Over the last several months, team messaging app Slack has focused more and more on becoming a platform. Rather than building a million standalone features, the company has aimed to make it simpler for developers to build bots and third-party integrations within the Slack interface. Today, Slack announced the latest update to serve that purpose: easy-to-install slash commands.
Slash commands are simple, one-line queries that let you run a search or make a request from a third-party service–all without leaving the Slack interface. These commands have long been available on Slack, but today their installation gets much easier. If, for example, you are planning a department lunch outing, you can use Foursquare–one of five launch partners for this feature–to find a lunch spot from directly within Slack by typing /foursquare lunch near [your office address]. Need to haul everyone there? Just ask Lyft to bring you a car. You can even type in commands like /lyft eta to keep tabs on how far away the car is.
Anyone who has used the GIF search engine Giphy in Slack, or interacted with Slackbot, is familiar with the basic premise: Slash commands allow users to do more without leaving the app. Today’s update should help Slack users further cut back on the time they spend flipping between different tabs and windows.
Foursquare and Lyft are joined by Dribbble, Poncho, and Blockspring in debuting the new and improved slash command integrations for Slack. These are genuinely useful features, but for Slack users and developers, they’re also meant to serve as examples. As with bots and other types of integrations, slash commands can be built by anybody using Slack’s API.
Slash commands can be installed using the “Add To Slack” button that Slack’s platform team launched in August.
In June, the company hired Twitter alumni April Underwood to head up its platform team. Since then, Underwood and her team have been focused on making third-party integrations easier to build, deploy, and discover on Slack.