Productivity

How to get started building apps on Slack

Resources for creating custom apps for your team (or the entire world)

By the team at SlackSeptember 4th, 2019Illustration by Giacomo Bagnara

Editor’s Note: 
As you may have heard, Slack is now a part of Salesforce! This means some of the information below is dated, but we wanted to keep it around for historical context and other good reasons. For more details on Salesforce’s acquisition of Slack, read the official announcement

 

Our App Directory has more than 1,000 apps designed to help people connect their tools and work more efficiently within Slack. But every industry and company has unique needs to meet and internal processes that tie up time. That’s where custom apps come into play.

Whether you’re a tinkerer, an office tool geek, someone who works in “ops,” a DIY techie or a full-blown software engineer, developing your own apps on Slack is the way to improve workflows and customize our software for your team. Maybe you want to create a bot in Slack to help employees book travel, or automate how welcome materials are served up to new hires. All it takes is some light technical know-how and a grasp of how Slack’s APIs and syntax interact in a variety of computer languages.

To get your wheels turning around what you can build, watch the short videos below. Then, head over to our Starting with Slack apps guide to get going.

The basics: get to know our tools

Slack’s API site should be a builder’s first port of call. It has all the documentation developers need to create their own apps, whether that’s custom apps running on your company’s server or a public app designed as a global service. The Slack API site is not only the definitive source for documentation; there are also tutorials and code libraries and sample apps that you can download, test and inspect.

If you’re building Slack apps for the public, you’ll manage your apps on a dashboard and you’ll want to use our checklist to help you get your app ready.

Meet the features and APIs you’ll use

There are a handful of concepts you’ll need to know about when building your first app. Those include:

  • Picking a trigger to launch your app (using slash commands or message actions)
  • Slack’s use of HttpPost methods to interact in the Web API
  • App scopes you might require when requesting information from users
  • Message formatting options, such as adding interactive elements like buttons and dialogs to capture form data in Slack
  • An Events API, where you simply subscribe to events relevant to your app—such as a new user joining your workspace—which in turn triggers custom actions, like a welcome message

Get inspired: see what others are building

Watch the video above for examples from the likes of Salesforce, Github, Concur and more. You’ll see how these apps deliver interactive experiences with slash commands, send users notifications at just the right time, use webhooks to share data from outside sources and use the Events API to deploy a conversational bot.

We hear great ideas for new Slack apps all the time, and the barriers to building them isn’t as immense as you might think. It all starts with understanding what apps designed for Slack are capable of, how you can interact with users in Slack and how our APIs work.

Check out the planning and design guides on the Slack API site to start building today.

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