How to integrate with the Slack platform

More than simply another collaboration solution, Slack has RESTful APIs that let you exchange data with -- and trigger actions in -- all sorts of dev tools and applications

Developers need collaboration tools. First there was email, then there were private IRC servers, then came public instant messaging tools -- all ways of quickly sharing information across teams. Technologies like XMPP added open protocols that allowed software to enter the conversation, a model that was extended by document and service integration points in Salesforce’s Chatter and Microsoft’s Yammer.

Now we have Slack, a popular Web-based collaboration tool that builds on the lessons of earlier applications -- and is designed to be a platform in its own right.

Slack enables developers to have both formal and informal conversations inside and outside their organizations. Externally, Slack can be used to bring together communities of interest around new technologies, development methodologies, languages, and platforms.

What makes Slack particularly interesting for developers, however, is its integration with tools used in modern development environments. For example, GitHub integration lets you monitor your project repositories, allowing you to see at a glance what code has changed and what new branches have been created.

Adding services to Slack makes it easier to view what the rest of a team is doing, whether you’re in the same office or spread around the world. Other integrations tie into the devops workflow -- linking with tools like Jenkins or Visual Studio Online for builds -- or connect with services that help manage uptime or provide user support (such as Pingdom, Zendesk, or PagerDuty). Other integration points help pull together distributed teams, adding videoconferencing support for global standups and basic tools for tracking developer and project status.

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