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Slack - cure for tension

After some evaluation of the competing tools, we’ve settled on a new messaging app to replace Skype, whose reliability and functionality seems to have diminished over the years, and whose interface is looking decidedly clunky and dated.

We used Skype for many years as a convenient messaging service when working remotely and for pushing files and links around the office. We didn’t often use the telephone facilities because at times the delay made conversation impossible. But the text chat and file transfer served us well, up to a point.

As we encountered more and more problems managing Skype on Linux, Windows and Mac, we started looking for a new product that would be economical, functional and modern. It didn’t take us long to find a messaging and chat service called Slack.

Slack is incredibly versatile in comparison to most other messaging systems. Firstly, it allows you to separate your business messaging into channels, like good ol’ IRC - so we have a channel for each client, plus a few extra for intraoffice management, coverage reporting and notifications. It runs on all platforms, desktop and mobile, making it a great way of working on the move.

But it really shines ‘under the hood’ where an Application Programming Interface (API) is available to developers, so plugins and enhancements abound. Natively, Slack supports handy tools like reminders - simply typing /remind me “Write slack implementation news” at 9 am tomorrow is enough to get Slack to pop you a notification at the allotted time - but the API allows you to plug in functional bots from other programs and services.

We immediately plugged in our PMS, and now get timely notifications of project progress, and we’re experimenting with a bot that may one day be able to answer those all-too-frequent questions like “do you have a telephone number for ….” or “what time is ….”

Early days yet, but if you need a messaging app that can connect your mobile and office workspaces, and keep your conversations on topic, then maybe Slack is for you too.

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