Slack details upcoming features, including upgraded search and a workflow builder

Written about 1 year ago by IanDorfman

Slack has announced several upcoming new features for its flagship workplace collaboration hub.

In a post shared on the team collaboration app's official blog on April 24th, the Small Slack iconSlack development team shared details on several features coming soon.

The post started by describing how shared channels will work. The feature first went into beta testing in 2017, but that beta specifically excluded enterprises, with only a vague "coming soon" time frame provided. In this case "soon" is now "starting this summer," which is when enterprise customers will be able to collaborate with other agencies, customers, vendors, and any other external parties with the same efficiency as internal teams already enjoy in the app.

The upcoming Workflow Builder feature aims to automate some of the more menial tasks that are usually manually done, including approving budgets and setting up new hires. These automated workflows will support functionality such as "filling out simple forms to gather information and automatically posting into channels or direct messages of your choosing." The Slack blog post provided the following use case examples for what businesses could automate:

• A self-service form for any benefits requests from HR
• A survey for employees planning to visit your New York office
• A welcome message full of tips that is automatically sent whenever someone joins a specific channel

One of the upcoming initiatives groups together similar upcoming new features around the theme of "[bringing] your everyday tools inside Slack." This includes support for forwarding emails and attachments from Small Gmail iconGmail and Small Microsoft Office Outlook iconMicrosoft Office Outlook directly into Slack via add-ins, support for routing direct messages into email inboxes (with others able to respond inline via said email), and further support for synchronizing Small Google Calendar iconGoogle Calendar and Outlook's calendar with Slack.

The post concluded by describing Slack's upcoming improved search functionality. Being touted as a "universal navigation hub" by the development team, support for the following features was emphasized:

• Find a handy list of unread channels and direct messages
• Quickly navigate to channels, files and people you work with regularly
• Search through the archives and swiftly dig up discussions and materials that you need to reference

The team is hoping that the ability to search for every type of content on Slack within one search bar will mean "less time spent scouring for information and more time spent moving projects forward."

Slack developers provided release windows for each feature. They are as follows:

• Shared Channels - "Starting this summer" for Enterprise customers
• Workflow Builder - "Later this year" with a pilot program available
• Microsoft Outlook and Gmail add-ins - Available Now
• Slack direct messages routing into email inboxes - "Available to all over the next few months."
• Further integration with calendar apps - "Later in the year."
• Expanded search functionality - "In the coming weeks."