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How to Build Slack Apps for Salesforce

How to Build Slack Apps for Salesforce

Written by

Jeremy Horan

Technical Architect, Innovation; Traction on Demand

Salesforce is no stranger to acquisitions. Slack is its sixth and largest acquisition thus far at almost $28 billion dollars. Most of Salesforce’s acquisitions have naturally fit into the Salesforce app suite, either by being directly incorporated into its core platform or as an extension of the platform, seamlessly pulling in customer data. In the latter way, Slack pairs well with Salesforce. A natural assumption is that it will replace Chatter but we think it has a lot more potential.

Enrich Your Salesforce System with Data from Slack

Slack’s main selling point for integration in a CRM (customer relationship management) is that it’s the interface “where work happens”—to quote Slack. Businesses are increasingly moving away from email and toward real-time messaging applications. Features, such as channels and threads, keep everything organized. But not everyone has made the move to messaging. Certain teams, such as sales, continue to use email to set meetings and have conversations, updating Salesforce later on.

Slack has the potential to eliminate the extra step of having to manually populate Salesforce with customer data. By connecting the two platforms, the data can be instantly transferred from Slack to Salesforce.

How to Build Slack Apps for Salesforce

Unlike other messaging platforms, Slack’s intuitive API-driven app approach is very developer-friendly. Most popular programming languages have libraries that support the Slack and Salesforce API, and the process to create an app in Slack is straightforward.

Every application follows the same process:

  • Create an app
    • This is the shell of your application, it can be installed and upgraded; it holds all your interactions.
  • Create interactions
    • These are your application’s entry points, i.e. how a user will invoke a process.
    • These interactions can be automatically triggered using the Slack Events API or specifically invoked by clicking a shortcut or running a slash command, which are built into Slack’s UI.
    • Your app will generate a response to the interaction, which can be after it does something like create a record in Salesforce or run a query. 
      • This response can also generate an interactive component built using Slack’s Block Kit, which is a drag and drop UI builder similar to Lightning Pages except it’s fed to the API as a JSON string.
      • These interactive components can include buttons or links to fire additional interactions and let you customize the UI for each interaction.
      • Interactive components are powerful tools for quick focused actions. Unsurprisingly, they function very similar to quick actions in Salesforce, except you have more control over the UI.

For Developer Eyes Only

The only tricky part in building a Slack app for Salesforce is that your interactions need to go somewhere. This can be an API you build in Salesforce using the Apex RestResource Annotation, or a third-party hosted app like Node.js on Heroku, for example. That’s where the customization and specific functionality of your app will live. For an in depth guide on Sack app development, check out Start building Slack apps. If you want to trigger actions in Slack from Salesforce, you can most likely leverage the Salesforce for Slack AppExchange package.

Slack for Salesforce: It’s a Good Thing

Slack is a very powerful tool in its own right but by pairing it with Salesforce, you can get even more out of your CRM. By building Slack apps, users can stay in the same UI for a greater part of their day, leading to less context switching and better adoption. It’s all about making simple tasks, like creating or updating records, as easy as possible for the end-user so they can focus on their work and be as productive as possible.

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