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“Take Control of Slack Basics” Serialized in TidBITS

We’re pleased to kick off another serialized Take Control book: “Take Control of Slack Basics,” written by Glenn Fleishman. Chapter 1, “Introducing Slack,” and Chapter 2, “Getting Started with Slack,” are available for everyone to start reading right now, and future chapters will be available to TidBITS members.

Slack is an interactive group messaging service — think of it as group chat on steroids — that works on the Mac and in iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, and any Web browser. Thanks to a generous free tier and compelling paid plans, Slack has become insanely popular, signing up over 570,000 paid accounts and boasting well over 2 million daily active users. For many organizations, focused Slack channels have taken over for out-of-control email threads, offering instant communication while retaining the persistence and searchability of email. Also helpful are Slack’s notification settings, which can be tuned to help people stay up to date without becoming overwhelmed. Perhaps most compelling for many
organizations, though, are Slack’s integrations, which enable hundreds of third-party services to transfer data in to and out of Slack, and “bots” that can interact with users directly.

We first heard about Slack when our friends Greg Scown and Philip Goward at Smile raved about it to us at the last Macworld Expo, and although we tried Slack shortly thereafter, it wasn’t until Glenn approached us about writing a book that we delved in sufficiently to understand Slack’s power. Since then, Slack has indeed reduced email traffic among the TidBITS crew significantly, and we’re wasting less time on slow back-and-forth messages. Admittedly, we spend a bit more time chatting, but in a decentralized organization like ours,
it’s important for everyone to feel involved. Slack has proven particularly effective for book projects, since it’s so easy to keep everyone in the loop.

Because Slack has evolved so quickly — the company added voice calling just a few weeks ago — its documentation isn’t always fully fleshed out. That was the impetus behind “Take Control of Slack Basics” — we wanted to help both new users who feel at sea after joining a team and current Slack users who want to dig into the many hidden tricks and techniques that will make them more efficient. Since anyone can start a free Slack team, Glenn is also working on a companion book called “Take Control of Slack Admin,” which will walk you through setting up and configuring your own team for your business, non-profit, academic department, club, or even family. (Slack’s basic paid tier is free for qualifying non-profits and all
paid levels are heavily discounted for education users.)

As we did with “Take Control of Your Digital Photos on a Mac,” “Take Control of Apple TV,” “Take Control of OS X Server,” and “Take Control of Security for Mac Users,” we’ll be serializing chapters of “Take Control of Slack Basics” in TidBITS over the coming weeks for TidBITS members, with chapters available as individual articles. We hope to release one or more new “chapticles” each week, and everyone is welcome to start reading Chapter 1, “Introducing Slack,” today (the first two chapters are available to all).

In the grand tradition of eating one’s own dogfood, we’ve also started a public Slack group that anyone can join. It’s impossible to predict exactly how SlackBITS will evolve, but if you have a question about “Take Control of Slack Basics” or Slack itself, you can ask it in the appropriate channel. We also have channels for questions about the Mac, iOS, and Apple TV, and we’ll create additional channels as necessary once we see what topics come up in #general. Instructions on how to join are in Chapter 1, “Introducing Slack.”

The full “Take Control of Slack Basics” will be available for sale in PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket formats for everyone like any other Take Control title once it’s done, but to read the pre-release chapticles in TidBITS, you must have joined the TidBITS membership program and be logged in to the TidBITS Web site. It’s a great way to support TidBITS and learn more about Slack! Other benefits of TidBITS membership include a 30 percent discount on all Take Control books and discounts on numerous Mac apps, a full-text RSS feed, immediate email delivery of new articles as they’re published, and a banner ad–free version of the TidBITS Web site.

The full table of contents is:

So please, take a look at the first few chapticles, and let us know what you think in comments at the end of the chapticles or via SlackBITS!

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