At Postlight, Slack is one of the few tools that we use for every project. Each of our client engagements has a dedicated channel where team members post files, give updates, and debate features. We also use Slack internally to communicate announcements, plan for events, resolve sensitive issues and most importantly, to share pictures of cats.
Slack is also a platform, with rich APIs that enable developers to build their own products on top of it, that make working together in Slack easier and more fun. The team here at Postlight recently decided to build an app for Slack that helps us work more effectively, and it’s called Dash.
Gather your people
Have you ever needed to assemble a group of cross-functional people to make a decision, resolve a timely problem, or to plan for something with a hard deadline? If you’re like us, your first inclination may be to set up a DM in Slack with the necessary parties. This can quickly get confusing, especially if you have message history with those team members.
Once you do find the right conversation, there’s an issue of context. Because DMs show your entire message history within that group, it can be hard to know where each discussion topic started and stopped. This problem compounds when you want to review the discussion later.
If your group decides they want input from another person, that person can’t be added to the DM. Instead, you would have to start a new DM that includes the new party, and the message history won’t carry over. In short, the eternal nature of DM conversations doesn’t quite fit all the cases for how we want to communicate.
Dash lets you carve out a specific place in Slack for you and your invitees to have discussions that would otherwise distract from your main channels.
The slash command /dash will allow you to invite your participants to a dedicated channel that automatically archives on the date of your choosing. When the discussion is over–either because you hit your deadline or you’ve arrived at a decision–you can opt to broadcast any outcomes to other conversations in Slack, providing an additional level of transparency.
Dash reduces friction in both the creation and archiving of a channel. This provides a temporary place to communicate that doesn’t distract from the rest of your workspace. Because it’s a full-fledged Slack channel, it has all of the same features, including the ability to add new people to the discussion. And, after it’s been archived the channel becomes a repository of the history of that conversation or decision, and can easily be recalled and reviewed.
Let’s see it in action!
When to Dash
I thought it might be interesting to share some of the uses we have found for Dash channels internally:
- Preparing for an event, like a conference
- Organizing the interview team for a candidate
- Throwing a surprise baby shower for a coworker
- Resolving a sensitive HR issue
- Launching a marketing page for Dash itself (very meta)
Building with Blocks
Dash makes use of Slack’s new UI framework Block Kit. Block Kit is more flexible than previous Slack UI elements, as they allow for complex layout and interactivity. We were able to construct a complex form inside of a single Slack message with ease, which gracefully handles error states.
The Dashboard, a conversation with the Dash bot, dynamically updates and feels more akin to a web view than a Slack message.
We also utilize other Slack features, like slash commands, message actions, and dialogs. There’s hardly a feature of Slack’s platform we didn’t touch to build Dash.
We are excited to share Dash for Slack with you, and hope that you’ll add it to your Slack workspace, try it out, and let us know what you think.
Phil Johnson is a Director of Product Management at Postlight. If you have a question or feature idea for Dash, or just want to talk shop, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Story published on May 20, 2019.