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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Slack’s Canvas characteristic places docs inside your chats — right here’s the way it works

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One of the best factor about Slack’s new Canvas characteristic is that I barely want to elucidate it to you. It’s like Google Docs however within Slack. Make a canvas, add some stuff, and share it with whoever you need. Each channel in your Slack now has a canvas connected to it, and you can too make and share as many as you need. That’s it!

Slack first announced Canvas final 12 months, they usually’re beginning to roll out to all Slack customers right now. I’ve been testing an early model over the previous couple of days, they usually’re undoubtedly going to be certainly one of my more-used Slack options going ahead. They’re perhaps probably the most helpful organizational device Slack has ever created.

See, the issue with Slack is that it’s chaos. Because it’s primarily a messaging app, every part that occurs in Slack occurs in a chat. Chats transfer quick, they usually resist group; even should you’re ruthless about forcing individuals to string every part, you’re going to finish up with one million threads that begin with issues like “Query, will thread particulars” and “Okay, so I used to be considering.” Slack needs to be a repository for all of your firm’s data, paperwork, knowledge, and workflows — and is definitely fairly helpful for a lot of of these issues! — however requires approach an excessive amount of scrolling and looking out to seek out the stuff you have been in search of.

Canvases are mainly simply paperwork stuffed with Slack stuff.
Picture: Slack

A technique to consider Canvas is simply as collections of Slack objects. You’ll be able to sort textual content into them, however you can too add photographs and movies, embed Slack apps, add hyperlinks, run polls, and all the opposite stuff you’d do in a message. Hyperlinks can present up as good playing cards, YouTube movies will play inline, and all of Slack’s wealthy hyperlinks and media present up in canvases, too. Actually, something you are able to do in Slack, you are able to do in a canvas, however now these issues are saved in a doc that you could find and manage far more simply. (Sure, you possibly can embed a canvas inside a canvas. Canvas-ception.) And if your organization is deep sufficient into Slack that you’ve got buttons to file bug reviews and multi-step workflows you possibly can invoke with a slash command, these all work inside a canvas, too. 

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A technique to consider Canvas is simply as collections of Slack objects

However although it’s technically a collaborative device for doc creation, Canvas isn’t actually a competitor to Google Docs. It’s additionally not a very refined modifying device, for one: you may make lists and headings, however you in any other case don’t have a lot management over how textual content appears to be like. A number of individuals can work on a canvas without delay, however Google Docs handles a number of cursors and overlapping edits significantly better. 

“Google Docs one hundred pc nonetheless has a spot in our universe,” says Ali Rayl, the SVP of product at Slack. In early testing, she’s seen Canvas occupy a distinct house. “The very first thing we’re seeing is that it’s in Slack, and there’s something about having this type of versatile house within the product already.” It might not be probably the most highly effective textual content editor on earth, however there’s most likely no quicker option to ship an onboarding doc or model information to a bunch of your colleagues. 

Canvases are going to be significantly helpful for changing bookmarks and pins in Slack.
Picture: Slack

There’s one thing to that logic: I’ve discovered myself utilizing Huddles, Slack’s in-app voice and video chat, extra usually than I assumed just because it’s proper there. Beginning a huddle appears like a fast name reasonably than dramatically dropping a Zoom hyperlink right into a dialog. And if I’m pulling collectively a temper board of hyperlinks and pictures to share with the group, a canvas might be the least difficult approach to take action.

As a result of it’s Slack, canvases deal with sharing and permissions rather well — significantly better than Google Docs. If you make a brand new canvas, you possibly can share it with anybody in your group or share it with a channel, and everybody within the channel can have entry. There’s no public sharing, although, so that you’re restricted to the individuals who even have entry to your Slack. (For many paperwork, that is most likely a superb factor.) All of the feedback on a canvas dwell in a devoted Slack thread, which itself is searchable similar to anything in Slack. In case you point out somebody in a canvas however they’re not but shared, their identify exhibits up with a grey background; share it with them and it turns blue. 

Over time, Slack appears to see canvases turning into freeform collaborative workspaces, much like each Google Docs and whiteboard apps like Miro. Extra instantly, although, they’re an enormous improve on the pins and bookmarks that Slack has relied on for too lengthy. The per-channel canvases are prone to be a giant hit for that goal alone. “We’ve got needed this floor in our merchandise since day one,” Rayl says. “Pins and bookmarks have been like, ‘We’ll do that for now till we construct that floor.’” Pins and bookmarks aren’t going away but, however Rayl hinted that they might not stick round eternally.

Slack appears to be like like a messaging app and acts like a messaging app, nevertheless it has by no means actually been only a messaging app. Wanting an excessive amount of like one has made it more durable to make use of Slack as a persistent place to retailer data. Canvases received’t take over your doc workflows anytime quickly, however they appear like an amazing place to place stuff that you simply’ll have the ability to discover once more. It makes Slack make extra sense. I’m already unpinning every part I can discover.

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