Slack Introduces New Home Tab: Why It Matters

Article by:
Andrew Fan
5 min
The newest feature helps build and customize Slack bots to be more informative, intuitive, and interactive for users.

Automated bots, a.k.a. chatbots, have gained immense popularity as they provide a novel way for businesses to communicate with the rest of the world. These tools can reach wide audiences on messengers and automate each interaction with a user thanks to AI and other disruptive technologies.

Chatbots are nothing new to Slack, one of the most popular workplace communication channels these days. There are numerous ways to use bots for Slack and automate daily tasks without switching to other channels like email or separate websites. One can easily learn how to make a Slack bot and tailor it for the company’s custom processes.

However, apps and bots for Slack hadn’t provided seamless experiences for users until now. People had to use special slash commands with limited interactivity or remember the exact way to interact with this or that bot. The platform recently introduced new improvements to tackle the problems and took Slack’s possibilities to the next level.

Slack Announces App Toolkit

During Spec, the conference that gathered Slack developers, the Slack app toolkit was announced. This platform provides new ways to build Slack-native apps and introduced changes in the UI framework around the business messenger.

The platform received a new API: a Home tab for Slack apps. With the help of this new Slackbot tab, one can expose any information to the user. It can help people to navigate through the settings, dashboard, user-specific content and their apps.

Now, users will have an opportunity to create Slack App home and incorporate new layout blocks and elements. This is possible thanks to the Slack Block Kit, the UI framework within the Slack app toolkit that recently started to support Home tab as well as other Slack surfaces.

Home tab provides endless opportunities for any use case. For example, one can display a user’s list of ToDos and organize it in Home Tab, i.e. all the data will be clearly illustrated in one window. If your goal is to access a full schedule for the current day or any date in the future, you can install Google Calendar for Slack, which uses the new Home tab. Users can respond to the events pending or change them without switching windows or using other apps.

Google Calendar with home tab. Source: Slack platform blog

With the help of Block Kit, it is also possible to enrich your Home App with new interactive elements, like checkbox,  multi-select, or input. App users will be able to manage tasks or select from dynamic options in a couple of clicks. The list of options is constantly updated, which helps users do more in Slack every day.

Slack has also simplified the way users can start an action in the Home tab. Previously, for example, one had to type a slash command to subscribe to notifications for a repository in GitHub. Now, the app uses actions and interactive buttons to make user experience more intuitive.

The development of Slack-native apps is becoming a hot topic for the chat market players. It is hard to ignore that the current block APIs make it easy to bring almost any idea to life and integrate it into the Slack ecosystem. More and more companies turn their heads to Slack and concentrate their efforts around building Slack-native apps. In fact, there were 2000 apps in Slack directory, as of the end of 2019. And it looks like the number is going to have a steady growth in the future.

With a new robust space like Home tab, Slack is likely to attract businesses of all kinds including startups. One can use a Slack native app to reach the company’s goals and market products to an extremely large Slack user base.

Why Your Business Should Be Present in Slack

  • Slack has its own app store.
  • Slack is becoming more popular and the audience of potential buyers is growing. When Slack was first launched back in 2014, its user base comprised 16000 users. Since then, Slack has matured and become a heavyweight player in the chat market.
  • Slack recently announced that it has over 12 million daily active users that spend 9+ hours per day on the service.
  • Slack management is also ready to prove that users like their app and spend up to 90 minutes every day switched to the service.
Slack daily active users in dynamic. Source: Twitter
  • Home tab appeared to let anyone make almost any UX in Slack.
  • Low entry barrier for developers: you need to develop a website that doesn't have to be complex and write a bot to start your business in Slack.

As a result, it turns out that Slack has the potential to become a one-stop ecosystem with its own app store (such as the App Store or Google Play Store). This gives developers vast opportunities for monetization.

Home Tab API Use Case by Upsilon

We at Upsilon carefully watched the news about the new interactive elements of the Slack app. We were looking to use Slack App Home development novices to bring our ideas to life. Upsilon together with the OneBar team took the opportunity to use the Home tab API in our core product.

The new Slack update was also helpful for one more idea. We wanted to create a bot that would serve as a ToDo list and work consistently across any device in Slack. Previous functionality wouldn’t let users access the full list of ToDo tasks in one window. Users had to interact with the bot or leave Slack to have a detailed view of their tasks.

ToDoBot app with list of ToDo tasks in home tab. Source: ToDoBot

Using a brand new Slack Block-kit builder, we implemented a ToDo app right in the Home Tab. (Find out more details about the development process here.)

Slack Innovation to Be Continued

Slack is breathing a new life into chatbots and apps that used to be managed by a command line and had no interface. Now, it is easy to build interactivity into each app and create as many user touch points as you need. You can showcase your app and make it engaging and easy-to-use for the ever-growing community of Slack users.

Slack allows each business to create powerful apps and bots. Newcomers and those who already build Slack native apps have lots of opportunities to implement their ideas. As the functionality continues to evolve, we are sure that Slack will lead the innovation and remain a market leader.

If you have any specific ideas in mind, feel free to contact us and discuss your Slack bot development needs!

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