Slack is giving its developer platform a bit of early spring cleaning, updating it so all apps can take advantage of the same capabilities. On Tuesday, the productivity and team chat app provider announced that whether you’re creating custom integrations or apps for public distribution, there’s now a single developmental path that gives you complete access to the Slack platform.
Until today, if you were developing a custom integration exclusively for your team, there were some features you weren’t privy too, such as message buttons, threaded replies, the abilities to utilize intuitive workflows and leverage the Events API to take action around specific activities, and more. But perhaps recognizing that it could turn off developers and negatively affect Slack’s appeal to the enterprise, the company opted to consolidate these two options together and provide one set of features for developers’ needs.
“Slack is most powerful when it connects with all the tools you use at work,” remarked Buster Benson, the platform product lead. “Today, we’re making it easier for developers to integrate homegrown, proprietary systems and third-party products into Slack, and to capitalize on the rich functionality of our platform. This will simplify workflows and reduce context switching, so that users can focus on the important stuff: getting the job done.”
The company shared that under this new workflow, new apps will remain only accessible to your team by default. Apps can also be added to your Slack team instance with one-click install, eliminating the need to set up an OAuth or SSL connection. However, you’ll still need to use OAuth if you’re going to build a Slack app for the app directory.
Limiting features to those pursuing private integrations at first may seem logical — after all, you want to incentivize developers to build apps that grow the ecosystem and encourage contributions. But now, with more than 900 shared apps in the Slack directory and over 7.5 million apps currently installed, providing access to features some developers may not have had could instill a renewed creative spirit that causes companies to develop more apps, regardless of whether they’re shared or privately integrated.
By consolidating developer tools, Slack is also cutting down on resources needed to maintain its burgeoning developer platform, eliminating the need to manage two different versions. However, today’s decision shouldn’t be a surprise, as it was listed on the company’s developer roadmap, which Slack has been transparent about by posting it in a Trello document visible to the public — streamlining app development was listed as a task to accomplish in the “near term,” and now it’s finally here.
Simplifying its app development product could minimize concern that Slack would lose market share against a growing number of similar services entering the marketplace, such as Facebook’s Workplace offering, Cisco Spark, Convo, and Microsoft Teams. Bill Macaitis, the former chief marketing officer at Slack, once told VentureBeat that companies were seeing an uptick of communication not only internally, but with vendors and partners — it was becoming faster than traditional email. Along the way, brands and teams may encounter a need for additional support, which Slack may not necessarily or readily be able to provide, so having a straightforward process to build a solution is merited.