For years I’ve evaluated communication tools for teams and companies, because I like working remotely, and I want to make that as easy as possible. Recently I began using Slack, and since then I’ve implemented it at four organizations to great success.

The way I’d describe it is “IRC for business”, but everyone I’ve told that to didn’t know what IRC was. It uses the same metaphors as IRC, including channels. Creating a new team (which gets a sub-domain on will create two channels by default: #general and #random. The folks there know how people chat, no doubt.

It is more than just IRC, of course. They do a lot of clever things, though coming from an IRC background definitely helps. Their level of integration is very interesting, and I’ve already written webhook for custom scripts that interact with a client’s legacy order fulfillment system so that it reports to us when it is run, all by adding a single curl command. I’d be hard pressed to get that working with most other chat services.

Slack is a proprietary software-as-a-service, and that makes the company running it the single point of failure. I will be getting into that more in a later post, but it doesn’t matter at this point, because the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages of such a service. In the meantime, I’ll be going over some tips and best practices for using Slack that I’ve picked up, and hopefully my clients and partners will internalize them. :slight_smile:

Looks really slick, but being propietary Software as a Service is a big no-no. I’ll try to look for AGPL alternatives or just stick to plain IRC.

I am going to go into that in much greater detail in a future post. I have a lot of opinions on the subject. Slack has built a great product, but it is entirely possible to both emulate and improve on what it does.

I’d absolutely love to see that happen, but when we start talking about self-hosted team communications, it isn’t as simple to talk about SaaS as the enemy. If we are going to criticize it, we really need something to compare it to, and there isn’t anything like Slack right now. Well, nothing that is free as in freedom.

Awesome, can’t wait for that post!