A step in the right direction

Introducing a new way to extend your Slack app in Workflow Builder

Adam Marinelli
Oct 7 · 3 min read
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Illustration and design by Gaby Saravia.

Workflow Builder now allows developers to create action-oriented utilities, so builders can combine workflow automation with their everyday tools. These utilities — known as steps — can be custom-built for your company, or offered publicly through the Slack App Directory.

Since the release of Workflow Builder, hundreds of thousands of builders published workflows that have been used more than 25 million times. 77% of these builders are non-technical, indicating a need for more tools that empower anyone to uniquely automate their work inside and outside of Slack.

The original workflow steps

Until now, two steps were available to builders: Send a message and Create a form. Once a workflow is triggered — by events like a new person joining a channel or an emoji reaction to a message — a predetermined combination of those two Slack-native steps shape the workflow and the outcome.

While these two simple actions have unlocked various use cases and proven to be flexible for creating no-code automations, we know that builders want to create workflows that go beyond forms and messages in Slack.

Enter steps from apps

Custom step development allows you to focus on creating simple, yet purposeful actions without the overhead of engineering an end-to-end integration on Slack — making it possible for any builder to customize when, where, and how they want to interact with the most valued and actionable parts of your tool or service.

Steps should be flexible across several unique use cases — extending beyond a single, narrowly-focused workflow. Meaning, the development work that goes into building a step can be reused by any builder on the workspace, removing the need to write custom code every single time.

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In Workflow Builder, the step library displays all available steps on a given workspace. Only steps from installed apps will be listed. Each app can publish up to 10 steps.

Beyond the App Directory

Today, you can browse the evolving list of steps from apps on our Slack App Directory, including Datadog, PagerDuty, Polly, Zapier, and the newly minted Google Sheets app. But, the usefulness of this new feature goes beyond those publicly available apps.

Perhaps your company would benefit from a custom step that integrates Workflow Builder with your internal tools, like a self-hosted status page. Or maybe you’d like to integrate an external service that doesn’t yet offer a public Slack app, like your preferred ticketing system. Better yet, you could create new functionality in Slack, like automatically spinning up a new channel, updating Slack status, or randomly selecting any member of a channel.

Regardless, you can build and deploy a highly versatile, low-code step using the Slack API features you already know and love, such as Block Kit and modals.

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Two custom steps are included in this incident management workflow — a form submission triggers new channel creation, curation, and invitation.

Getting started

You can start coding your steps today. Looking for inspiration? Browse our workflow templates, or jumpstart more advanced concepts using our sample code.

And don’t forget to check out our first-party framework, Bolt, for simple and quick step development. We can’t wait to see what you build!

Need help? Shoot us an email at feedback@slack.com with any questions.

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