Slack has largely succeeded in the enterprise by allowing people to communicate in multiple ways while integrating with many common business applications. This lets you stay in Slack to get your work done without the dreaded task switching. But what Slack lacked until now was a way to persistently share information about a project.
If you wanted to find project-related content, you could start a channel to narrow it down and share documents, links, and other information, but finding it requires a search or a lot of scrolling. Slack recognized this limitation and decided to combine the collaborative tools of Quip with the communication capabilities of Slack in a new tool that Slack calls Canvas.
Quip is the company that Salesforce bought in 2016 for $750 million (and brought co-CEO Bret Taylor to the company). Salesforce has always seemed to struggle to make good use of Quip on the platform. With Slack, the company she bought in 2020 for nearly $28 billion, she found a way to solve the lingering content problem.
Tamar Yehoshua, CPO of Slack, describes it this way: “Canvas takes the collaborative components of Quip and integrates them natively into Slack. It’s a persistent layer of information that complements the real-time nature of the channels,” Yehoshua told Metaverse Marketing.
For businesses, which do the majority of their work in Slack and rely on it to share information, Canvas can be a kind of missing link in helping people find the information they need much faster. It sits next to a channel’s conversation stream and allows users to access information such as data and charts, text, tasks, internal and external links, training videos, and more.
“So you have a channel with the real-time nature of the information flowing, and then you can have a persistent layer where you can find things very easily,” she said.
You can also include workflows you create in Slack and add them as buttons in the canvas, and you can add feedback threads like you can with Quip. “So all the features you have in Slack threads are available for commenting in your canvas,” she explained.
Early customers used it for new employee onboarding and marketing campaigns, as examples.
In addition to Canvas, Slack announced that it has improved Huddles, the tool for quick audio meetings with video capabilities for users who want them. Slack also opens up the Slack Platform, a way for developers to create modular, reusable building blocks in Slack to create more personalized workflows. It’s moving from private beta to public beta this week.
Slack Canvas is announced today at Dreamforce in San Francisco and is expected to be generally available next year.