My favourite on-line collaboration tool - Slack - has just published its Windows client. Until now it was available via web browser & on mobile (I am using Android client). It sounds like a great opportunity to elaborate a bit about why it's that useful (& worth paying for).

Do we need another collaboration tool?

We already have e-mail & phones, companies do utilize IMs like Lync or Skype & in the end - the superiority of direct face-to-face communication over digital channels has been already proven like zillion times. I won't give you a direct answer, I'll provide my 'requirements' instead - what do I expect from the communication techniques I could efficiently use everyday (in the project work).

  1. It has to support async scenario: I don't want interruptions all the time -> I prefer to 'pull' questions / requests / issues once I've finished something (let's say - when my pomodoro timer has dinged ;>).

  2. Obviously peer-to-peer scenario is not enough, group collaboration are a must - groups may be both ad-hoc & permanent.

  3. As we work on several "threads" / "topics" - I want communication organized within "channels" focused around these topics. Such "tagging" would make people able to join just the discussion they are currently interested in & it will prevent chaos.

  4. I want the history of communication persistent, searchable & navigable through - this way I can "update" myself as frequently as I need to. Activity log, notifications for mentions, etc.

  5. I want to share conveniently typical artifacts we share on the daily basis: code / script snippets (with a proper syntax highlighting & formatting!), sometimes screenshots or text files (logs, configs, etc.).

  6. If it works only within local enterprise domain, it's useless - I should have full access wherever I am (yes, unrestricted mobile access is a must - YES, I want to do some work remotely - in any place I prefer).

  7. Minimum friction, minimum delay, minimum latency - using it has to be smooth experience: a pleasure, not a burden.

"Cool, not we don't need to talk at all"

Neither e-mail, IM, phone nor direct communication fulfill those needs above. Slack does. Obviously, I don't want to use such a collaboration tool to substitute all the communication:

  • if we can meet without interruption ...
  • if there's just too much to talk about / get through ...
  • if we need a brainstorming session ...
  • if we already know that there's a big difference in opinions ...

... then it's still much better to talk directly (& document the findings afterwards).

Let's Slack together

Slack rocks. Obviously it's not the only one of the kind - there are some recognized alternatives

but even if Slack is one of the most expensive, its ease of use & overall convenience (not just a result of ergonomy, but NUMEROUS integration with 3rd party tools / services - list) makes it my favourite collab tool.

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