Slack – New Features and Frontiers

Picture of Tim Marconi and colleagues at Slack Frontiers

By Tim Marconi.  Welcome to the second post in a series about the UC Tech Slack workspace. Here’s the link if you missed the first article. Today I am going to talk about new features in Slack, as well as Slack’s first user conference, Slack Frontiers.

Slack screen sharing

Slack recently added screen sharing to Slack calls, which can be extremely useful when you are helping to troubleshoot a problem, or just need to see someone else’s screen. Remote control of the presenter’s screen is also possible with the click of a button.

Dialog windows API

The API was updated recently to allow developers to add interactive dialog boxes to their Slack apps. This means it will be much easier to interact with a form in Slack. Imagine opening a helpdesk ticket by simply putting in a few quick details and having it sent directly to your ServiceNow queue.

Shared channels

Shared channels are a new feature that were announced in beta at Slack Frontiers. We’re using it aleady at the UCSD library. Because we work closely with the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), which has its own departmental Slack channel, we authorized a shared “sdsc-library” channel so that their team and our team could collaborate without leaving our respective workspaces.


Slack Frontiers

In September, Slack had its first conference and a few of us from UC San Diego and SDSC attended. Since it was the inaugural event, I really wasn’t sure what to expect – perhaps lots of Slack talk, maybe some new features or partnership announcements, and a good keynote or two. I did not expect the great content on soft skills. I highlight a couple of my favorite videos below. They are applicable to many different kinds of jobs – and aren’t very long.

What’s next for Slack  (video)

What do the next 12 months hold? What new features are peeking over the horizon? Paul Rosania, head of Core Product; Ilan Frank, head of Enterprise Product; Noah Weiss, head of Search, Learning, & Intelligence; and Buster Benson, head of Platform, talk about what they’re building and how it’ll make your work day simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.

Giving up your legos  (video)

Molly Graham knows hypergrowth well. She’s currently VP of operations at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative after being an early employee at Facebook and COO at Quip (acquired by Salesforce). She’ll share her experiences scaling organizations, and why sometimes “giving up your Legos” is necessary to build something bigger.

Meetings that don’t suck  (video)

When Ken Norton of GV isn’t providing startups with valuable product and engineering advice, he keeps busy writing about the crafts and processes that make for better product management. In this talk, Norton shares his techniques for holding effective meetings, communicating with courtesy, and leading meaningful conversations.

Diversity as a competitive edge  (video)

Diverse and inclusive workplaces are more than just numbers in an annual report. What real-life systems and structures can you put in place to help the humans in your organization grow, thrive and, ultimately, deliver the best results? Hear from leaders such as Jimena Almendares from Intuit, Arlan Hamilton from Backstage Capital, and Nicole Sanchez from Vaya Consulting on how they approach inclusion and why diversity is a must-have competitive advantage.

Building products that reflect the nuances of human communication  (video)

Christina Janzer, head of User Research at Slack, speaks about the nature of teams, organizational transformation, and how technology should be built around the intricacies and fluidity of human communication. She walks through three design principles (borrowed from the consumer world) that help enterprise software encourage productivity.

Those are just five of the great videos available from the conference. Want to see more? The entire playlist is available on youtube.

Next month I’ll write about Slack integrations and apps.


Tim MarconiTim Marconi is IT operations manager for the library at UC San Diego. He can be found in all kinds of channels on the UC Tech workspace.


Photo: From left, Brian Balderston, SDSC; Robyn Chadwick SIO, Jessica Hilt, UCSD ITS, Kacy Vega, UCSD Library; Tim Marconi, UCSD Library; and David and Kim, UC Slack account representatives.

Comment (1)

  1. Jessica Hilt

    I agree that the Slack Frontiers Conference was well worth going to. Molly Graham’s talk was amazing. It was one of those talks that I thought about for weeks afterwards.

    I would love to get ServiceNow working with Slack. How cool would that be?!


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