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6 Really Cool Things You Can Do With The Slack API

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6 Really Cool Things You Can Do With The Slack API

Slack API

We know that “work is no longer a place you go” and that Slack is positioning itself as the place to work. But we also see genuine evidence that Slack is enabling genuine productivity through its automations, integrations, and open API.

Integration and workflow automation has been at the heart of Slack’s vision from the outset. Access to the Slack API takes these both to the next level by allowing developers and IT administrators to build custom bots and workflows.

In this post, we’ll dig into how to access the Slack API and look at some pre-built functions already being used in the real world.

What is a Slack API?

API stands for application programming interface. This means a set of definitions and protocols integrating into software. Slack’s API gives access for developers to create custom apps, workflows, and share data two-way.

Slack says its APIs are available for querying information from and enacting change in a Slack workspace.

Slack has several APIs to interact with:

  • Slack Connect API
  • Calls API
  • Bookmarks API
  • Events API
  • Web API
  • Conversations API
  • Real-Time Messaging API

Depending on what you need to do with Slack, make sure you choose the right APIs to integrate with.

There is technical Slack API documentation available on the Slack API website to help choose which is most appropriate.

Is the Slack API free?

Yes. There are no charges to build apps that use the Slack API, and there are no Slack charges to install apps that use the Slack API. 

For example, you can use a free workspace to build apps and install up to 10 apps.

Note: this limit of 10 includes both custom-built and third-party apps.

There are also pre-built Slack workflow automations you can choose from. In some cases, other people may have already created what you are looking for.

How do I connect to the Slack API?

Go to https://api.slack.com/ and sign into the workspace you wish to connect to the Slack API. 

Once signed in, you can use Bolt, Workflow Builder, or Block Kit to start creating apps and workflows.

You can create a new Slack app from scratch or by using existing templates created by other developers.

You May Also Like: Slack Webhooks: A Deep Dive

6 Things you can do with the Slack API

There are tons of Slack integrations out there you can download from the app directory. If these don’t do the job for you, check out some of the cool things people are using the Slack API for.

1 – Enable cross-platform messages to Microsoft Teams

When half your business uses Slack and the other half uses Teams, wouldn’t it be handy if you could send messages on Slack and they arrive on Teams?

Mio uses the Slack API to send and receive DMs and channel messages cross-platform. 

Use the Slack API to send messages to Microsoft Teams

Once you sync users or teams, you can send a Slack message as you would to any Slack users – and it gets delivered to your colleague on Teams.

Using the Events API, Mio listens in Slack channels for messages and relays these to connected channels on Teams.

As well as sending and receiving messages, all the modern features of “a message” get translated cross-platform too:

  • Basic messages
  • Threaded messages
  • File uploads
  • Editing messages
  • Deleting messages
  • Emojis
  • GIFs

As Microsoft starts to roll out Teams Connect, the emphasis on intercompany collaboration has also become obvious.

When Slack revamped shared channels to Slack Connect in 2020, it was clear Slack saw a huge use case for companies chatting cross-domain or cross-organization. 

Also in 2020, Mio launched universal channels to extend the Slack Connect functionality to users of Microsoft Teams. 

Slack Connect with users in other platforms

Like the example above for messaging colleagues internally, Slack and Teams users in different organizations can message each other by creating a “universal” channel between the two platforms.

Add Slack integration

2 – Get notified of critical information quickly

Adam Nathan, Director of Solutions Engineering at CoEnterprise, a premier partner of Tableau/Salesforce says the acquisition of Slack by Salesforce has enabled some exciting new possibilities, and they’re using the Slack API to help.

“We’re specifically interested in the ability to send dashboard visualizations into Slack, help analysts and managers get critical information directly in their workflow, link back to a detailed dashboard, and then take immediate action.”

“You need to build something out of the Slack API to take those actions, responding to the information passed in from Tableau. 

An example: 

  • A database user on a manager’s team has just been granted a high level of permissions in Snowflake.
  • Tableau picks this up and fires information to the user’s manager.
  • The manager can see this and then immediately shut the user’s access down in Snowflake at the click of a button.

All these actions take place within Slack. We call this solution “SnowTrail.”

Slack’s API makes this possible as we can pick up critical information in the message and then interact with other APIs to take action. 

The Slack user investigates and then acts. The beauty is that it takes place within the manager’s workstream and is easy to pick up the event. There’s no going and checking a dashboard at odd intervals.”

3 – Enable cross-platform messages to Zoom Chat

With the growth of Zoom spiking over the last few years, it’s natural some Slack users have come across the Slack-like chat functionality in Zoom.

Zoom Chat supports many of the messaging features we associate with Slack – only it sits within the Zoom interface. This means some remote workers who have got used to using Zoom for video calls will also find it easier to stay in Zoom and only switch to Slack occasionally.

While this is great for users of Zoom-only, it creates a disconnect between Slack users and Zoom Chat users.

When left to fester, this situation creates workplace silos and a major loss of productivity.

But the good news is you will soon be able to connect Slack and Zoom for cross-platform chat. 

Use the Slack API to send messages to Zoom Chat

Once you sync users or teams, you can send a Slack message as you would to any Slack users – and it gets delivered to your colleague on Zoom Chat.

Using the Events API, Mio listens in Slack channels for messages and relays these to connected channels on Zoom.

As well as sending and receiving messages, all the modern features of “a message” get translated cross-platform too:

  • Basic messages
  • Threaded messages
  • File uploads
  • Editing messages
  • Deleting messages
  • Emojis
  • GIFs

Get on the waitlist to connect Slack and Zoom Chat here.

4 – Trigger alerts based on pop-up responses

Ryan Nieman, CEO of Solitaire, connects to the Web API and Events API to build an alert system in Slack that notifies him every time a user submits a response to a particular section of an A/B testing pop-up.

“Whenever a consumer responds to our challenge section of the A/B testing, we get an alert on Slack. Based on these alerts, our UI/UX designers have built a more customized website for a specific audience. This tool has helped the marketing team to assess customer conversion and engagement.”

5 – Automate routine processes

Nine Publishing is the publishing arm of Nine Entertainment. It uses custom tools and apps to simplify newsroom processes and monitor performance analytics.

It has created custom apps and slash commands to speed up processes that once relied on humans to create and maintain

  • @incident-monster: Reports new incidents and helps the team manage them
  • /transcribe: Allows journalists to request transcriptions for audio files right from Slack
  • /dashboards: Brings up a library of available dashboards so employees can access data and insights on content performance
  • /roster: Provides a list of the engineers and technical team members on call for any given service

The headline benefit is they reduced day-long processes to 30 minutes 🤯

If that isn’t a reason to start using the Slack API then I don’t know what is.

6 – Enable cross-platform messages to Webex

When you’ve gone all-in on Slack but you’ve got a small portion of folks still using Webex, it’s hard to change their habits of a lifetime.

Instead of forcing them off Webex (and likely creating shadow IT), you can use Mio to connect Slack and Webex

Your Webex users can continue using Webex and your Slack users won’t notice anything different. In fact, the only change they’ll see when messaging day-to-day is a little Webex icon next to their colleagues’ name – handy so you know they won’t be joining Slack Huddles or any Slack-only functionality.

Messages are sent from Slack, and Mio uses the Slack API to translate them into Webex language.

Send Slack messages cross-platform to Webex users

Once you sync users or teams, you can send a Slack message as you would to any Slack users – and it gets delivered to your colleague on Webex (and vice versa).

Using the Events API, Mio listens in Slack channels for messages and relays these to connected channels on Webex.

As well as sending and receiving messages, all the modern features of “a message” get translated cross-platform too:

  • Basic messages
  • Threaded messages
  • File uploads
  • Editing messages
  • Deleting messages
  • Emojis
  • GIFs
Add Slack integration