Slack is a program that many businesses and teams rely on to communicate and collaborate. There are also features that you can utilize in Slack to make the experience even better. One of those features is slash commands. This tutorial will show you how to enhance your team’s Slack channel using custom slash commands.

What is a slash command?

Never used a slash command? Slash commands are shortcuts that you can enter into slack. This makes it easier to access information, gives more functionality to Slack. Both will help you increase your productivity. They can do anything from allowing you to search through conversations to helping you learn a fun fact. Slash commands can save time by allowing you to complete an action in one simple step.

How do slash commands work?

To see a full list of the slash commands that are available to you, type a slash symbol in the message section of Slack. There are already some commands built in. To use a slash command, all you need to do is type a “/” symbol followed by the name of the command in and send it.

Slack custom slash command

Slack - away slash command

All slash commands use an Application Programming Interface (API). What is an API? It’s an interface used to access data. Have you ever checked the weather on your phone? If you’re nodding your head yes, you’ve used an API. Slack uses plaintext information located at dedicated URLs to execute the action selected.

How do you select an API?

There are three ways that you can choose an API to use for your custom slash command:

  • Write your own API
  • Add a slash command provided by a third party service that integrates with slack
  • Use a resource like this one to locate an API that will complete your desired action

How you select an API will depend on your individual needs. Some large companies have APIs already built for internal use or the resources to create a new one. If you’re working with a small team, you probably won’t need anything that complex. There are many APIs that are easily accessible online.

In this tutorial, I’m going to be using a Yoda Speak API.

Creating the slash command

Ready to create your own slash command? These are the steps that you need to follow to integrate this new command into Slack.

Setup

Using one of the three ways mentioned above, find the API you want to use.

Then, go to api.slack.com

Slack APIs

On the next page, select Create New App

Slack - Create New App

Now, enter a name for your slash command and the workspace. Click Create App.

Slack - Create App

Select Slash Commands from the menu.

Create Slack App - Slash Commands

Now, Create New Command

Slack - Create new command

Next, enter the dedicated URL for your API request. To achieve the best outcome, this URL should return a plain text result. Save.

Slack custom slash command

Adding a description

Make it easy to remember and understand what your command does by adding a description. Slack calls these “usage hints.” This description will show up in the autocomplete list of commands. Keep it short. Otherwise, it will be difficult to find the right command in practice.

Next, go back to your apps basic information and select Install your app to your workspace

Slack - install your app to your workspace

Once you reach this page, select Authorize

Slack - Yoda Speak API

Customization

Time to give your new slash command some personality. You can customize your slash command in two ways:

  1. Choose a name. It will appear as the “username” when you use your new command.
  2. Change the image icon associated with your command. You can upload your own image.

Once you’re done customizing, check out the “preview” section. This will allow you to see what the messages will look like when your slash command is used.

Testing your new command

Slack Yoda slash command

After you’ve followed the steps outlined above, it’s time to test your new command. Type in your command and hit enter. Did you get the result you were expecting? If so, congratulations! You’ve successfully created a custom slash command! Now you can put it to good use and add more commands to make Slack even more useful.

Posted by Alyssa Goulet

Alyssa Goulet is a freelance technology and marketing copywriter. Her past clients include Demoflick, Focus@Will, and Chegg. Find out more by visiting her website, copyoncue.com or say hi on Twitter: @alyssagwrites.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.