The Robots are Coming!

Earlier this week, the company behind the productivity tool Slack announced a number of new initiates aimed at fostering and supporting third-party development on the Slack platform.

Slack is an incredibly powerful tool that can making working with members of a team (particularly if those members are remote, and located in disparate locations) much more efficient. Even fun! We use it at Accela extensively to collaborate and ensure team members are in regular communication with each other.

One of the more exciting aspects of Slack’s recent announcements is the official release of a toolset specifically for creating Slack bots. Slack bots are small applications that run inside Slack and can be used for a variety of purposes – in short, they are a quick and easy way to empower team members to do things more effectively.

This new toolset from Slack isn’t the only way to create Slack bots. Their open APIs mean you can roll your own solution for a new Slack application, or leverage other toolsets like Hubot. But having said that, we wanted to give the new Botkit toolset a try, to see how quickly and easily we could create a useful new Slack bot for Accela customers.

Botkit is written in Node.js, so its easy to pair it with Accela’s Node.js module for the Construct API to build a new Slack bot. Here is a quick example of a Slack bot that will look up the current status of a record in an Accela system.

The code for this Slack bot is on Github and can be easily extended to support all sorts of functionality.

The purpose of Botkit is to make it easy to leverage the Slack platform, and the purpose of the Construct API and our various client libraries is to make it easy to leverage the power of the Accela Civic Platform.

Together these two powerful platforms make it possible to create rich applications that will get your team working together efficiently, and happily!

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