Slack is the latest trend in workplace communications software, but despite the cute features is it really all it’s cracked up to be?
One hidden drawback to using Slack is your data is subject to any subpoenas against Slack Technologies. While this isn’t too bad if you’re just discussing memes in #random or using the /gif feature in #general, if you’re discussing sensitive information which is normally protected they can now target Slack as a service provider. A good example can be found in journalism; while they can’t force a journalist to give up sources, they could subpoena Slack for all chat logs at a media log which might contain discussion about sources for a story.
Clunky Desktop App
The Slack application is built on Electron, the shiny new cross-platform application framework. Electron succeeds where other cross-platform frameworks fail by using a common tool for UI development: HTML, JS, and CSS. By utilising the V8 engine from Chrome, developers can have an interface as pretty and shiny as any modern web site. But this comes at a price; your chat client will be running at anywhere from one to three gigabytes of RAM.
From most angles, Slack is a descendent from the IRC protocol. The rooms, direct messages, mentions, and file transfers are pulled wholesale from it’s open-source ancestor but whereas anyone could build their own IRC client or host their own server, Slack is a proprietary protocol, using locked down apps and connecting only to it’s servers. This means they can raise prices, become less reliable, or shut down (nightmare scenario) and you’d be out of luck and without your chat client.