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'Slack'' Explainer, What Is It? How To Use It.

Slack is an online cloud-based collaboration platform that allows all the employees and departments to form communication groups and stay connected on a single platform. The word Slack is an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversations and Knowledge”

Slack can also be considered as a messaging or chat application for corporate and business offices. Almost all workplaces today, use some kind of proprietary communication software in order to manage communications between various teams. Slack nothing but one big chat room for the entire company with the provision for creating customized chat groups. People can not only send messages via this application but also send all kinds attachments such as documents, all kinds of media and executable files.

An overview of Slack

Slack was officially launched in the August of 2013 and by January 2015 it had acquired the company Screenhero. A two-factor authentication protocol was added to the Slack platform after a series of hacks in 2015. Slack initially offered compatibility with other non- proprietary messaging software such as IRC and XMPP messaging protocols. As of May 2018, Slack has stopped support for all such external messaging protocols. In August 2018, Slack purchased the IP assets of Atlassian’s communication tools, HipChat and Stride.

Slack has been designed to replace the email as a convenient chatting platform for offices. It stores all relevant information that is exchanged in cloud storage. The seamless nature of Slack makes it appear as a chat services, but it is quite powerful. Slack also has the capability to integrate with other applications and thus allows management of workflow from a single platform. Some of the key features of Slack are mentioned below.

  • Create teams and work-spaces- Slack allows businesses, departments and custom teams to create their own online work-space and communication channel which is established with a dedicated URL. Once the straightforward signup process has been completed, users can start inviting other members to join their channel. For small to medium sized companies a single workspace divided into various public and private channels usually suffice. Slack can also accommodate large scale corporations which can with multiple workspaces and management tools.
  • Public and Private messaging services- There are two kinds of communication portals on Slack- Channels and direct chatting with members. This is done to categorize information in a clear manner which otherwise is quite scattered in typical email inboxes, text messages or face-to-face conversations. Public channels which are created are open to all the members of the organization and contain various kinds of discussions, strategies, reports and announcements. It is also possible to create private channels which allows company executives to break their entire workforce into manageable departments. relevant chat channels for all departments can be established which can contain any kind of sensitive information or work related documents. It is also possible to have one to one communications with various team members just like regular chatting applications.
  • Integration with other applications- Slack is compatible with a wide range of popularly used office tools such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Heroku, Github, Zendesk and Zapier to name a few.

Using Slack

The first step of Slack is to create an account and sign in into the application. One can easily go to the Slack website, pick a name for the team and create their own URL. Subsequently users can also choose their own personal username and password for the chatting and messaging. The Slack work-spaces loads onto the screen and offers a brief tutorial of its various services.

The work-space consists of three elements- the public channels, the private channels and direct messaging. Private channels are not open for everyone and can only be viewed by those having the right access. One has to receive an invitation from the channel itself in order to be able to access it. Private channels are indicated by a lock icon on their screens. Public channels on the workspace can be viewed by all the members of the work-space and is primarily used for sending public messages and announcements.

Public channels are also used for conducting large scale discussions on various work processes and projects. Messages ion the public channel and automatically archived and are easily searchable. Public channels can be easily identified by the “#” sign beside their icon.

All the members of the work-space and chat with each other through the direct messaging service offered by Slack. They are the most suitable form of communication for ad-hoc and small discussions. These direct messages can only be viewed by the sender and receiver.

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