What is Slack? Slack is a collaboration tool for groups that was developed under the leadership of Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield. It allows for synchronous communications from a variety of devices. Messages can be sent to groups or individuals
on a Slack Team. The groups are collected in ‘Channels’ and any message posted to the Channel is readable by any member of the Channel. The Channel members can also scroll back to see what messages have been exchanged in the past.
Channels are organized into both public and private categories, with the private Channels restricting members to be added by invitation only. One-on-one communications between individual Slack Team members are private. The tool allows messages, files,
images, links . . . a variety of information to be shared. Messages are searchable so past posts can easily be found.
Every Slack Team has a ‘general’ channel which all Team members are automatically a member of. Additional channels can be created as needed by the Team. The @ character can be used when writing a message to alert an individual, or all of the members of a given channel of the new message.
Slack is a cross platform solution:
- Web interface from any browser
- Apps for mobile devices running iOS, Android and Windows Phone
- Apps for OS X (10.9+), Windows (7+) and Linux
Pricing of the service is available at three levels:
- Standard $8/mo. – unlimited integrations, unlimited searches
- Plus $12/mo. – more features above Standard
I have been using the Free account for a few months now and find it to be extremely useful. The Free account is limited to browsing and searching only the last 10,000 most recent messages, but that is more than enough for my use cases. I particularly like that I receive notifications on my Apple Watch when a new post has been made. It is much quicker and easier to glance at my watch instead of getting my iPhone out.
Several of us within the IEEE Central Texas Section have been using the tool and it has been very helpful in planning events. The Capital Macintosh User Group (CapMac) has recently begun using it as well. Even though I was out of town last weekend, Slack let me interact with other on the CapMac board to plan our last meeting. Once you begin to use Slack you may want to reach out to other established, public Teams. You can visit Slofile and there search their database of public Slack communities.
Slack has good information for new users on how they can get started including a brief video tour. Slack can be set up to allow any to join, allow any from a give set of email URLs to join, or join by invitation only.
- Has a Free level of service
- Supports multiple Slack Teams
- Cross platform
- Use of ‘channels’ to voluntarily collect similar posts
- Good ‘Getting Started’ resources
- Flexibility in controlling participation
- Large and growing list of public Slack Teams
- Works with Apple Watch
- Wish more integrations were available for the Free level
- no conversation ‘threads’
I highly recommend this App and service. Whether you choose to use it for your business, club or just your extended family, it is a great and easy way to communicate.
- What Slack is doing to our offices—and our minds – added 3/11/16
See my other iOS, OS X and Web Tools articles