Slack Announces 'Block Kit' Tool And Builder To Ease Developers In Creating Apps

Slack, the cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services, wants to help "everyone get work done."

The Slack App Directory already has more than 1,500 apps, with the Slack Platform for the creation of apps and automated bots can be dated back to 2015.

Based on those, Slack has announced a 'Block Kit' tool to help developers build more visually appealing apps.

With the tool, Slack apps are made to appear like stackable blocks, allowing developers to better visualize and order how information is presented to users.

Here, the tool has five basic blocks:

  1. Image to create image containers.
  2. Actions where developers can add interactive elements, such as buttons and six types of dropdown menus.
  3. Section to add text containers.
  4. Context for descriptive metadata.
  5. Divider where developers can add spaces between blocks.
Slack Block Kit
The Guru app, before and after using Block Kit

Block Kit was first released in preview in May 2018 at Slack developer conference.

According to Slack Platform general manager Brian Elliott, when releasing the first preview of the tool back in May 2018 at Slack developer conference Spec:

“Besides these blocks themselves, the other thing that this provides is flexibility in terms of vertical control: You decide how you want to stack components, how you want to place them on the page, and what order makes the most sense for your app and user base."

Slack has 10 million daily active users, in which 90 percent of them are already utilizing at least one app.

Here, Slack has grown bigger than just a messaging app. By integrating its services with Jira, Trello, and other popular workplace tools, the company has expanded its services to help developers work, that made the platform worth $7.1 billion.

Slack Block Kit Builder
A preview of Block Kit Builder's notifications template

With Slack available across mobile, web, and desktop, Block Kit automatically handles the visual heavy-lifting for developers to ensure apps can look consistent across platforms.

The company also introduced a tool called Block Kit Builder for designing apps and testing app prototypes.

This tool that has a WYSIWYG UI allows users to develop apps visually, without the need to write codes.

"The great thing about the Block Kit Builder is you don’t need to have any context about what’s possible in the Slack message or Slack app," said Bear Douglas, Director of Developer Relations at Slack.

"Suppose I was working on an app for the Slack directory and I said to my designer to ‘you should go design my Slack interface.’ Without knowing anything about Slack, they would be able to drag and drop components to make the message so that it gets the end-user experience they’re going for."

Both the Block Kit tool and Block Kit Builder were created to make it easier to design apps and deliver a more consistent user experience.

With these additions, Slack aims for a bigger goal, which is to get even more users, by setting up a standard of how Slack apps should work.

This is also a way for the company to better prepare for its IPO.