Slack wants to make it easier to build workflows with developer building blocks

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Loose Slack has always distinguished itself as a communication tool because of its ability to run applications inside and avoid dangerous context switching. Today at the Frontiers Conference company is announcing A twist on app integration with new building blocks – components that developers can build and string together into an already packaged type of workflow.

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Steve Wood, senior vice president of product management at Slack, says the new approach requires redesigning the entire platform with the idea of ​​actually accommodating these reusable building blocks. Whereas in the past, a developer could build an app in Slack, and it did what the developer wanted, these building blocks put the end user in control, and should make the entire platform more accessible and customizable.

“In this new world, we’re actually making [the platform] is further remixable, so when you install an app, you [can access these] building blocks, and you can link them together, and they can actually talk to each other across channels. you can wire them together [build] You need a workflow for the kind of work you’re trying to do,” Wood explained.

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He says the motivation behind this approach is that employees typically need to use an ever-increasing number of apps to do their jobs, and it will provide a way to string them together and build into Slack. will select the appropriate tasks inside these workflows. Instead of forcing the user to jump between apps, Slack or not, the software is doing the work for them.

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He uses the example of the Zendesk help desk ticket provided inside Slack related to an outage. This can trigger an automated emergency response workflow where a pager duty alert goes out, a Zoom meeting is automatically initiated with a group of key people, emergency response checklists are pulled from the box, and notes are tracked. A document is opened for in Google Docs. accident.

The tool itself is an interface for developers to create functions and triggers, which developers can build into a new Slack command line interface (CLI). Trigger starts a function from which the work flows. These can then be saved as an individual app or block, or developers can string together multiple blocks.

Angela Aschenden, an analyst at CCS Insight who covers workflow transformation, says companies already using Slack integration in conjunction with the workflow builder tools in Slack should love this update.

“The new capabilities are designed to accelerate the app and workflow creation process, close the gaps between different parts of the process, and make it easier for everyone – both technical and non-technical users – to create workflows. , and also to make it easier to share and consume those workflows on a day-to-day basis. The goal is to allow employees to use workflows in ad-hoc or individual processes as well as in more well-defined team processes, Ashenden explained.

Wayne Kurtzman, an analyst at IDC who looks at the social and collaboration space, says the building block concept isn’t necessarily new, but it’s one of the ways Slack can be viewed as a place to process workflows inside an organization. can make it more widely attractive and allow it to move forward. pure communication.

“Slack Always Has Been” [integration] functionality, and the trick was making it as simple as the building blocks. Combine ease of use and reuse with people’s increased understanding of automation, and I expect this feature to be widely used,” he said.

Woods says they’re only launching in private beta this week, but will eventually have a distribution system like Block Library or Marketplace. That is being considered now. There will also be an update to Slack’s workflow builder down the road where non-technical end users can piece together these pre-built building blocks into meaningful templated workflows.

The tools will be released at some point next year, but if these building blocks work as described, then Slack may be less about pure communication, and more about workflow and process automation, something like Which could be important as it becomes more deeply integrated into Salesforce, which bought the company late last year for more than $27 billion.

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