Picking up the Slack

I paused my Basecamp account last year when my team members went their separate ways and I continued on as a solo towards the end of the year. My plan was to resurrect my Basecamp account in the new year once I started building a new team.

I’m not sure where I came across Slack but I’ve started using it with a new addition to my team and it is proving to be a really dynamic team communication tool. If you haven’t heard of Slack, you’re probably not alone. It is only a few months old and it has been growing at an impressive rate due largely to word of mouth referrals. This is how GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram describes Slack in his post “Flickr co-founder launches Slack, an all-in-one messaging tool designed to kill email forever”:

Slack, which has both an iOS app and an Android app as well as a Mac app, allows team members to easily track messages from co-workers but also to see status reports from across the company, by connecting to tools like SVN, Github, MailChimp, Crashlytics, Heroku and JIRA — things that would otherwise have likely remained in a separate silo or service. An API allows for almost any other service or tool to be integrated into the system as well, Butterfield said. When I thought about what I could do with my team with Basecamp and compared it to what I seem to be able to do with my new team with Slack, the one thing that is missing from Slack’s native features is a task manager. You can integrate Asana or Trello into Slack for that (for now, I am leaving task management up to each individual in my team – I use OmniFocus). We never used Basecamp’s calendars all that much (Google Calendars) although we often forwarded emails into our projects. I thought I saw something about this in Slack but can’t seem to find a way to do that yet.

Slack works really well as a team communication tool (which it basically is) and as a way to share files (the Dropbox and Google Drive integrations look pretty interesting). It will also cost quite a bit less that the $50 to $100 each month that Basecamp costs for a decent number of projects (Basecamp is a remarkable tool and worth what you pay but the exchange rate just aggravates Basecamp’s somewhat premium pricing).

What I really like is the attention to security and confidentiality concerns. Here is how they secure Slack:

End-to-End Encrypted Communication Whether you’re at your computer or on your phone, absolutely nothing goes over the network in the clear. Slack uses 256-bit AES, supports TLS 1.2 for all of your messages, and uses the ECDHE_RSA Key Exchange Algorithm. We monitor the security community’s output closely and work promptly to upgrade the service to respond to new vulnerabilities as they are discovered. I also really like how you can export your data as a JSON file/stream (not sure how to describe JSON output).

Anyway, this post was meant to be a short “I use this too, you may want to take a look” post so thanks for reading this far. If this tool interests you, definitely try it out. I’m enjoying it so far.

Update (2014-02-13): Slack is offering a $100 credit when you sign up. It is available until 15 April 2014 or so:


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