Mindsets Writing

Why Slack release notes are so much fun

Slack’s Anna Pickard published a great post on Medium with insights into entertaining Slack release notes, that I enjoyed reading.

If you love their quirky app release notes as much as I do, Pickard’s post is a treat. I love Slack’s response to the usual tendency to publish very boring and uninformative “Bug fixes and performance improvements” release notes:

Because why stick to that, when they could contain real value, useful information, and the opportunity to connect a little bit, human to human, with the people who use Slack the most.

Interestingly enough, Medium also makes an effort to write fun and engaging release notes so it’s appropriate that Pickard picked Medium to write about this. Thanks Anna!

Read “A little thing about release notes” in full on Medium. You can thank me later.


Why I have a huge #writercrush on Slack

I have a growing #writercrush on the Slack creative team. I love their app update notes for the latest 2.0 release don’t disappoint. I love them. I just want to work for Slack just to have an opportunity to contribute to these notes.

Also, this style says a lot about their culture. I’m a big fan and I don’t know anything about what it’s like to actually work there.

Ok, #fanboy moment over. Back to work …

Applications Business and work

Use Slack like an animal

Slack is running a brilliant ad campaign and I had to share the two videos that made me laugh this morning. They give new meaning to the phrase “like an animal”:

The blooper video is even better:

Slack is pretty good when it comes to quirky marketing and messaging. I love their app update messages which are a big departure from the usual “Bug fixes & performance enhancements” narratives you usually see in app updates. Here is a recent example:

Applications Business and work

How sandwiches switched from email to Slack

It is starting to seems like everyone is using Slack for internal comms within teams. I have at least two clients using it and I know of a couple other small teams using it too.

(On a related note, the Slack referral program which gives you $100 in credit when you sign up expires at the end of November 2014 so click on this link if you want to take advantage of that)

I’m experimenting with how I can tie into my clients’ teams and use Slack to collaborate with them rather than our usual email+Skype+Hangouts channels. I also switched to a beta version of the desktop app which better supports multiple teams (the stable version allows you to switch between teams which also works), thanks to Richard Oakley.

I am not a huge fan of email but it works (most of the time). I do like the idea of using chat-style services for communications with clients. Email can become pretty painful when you just want to have short conversations in close to realtime. I also like the idea of not using email much for work comms too and Slack is a great service to use for that.

I had a discussion along these lines with Nathan Jeffery recently and the one thing that came up was whether it is productive to switch to more realtime comms with clients. We have become accustomed to pretty fast comms with email, calls and chat. Email still has a semblance of a lag because it is still asynchronous so you can manage expectations to a degree. If you switch to a realtime option like Slack, you risk creating an expectation that your responses will be realtime simply because the tech enables it. That means you spend all your time chatting and not enough time working. At least that is the risk. I’m not sure that shifting to something like Slack is the end of productivity. I think managing expectations goes beyond what the channel enables but it is worth thinking about.

One of the companies that moved over to Slack is Sandwich Video Inc. The story about their transition is documented in a Slack blog post which is a great read. It is, ironically, a series of emails between Slack’s co-founder and CEO, Stewart Butterfield, and Sandwich Video’s CEO, Adam Lisagor. Sandwich Video created an awesome video (as you would expect) explaining why they moved and beautifully animating their enthusiasm for the product. I had to share. Watch the video in HD. You may need to watch it more than once, it’s that much fun:

I’m curious how many people are using Slack. It is easy to look around your local bubble and think everyone is doing it and forget about the world outside that bubble.

Business and work Useful stuff

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: