Slacks motto is ‘Be Less Busy’. Slack is an app designed to bring all your team communication into one place, now its not a permanentsubstitute for talking (Yet) but when you're trying to get someones attention when they're working away with headphones in its a lot easier to reply to someone on slack than to wave your arms uncontrollably in a hope to get they will see you.
So what can it do, if it's supposed to be the be all and end all of workplace communication?
Let's start with Teams, teams are teams, they are exactly as they say they are a team is your team, your company, your group. Our team is Shape where we can talk about projects and other shape related things, but you're not limited to a single team there are other teams we can be apart of. As a developer, I’m also part of the CraftCMS team so I can talk or ask about any questions or queries I have with CraftCMS but there is a limitless amount of teams you can join but you have to be invited to them you can't just join any team at random.
Think of a channels as a group, a place where you would talk about something, for example, you could have a channel called #superimportantproject or #generalchitchat, so if you need to talk about something specific you can talk about it in it’s assigned channel, one other good thing about channels is that not everyone in your team can see them, so if you create a channel you have to invite the people you want to be apart of it so not everyone will be spammed by your talk about a project just those working on it.
Slack has the ability to be able to integrate more features by installing apps, there are hundreds to choose from ranging from tools to monitor websites, keep track of your trello cards, and even get notifications from places like github, the possibility with the apps are endless just go take a look and see what would suit your needs.
There aren't many customisable settings for slack, but there are a few, one being able to customise the theme which is the colours of the sidebar another being how messages are displayed, you can have a more clean simplified version or a more compacted version so you can get more messages on screen.
Slackbot is a built in bot that can do several things for you, it can keep notes, you can set times to remind you with messages or you can set responses to certain keywords. So if I wrote hello in to chat, then you could set it so slackbot responds with Hi Adam etc.
There are a bunch of shortcuts for speeding up communication, switching between groups and channels, the main ones we seem to use in the studio are.
Alt + Up Arrow (To switch between previous channels)
Alt + Down Arrow (To switch go to the next channel)
Up Arrow (Edit your last message)
You can see the full list here.
Is there a catch?
No, slack for the best part is free. Yes free, optionally you can choose to pay to upgrade your plan each tier, increasing its price per user, but also the amount of features it has. Personally, I don't really see the need for it since Slack's free plan is amazing anyway.