New Slack tools let you chat with bots using buttons

That's right, you can now click on messages to interact with them

Slack is making it easier for people to interact with third-party services that integrate with its chat app with the launch of a new developer tool that lets bots add clickable buttons to their messages.

What that means is that someone can submit an expense request to an app that's integrated into Slack, and that person's manager can then receive it -- within the chat interface -- along with buttons that let them easily approve or deny the request.

It's part of Slack's push to enhance its chat application with third-party integrations. This makes it easier for people to interact with outside services from within Slack, something the company has been emphasizing as one of its key features.

At launch, 12 companies, including Trello, Qualtrics, and Kayak, will have apps in Slack's third-party app directory that use the new button features. Apps like Trello that teams have already added to their Slack chats will be automatically updated to use the new functionality, which doesn't require any additional permissions in order to work.

Adding buttons into Slack Apps may not seem like a major feature, but it actually makes it easier for third parties to integrate their applications with Slack. That’s because the buttons make it easier for developers to get user input without having to parse plain-text responses.

It also means that it's now easier for users to interact with apps implementing the new buttons, rather than having to type out a response. That's good for apps that rely on quick interactions like Lunch Train, an app that allows people in an office to invite one another to lunch.

Starting Tuesday, developers can build apps that take advantage of the new button features. In order for those apps to be available to share with other organizations, developers have to submit them for review by Slack. People building custom applications for use within their own organizations will still be able to take advantage of this feature without having to ask for approval, however.

As with all other applications, administrators have to approve the addition of new apps into a Slack team.

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Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
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