Slack targets developers with Block Kit UI framework

The team collaboration software maker says Block Kit will lead to apps that are more visually appealing and easy to use.

Credit: Slack

Slack has launched Block Kit, a UI framework made up of stackable “blocks” that lets developers display information more effectively within app messages.

The tool was first announced at Slack's developer conference, Spec, and is now generally available alongside Block Kit Builder, a live prototyping tool to make it easier to create and design apps using the Block Kit framework.

Bear Douglas, head of developer relations at Slack, said that the Block Kit will lead to apps that are “more beautiful, more visually engaging, and - most importantly - show users the full range of possibilities of things you can do with apps.

“Most notable is the ability to get work done in other [applications] without leaving Slack,” she said.

There are five blocks available at launch, though Slack plans to add more in future. They include: “Section,” a container for text; “Context,” a space to add metadata or a description; “Image,” an image container with space for captions; “Divider,” a separating line; and “Actions,” interactive components for an app, such as drop-down menu types and a date picker.

One example is Guru's knowledge management app, which is available in Slack's platform. With the use of dividers, Guru's “help” message displays a clearer call to action, while an overflow menu lets users access additional functionality without cluttering the screen.

Another is scheduling tool Doodle, which lets users suggest meeting times from within Slack.

The Block Kit Builder lets developers create quick prototypes of app messages, which they can copy and paste into an app’s code. To make the process even easier, Slack provides templates developed around common workflows.

“Slack is trying to remove the barrier to companies creating their own low-code solutions, building off their diverse approved integration products,” said Wayne Kurtzman, research director at IDC. “The demand for corporate integrated and low-code solutions [is] growing. Slack’s Block Kit is their way of demonstrating that they are making it easier to leverage enterprise applications within a collaborative environment.”

The launch of Block Kit and Block Kit Builder follows the introduction last year of Slack Actions, a feature that lets developers create action points that users can interact with directly from a message post in the app.

According to most recent stats, there are now more than 200,000 weekly active Slack developers and in excess of 1,500 apps in the Slack app directory.

In addition, the number of integrations created internally within organizations – and thus not available in Slack’s app directory – has also been growing rapidly. Slack estimates the number of new in-house integrations at 15,000 a week.

Slack, which is preparing for a public listing, now has more than 10 million daily active users and 85,000 paid teams.

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