lot in getting used to the app. I can describe it as an IRC enhanced with integrations and a beautiful UI. Just like IRC, conversations can be grouped as channels, which all members of the team can join. You may also create private groups for selected individuals in the team. Of course, there is also a direct messaging feature to communicate individually.

emojiFor the emoticons, it has a handy command guide so you don’t need to memorize anything.

slackbotYou may also set Chat Responses for slackbot for your specific needs. Well, I believe you can use it more seriously than what we did on this example. :p

tagging

You can easily see if someone mentions you and you are automatically notified if it got mentioned.  You may also set Highlight Words which when mentioned, will trigger a notification. I really appreciate this Slack feature as it values how you want to be disturbed. Talk about being less busy indeed!notif

Slack has this Flexpane Menu which allows you to easily browse your starred items and your channel’s files. You can also browse through your team directory and the team’s activity feed using the Flexpane.flexplane menuYou may sort the files you see on your Flexpane according to its type:

flexplane file types

snippets

I love the snippets feature! Really helpful when you want to share some lines of code with your team.

Posts, similar to files in Facebook Groups

After uploading a file, we usually continue talking about the file in the conversation which includes a lot of segues and fooling around. After a while, you’ll notice that you already lost track of the discussion and then you waste time backreading. In Slack, uploaded files can be commented on which helps your team focus on the discussion.

file comments

Uhm, maybe your team can find something more important to focus on than us in this screenshot.

The best feature of Slack which makes it the perfect communication tool are its service integrations, which I can say is an online productivity powerhouse.

Slack Integrations

Trello, Asana, Drive, Hangouts, Github! So awesome I think this is witchcraft.

Here are some examples how to use the integrations. For Trello, you may choose to automatically post an update to a certain channel when your team board gets updated. You may also do this on Twitter, which is very useful if we want everyone to be updated on say, when someone tweets using our  team’s Twitter account. This feature is very useful in getting the team members’ attention. In Facebook or any other messaging services, we have to repeatedly remind people as our post can get lost in the thread. Sometimes we even manually send a PM to each team member.

trello integrationtwitter integration

Slack is not less than awesome on its mobile apps too! It even has a native app for Mac!

appsI am using the Android app and I’m loving it. This is the best platform where Slack’s productivity-centered notification settings prove really useful.

push notification

You can share files in your phone directly to Slack.

share

sharingSome screenshots:

Inside a channel

left menu

Left menu

menu

Right menu

team members

Team Members

starred items

Viewing your starred items

files upload

File Details

Slack has recently released its initial premium pricing and we were really worried about having to go back to our usual communicate means because of the price but boy, we are not disappointed a bit.

pricing

An average team can use it for free! Thank you Slack!

Slack solved A LOT of problems in our team and we instantly switched to this app after 1-2 hours of understanding how to use it. It is very easy to learn and use, you’ll really love how it values saving time in doing work. Our team uses it not only for serious work too (my screenshots pretty much established that, with the way we tweak with the features lol), we use it almost like Facebook Messenger. Just add Google Calendar integration and we can completely survive with just this service. Slack just launched but I don’t think they need to add more as it is already perfect in its initial release, which makes us so excited about what they’ll do in the future! I would really recommended Slack. In fact, I would force anyone I work with to use this.