Hacking Slack to keep your house in order

Some interesting uses for today's most popular messaging and collaboration service.

Hacking Slack personal use smart home
Credit: Martyn Williams

Earlier this month, a Swedish developer named Peter Fjallstrom wrote a blog post explaining how he used a few scripts to turn Slack, everybody's favorite new collaboration app, into a tool that helps keep track of his kids, calendar, and even improves the grocery shopping process.

Fjallstrom explained that he was inspired to apply Slack to his personal life after seeing the impact it had on his team at work. So he used the free tier of Slack – available for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows and allows you to browse through the most recent 10,000 messages posted – and added a little ingenuity to help organize the logistics of a family of four.

With a deployment that Fjallstrom admits his kids might eventually “start to question,” Fjallstrom integrated a script that, upon a prompt, grabs location data from the Find My iPhone app and presents a static Google Maps image showing their location at that moment.

Naturally, the spying element has attracted some differing opinions on this tool, but it's at least interesting to know it's possible.

Also interesting was Fjallstrom's use of Slack to keep a real-time grocery list. He uses an online grocery delivery system, which is based on a list that the customer creates before a certain weekly deadline. Rather than opening the list 10 minutes before deadline and trying to remember everything they'll need for the week, which Fjallstrom says is how his family had done it before, he uses custom Slack commands to add grocery items to the list as they run out.

When he notices they've run out of a certain item, he opens Slack, asks it to search the grocery service's list for the item, then uses a “buy” command to add it to the list.

Fjallstrom admits in his post that “this integration is not kosher at all” and might even violate Slack's terms of conditions. But he says outright that if the grocery service, MatHem, has any problem with it, he'd “cease and desist” as soon as they let him know. The post has been live for 10 days and has bounced around the internet and it's still there, so maybe he's in the clear.

Fjallstrom also integrated Google Calendar and the RSS feeds that his kids' schools made available (which is pretty impressive in itself) so he doesn't miss a school-related event.

Of course, these aren't exactly revolutionary applications. Amazon, for example, has tried desperately to get people to add household items to their shopping lists in real-time, rather than just run out to a store.

But if you're a fan of Slack – and, surprisingly, there are a lot of them – these are just some new, potentially useful ways to use it.

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