Slack adds new tools designed for developers of all abilities

Bobby Hellard

14 Feb, 2019

Slack is launching two new tools for developers to build apps within the business communication service without the need for in-depth coding knowledge.

The first is called ‘Block Kit’, which is a user interface (UI) framework to help developers do more with the information inside Slack. Its aim is to provide more flexibility and control over app message interactivity. It’s comprised of blocks, or stackable message components, that make it easy to control and prioritise the order of information.

The second tool is a ‘Block Kit Builder’, which is a prototyping tool for testing interactions as they appear in Slack so developers of all levels can see, understand and use the code. The Block Kit Builder tool has customisable templates that provide a foundational example for how to use blocks.

“The combined power of these blocks gives you the ability to deliver information in a clear, actionable way, enabling users to get more work done faster,” the company said in a blog post.

Within the Block Kit are five new smaller Blocks for sectioning, contextualising, imaging, dividing and actioning content.

In its blog, Slack highlighted some examples of developers using the tools. The first from a knowledge management platform called Guru helps people capture information as it’s shared with them in Slack. Using dividers, Guru’s “help” message now contains clearer calls to action, including an overflow menu that enables users to access advanced app functionality without cluttering their screen.

Guru example – courtesy of Slack

A second example from Optimizely, an experimental platform, has a Slack app that enables product and marketing teams to brainstorm, test and track digital campaigns. The context block clarifies which marketing campaign a particular message is referencing. In this case “Attic and Button.”

Optimizely in action – courtesy of Slack

However, what makes this interesting is that rather than offering the chance for experienced developers to build upon the platform, the Block Kit Builder will enable those less skilled or with little experience to quickly prototype their apps with customisable templates. These have the majority of the code already populated, offering a head start to budding developers.