Synchronous platform: SLACK

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Slack is a messaging app for work teams that allows cloud-based collaboration. It could be described as a combination of different services like email, instant messaging and file sharing services. It also includes bots with custom settings and a connection to external services and apps. By integrating these functions into a single tool, they seek to increase productivity.

This can be very useful for teams where the different members are in different places, like web-based teams that don’t share or don’t have a physical workspace, companies that work with freelancers, or multinational groups.

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Anyone can create an account through the official website, by choosing the name of a “subdomain.slack.com” and send invitations by mail to other team members. The service then groups all members of the team in channels, which are like chat rooms where you can talk about a specific project or any other subject. There are open or private channels, as well as direct messages.

As with other apps like Twitter, messaging and search queries can be specified by the symbols @ (for username) or # (for topics). In that way specific users can receive a notification when somebody is referring or talking to them, and search queries can be more efficient. Everything in Slackis automatically indexed and archived, so you can search anything you want: messages, notifications, files and content of documents. You can also use operators like from:, in:, after:, during:, to specify your search. The file sharing system consists on attaching or dropping documents to share them with anyone from the team. After that you can add comments and star for later reference.

One of the main features is the integration with other 55 services and apps, like file storage with Dropbox, payments with Stripe, reading RSS feeds, solving technical problems with JIRA, video chat with Hangouts and even automation with IFTTT. Compatibility is extensive with web applications and it works on Windows, OS X, iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The integration between devices is nicely developed as well, as they are all synchronized and allow you to always pick up wherever you left off.

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I think the use of mobile devices, which allow us to be connected 24/7, is an important component of the functionality of these kinds of applications. Startups and today’s companies usually have a dynamic and flexible workflow where teams don’t need to have the same schedules or work in the same office. Communication and access to this workflow must be possible at any time. However, I feel that Slack is still a desktop-first application, especially because in the world of business PCs or laptops are still fundamental and mobile, although very important, is currently only one part of the system.

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