How do you make teamwork on large projects easier and simpler? Slack is a productivity tool aimed at answering this question, by making collaboration simpler and more productive. Slack is all about increasing transparency and streamlining workflows on everything from small assignments to giant projects with multiple participants.
The Slack Mac app works by dividing projects into ‘Channels’. Each channel has it’s own searchable history, messages, comments, images, videos and rich link summaries. Channels can be integrated with activity on Twitter, Dropbox, and Google Drive all of which you can hook-up to Slack.
Get plugged in – to everything!
Slack has an open API and actively encourages other services to integrate with it so if there’s an app out there which isn’t yet supported, chances are it soon will be. The integration of different services is what really what make Slack a useful productivity tool. The social media integration in particular is very handy for promoting your organization and projects and it’s easy enough for all members of the team to use no matter what their technical ability.
The search feature is particularly useful if you’re looking for something that was tweeted or shared but can’t remember when or where as Slack searches absolutely everything at once. This search feature is surprisingly powerful and extends to Word docs, PDFs, Twitter feeds, and even Photoshop files – pretty much anything that you’ve shared, uploaded or hooked-up to Slack. Searching is also highly customizable – you can focus your search to a specific channel, person, or narrow it down to just files you’ve either added or shared to Slack. It’s possible to filter results by recency, relevance or file type to find exactly what you need.
Fun to use
There are lots of nice touches in Slack for Mac that make it quick, easy, and even fun to communicate in Channels. For example, there’s an Autocomplete feature which makes mentioning teammates easy without having to remember their full handle or name. You can also add a variety of Emoji’s including Apple, Google and Twitter styles to spice-up your chats.
You can also have desktop notifications pushed to your desktop and mobile. This latter feature makes working between devices very convenient on Slack – you can switch between desktop, iPhone, iPad, or Android fairly seamlessly making it very easy to work on the move. The mobile versions aren’t just web versions either – they’re native for each device. Everything is kept in full sync – when you’ve read something on your mobile device it will be automatically marked as read on your laptop and vice-versa.
Built for collaboration
Slack also has its own internal file sharing tool so that you can send and receive files between collaborators on a Channel, although it’s not clear if there’s a file size limit on this. Adding files in general is simply a case of dragging and dropping, and you can make Slack sync all files with Google Docs and Dropbox to ensure backups or accessibility for those not using Slack. The same goes for cutting and pasting images or text – they can be pasted straight into Slack. The neat thing is no matter how large the group of collaborators on a single project, Slack helps keep things organized with all of the chats along the left hand column and all of the shared media along the right-hand side.
Although Slack is about transparency and teamwork, not everything has to be out in the open. You also can create private groups that are invitation only and send private messages to individual members.
Limitations of Slack
There’s very little missing from Slack for Mac but the most obvious hole is that there’s no video conferencing. If you’re working across countries or you’re in a team that’s not able to meet regularly, this might be a problem but if you’re able to meet physically once in a while, it’s not a major drawback.
Although there are no limits on the number of users or time you can use the free version of Slack, there are some operational limits. For example, you are limited to a 10,000-message searchable archive and five integrated third-party services. The free version does still allow you free access to Slack on iOS, Android, Mac Desktop or Windows Desktop though. The standard deal starts at $6 a month and removes these limits, plus adds several other advantages such as custom message retention policies, usage statistics, guest access, priority customer support and support for Google Apps for Domains. There are also Plus and Enterprise plans which offer more guarantees in terms of uptime, advanced security and more detailed reports.
Overall, Slack is a very convenient and powerful tool for businesses, teams and groups working on multiple projects. The ability to bring other tools such as social networking and file sharing under one network in particular, make it a far more organized and structured way to work than dealing with multiple apps at once.