It has taken me a while to warm up to Slack, but now I am finally starting to get it. One of the main reasons why I am now slowly becoming a fan is all the development going on, regarding Slack “integrations”. For the uninitiated, a Slack integration is where another web service is connected to Slack. Look upon it as the Slack equivalent of a Chrome plugin or Firefox extension. The only drawback is that free accounts are limited to a maximum of 10 integrations.
I am also a fan now because quite frankly I hate my email inbox. Slack claims to be an email killer, and so far it has managed to help me reduce my dependence on email quite a bit. I can keep track of clients and colleagues, and at the same time not be caught up with other email that will distract me for hours on end. Like those fantastic Viagra deals from Canada (not for me you understand, for a friend).
Back in November, I talked about 14 automated bots you can use with Slack. But now I figured “14 is too puny! Let’s do a bigger list!“. So after many sleepless nights scouring the depths of the Internet, drinking far too many Red Bulls, and talking to too many Slack bots and sitting in too many Slack communities, I have managed to come up with a list of 25 Slack integrations (down from 45) you should consider using. You’re welcome. Now I’m off to get some sleep and come down off the Red Bull.
We start with perhaps one of the best known sites on the Internet, which is starting to make a bit of a comeback. Among the many projects they have on the go at the moment, is a Slack Bot (Diggbot).
After installing Diggbot, you can then have Digg stories sent directly to your Slack channel. See the latest trending stories, have links currently being Dugg sent to you, search content by keyword, and more. Now you can party like it’s 2004.
Everybody knows what Uber is, and now Slack makes it even easier for you to call up your next set of wheels. Instead of going to the Uber website, you can stay inside Slack and do it from there, with a set of commands:
Request a ride, cancel one, see your status, and more. Now your next ride is only a Slack command away. Unfortunately there isn’t a Slack command for specifying that you don’t want a lunatic driver with delusions of Michael Schumacher.
After a tough day at the office, it’s good to kick back with a six-pack and watch a movie. But which one? And how do you know if your selection is any good? Enter “Movie Night” which will give you a quick rundown of each movie, along with its release date and popularity score. See movies playing now, soon, and in the future. Simple, and to the point. Does a single job and does it well.
A decent RSS reader is hard to find these days. After having tried Digg Reader, I finally settled on Bazqux. But Slack can also be another fairly decent RSS reader if you don’t have too many feeds to monitor.
Simply add the integration to Slack, enter the RSS feed address, and choose which channel all updates should be pushed to — I suggest making a new channel purely for RSS updates. Note however that the channel chosen must be a public channel. Also note that RSS Fox does not show images or full posts — you need to click through to the actual post for all that. This is just really a notification tool.
The world’s favorite movie website now has its own Slackbot (although it has not been built or endorsed by them). Search the IMDb database for movie details, the same way you would use the Movie Night bot. Get release dates, runtimes, cast members, and ratings. Weirdly enough however, it didn’t find the new Star Wars movie. Instead it gave me the “parody trailer”. So, something strange going on there.
Are you a shopaholic? Or maybe you just like doing all your purchasing requirements online? I do. If you live in the US or Canada, then Shopbot will help you search Amazon for what you are looking for (Shopify and Etsy coming soon). Simply type
/shop followed by your search term. As you can see, Amazon is not the place to go for your hoverboards.
This will become a lot more useful once they start expanding to the rest of the world. And they should also cover eBay. Another alternative to Shopbot is Kip.
If you live in London, you will know how reliant you need to be on the Tube service (Metro). And there is nothing worse than setting off on your journey and discovering that your ride has been cancelled or delayed. This is where the London Tube slack integration comes to save the day.
/tube will bring up the status of all Tube lines, or you can specify a Tube line to get the status of that one only. So something like
Are you struggling to keep up with the cool kids and their acronyms? After all, it can be confusing when they are LOL’ing while ROFL’ing with their BAE. If you receive an incomprehensible SMS message, or you don’t understand the young un’s anymore, then it’s time to start using the Urban Dictionary slackbot. Entering the term you want to know more about will bring up a definition, along with any other related terms.
With all of the links flying around Slack these days, it’s weird how very few people have thought of a virus and malware detector. But DBot seems to be filling that niche nicely. When a link is pasted into Slack, or files are uploaded, DBot checks for any viruses and malware, and alerts you inside Slack if there are any problems.
It’s always good to expand one’s vocabulary, and unless you’ve been the world Scrabble champion for the last 10 consecutive years, you should always have ready access to a dictionary and thesaurus. After all, you never know when you will be invited to a flunky’s house to bibble with their playfellows.
Just use the commands
/thesaurus, followed by the word you want to look up.
Sometimes it can be really difficult going to see the doctor, if you have a really embarrassing problem. So it can be really handy to talk to Dr Slackbot instead. It doesn’t judge you in any way so you can feel free to open up to it. You can also stop Googling “I have a headache” and be told by a website that you have cancer. Your.MD’s results are vetted by the British National Health Service, so you can be reassured that the information provided is credible.
Your.MD is an intelligent bot which understands conversational English to be able to talk to you and get to the root of your problem.
PlayPlay [No Longer Available]
If you have a big Slack team, it would be great if once in a while, you blew off some steam. The best way to do that is to play games, and PlayPlay has you covered in the form of Ping Pong, pool, chess, and Tic Tac Toe.
Unfortunately there’s no mud wrestling, so for the moment you have to be content with checkmating someone.
Hacker News has become an extremely popular Reddit-like site for geek news. But keeping up with the site can be time consuming. By integrating HNSlack, you will receive the front page of Hacker News in your Slack channel at 1600 EDT everyday.
Along the same lines as HNSlack, FastVoted gives you the “trending posts” in your Slack channel for Product Hunt, Hacker News, Twitter, and Reddit. No more than 15 messages a day are sent, so you don’t have to be worried about a deluge of spam hitting your channel.
If for any reason you can’t subscribe to this channel (say if your work Slack restricts anything being installed), then you can read FastVoted by joining this community.
If you have multiple users on a Google Drive account (such as a company Drive account), then keeping track of all the changes users make can be very difficult and time consuming. Or you could use this integration which tracks when and who made what edit where. Everytime there is an edit in the Drive account, you will be notified in your Slack channel.
If the FastVoted integration is too much for you, and you are looking for something simpler to monitor ProductHunt, then ProductSlack is the one to install. Any listing with over 100 votes will be funnelled to you in a direct message, so the rest of your team won’t be disturbed.
Large [No Longer Available]
Large is another great example of how bots are becoming much more intelligent, and able to understand “conversational English”. Large helps you with anything you need done. It achieves this by being plugged into thousands of services, such as Amazon, OpenTable, AirBnB, and Virgin America. Just tell it what you need, and it will start looking for you.
The only snag is, yes, it’s US-only. It is currently restricted to the following areas : San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, East Bay, South Bay), New York City, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago, Washington DC, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Miami, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Denver, Las Vegas, San Diego, Orange County, Long Beach, Portland, Phoenix, Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Raleigh, Nashville, Arlington Virginia, and Virginia Beach.
After installing a doctor at your company Slack, it’s then time to install a therapist (couch not required). The therapists on the other end are not bots. They are actual living breathing human beings, accredited and experienced. You talk to them via direct message, so everything is private.
However, it’s not free. Prices start at $8.50 a month for 1-25 Slack users, with the price dropping as more Slack users on your team sign up (dropping to a maximum of $3.50 a month). It sucks having to pay, but therapists need to eat too, and which is better? $8.50 a month, or $200 an hour for lying on the couch? You decide.
Slack is quickly becoming the most popular thing since sliced bread, but nevertheless, not everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. Some people remain stubbornly attached to their email. So what do you do when you need to include them in a Slack discussion, but they point-blank refuse to sign up for Slack? Use Clubble instead.
Clubble acts as a bridge between Slack and email inboxes. People can be invited to Slack discussions via their email address, and the emailer will get all replies in their inbox. They can also reply via their inbox. On the Slack end, the replies appear as normal Slack replies.
With privacy being the new watchword on the Internet, DuckDuckGo has become the popular alternative to Google. DDG doesn’t keep user logs whereas Google does. DDG doesn’t deliver “personalized results” whereas Google does. The list of benefits goes on.
Now another benefit has arrived — Slack integration. With this one, you simply have to type
/rd and then your search term. Do all of your searching inside Slack without having to switch to the browser.
Slacker is for all the jokers in the team, the ones that lighten up the atmosphere with their humor. Using this, they can impersonate a collection of 20 characters on Slack, and post funny replies under their name and photo. If none of the characters are interesting to you, you can add your own.
Health Hero integrates with various third-party fitness devices and services, to enable you to challenge your team to fitness challenges. The devices supported include Apple Health, Apple Watch, Fitbit, Jawbone, Google Fit, Misfit, MapMyFitness, Garmin, MyFitnessPal, and Runkeeper.
Invite others to a team, and check out each other’s position on the scoreboard. But more importantly, encourage the rest of your team to get out of their chairs and do some exercise! Even if it means running round their computer.
Are you being drowned under an avalanche of bookmarked websites in Slack? If so, Pogo may be what you need to keep them all in order, and summon them back at will. As you can see in the screenshot above, just paste the link into the Slack window, and assign labels to the link to be able to get them back easier. Pogo will then remember for you.
When you need the links back, just tell Pogo one or more of the labels, and you will get a list of links with those labels.
We are going to end with two pithy ones, which are of no use whatsoever, but they are funny and will put a smile on peoples faces. So I guess in that respect they ARE useful.
Yebot tells you what Kanye West is currently saying on Twitter. His words of wisdom, his intellectual thoughts and earth-shattering observations. Yes, I am not a fan of Kanye, what gave me away?
Finally if you are a cat lover, then you are going to love Cat Facts. When you do
/catfacts, it will send you a random “fact” about cats. Things that will bring you closer to your cat as you will be positioned to understand them better. Next time they bring home a gift and dump it on the back porch, then you will know to be more grateful for it bringing dinner home for the family.
What Slack Integrations Do YOU Use?
I must have gone through three times as many integrations for this article, testing them, chatting up the bots, and in the process, many got discarded for one reason or another. So maybe you’re steaming right now because I neglected your favorite Slack integration?
If so, feel free to yell at me in the comments. Then I’ll tell you why it got scrapped.
Image Credits: PixaBay