The best thing about Canva, Slack’s new feature is that it hardly needs to be explained to anyone and of course different from the Canva online design tool. While this feature resides in Slack, it functions similarly to Google Docs. Users will have the ability to create a canvas, embellish it, and then share it with whoever they choose. Each channel in your Slack now has a canvas associated with it, and users are free to create and distribute as many as they like.
Canvas was first introduced by Slack a year ago and is now rolling out to all Slack users starting today. According to an early tester of the new Canva feature, “Perhaps this is the best organizational tool Slack has ever produced.”
However, Slack’s issue could be that it’s chaos. Everything in Slack happens in a chat because it is basically a messaging app. Even if you’re relentless about requiring people to thread everything, you’ll still end up with a million threads that begin with phrases like “Question, will thread details” and “Okay, so I was thinking.” Chats move quickly and resist organizing. Despite the fact that Slack is actually highly useful for many of these things and aspires to be a repository for all of your company’s information, papers, data, and workflows, finding what you’re looking for takes far too much scrolling and searching.
Canvas can be thought of as a collection of Slack objects. In addition to typing text, you can upload images and videos, embed Slack applications, add links, run polls, and perform any other actions you would perform in a message. All of Slack’s rich links and media can appear on canvases, while YouTube videos can play inline and links can appear as attractive cards. Everything you can do in Slack can actually be done in a canvas, but now everything is saved in a document that is much easier to discover and organize. (You can embed a canvas inside of another canvas. Canvas-caption.) Additionally, all of those features function inside a canvas if your business has sufficiently integrated Slack that you have buttons for reporting bugs and multi-step workflows that you can launch with a slash command.
However, Canvas isn’t truly a rival to Google Docs despite the fact that it is officially a collaborative tool for document production. It’s also not a very complex editing tool; aside from the ability to create lists and headings, there aren’t many other formatting options available. While several users can collaborate simultaneously on a canvas, Google Docs handles multiple cursors and overlapping updates significantly better.
According to Ali Rayl, the SVP of product at Slack, “Google Docs 100 per cent still has a place in our universe”. Rayl has witnessed Canvas occupy a distinct space during early testing. “The first thing we’re seeing is that it is in Slack, and there is something about having this kind of flexible space in the product already.” There may not be a more quick and efficient way to distribute a style guide or onboarding document to a large group of your coworkers.
That reasoning makes logical sense: Huddles, Slack’s in-app audio and video chat, can be used more frequently because it’s nearby. Instead of abruptly inserting a Zoom link into a conversation, starting a huddle seems like a brief call. A canvas is probably the simplest tool to use if you’re putting together a mood board of links and images to share with your team.
Canvases are significantly better than Google Docs in handling sharing and permissions because they are part of Slack. You can give access to a new canvas you create by sharing it with anyone in the team or by sharing it with a channel. You can only share with those who have access to your Slack because there is no public sharing. This is probably a positive thing for the majority of documents. Each comment on a canvas is stored in its own Slack thread, which can be searched just like any other Slack post. When someone is mentioned in a canvas but not yet shared, their name appears with a grey backdrop; once shared, it switches to blue.
Canvases appear to be evolving into freeform collaborative workspaces over time, much like Google Docs and whiteboard apps like Miro, according to Slack. However, they are a vast improvement over the pins and bookmarks that Slack has been using for far too long. For that reason alone, per-channel canvases are probably going to be very popular. Since day one, Rayl claims, “We have wanted this surface in our products.” “We’ll do this for now until we build that surface,” said the pins and bookmarks. Even if bookmarks and pins are still around, Rayl made a suggestion that they might eventually disappear.
Slack appears to be and functions like a messaging app, but it has never been exclusively a messaging app. It has become more difficult to use Slack as a persistent place to store information because it looks too much like one. Although they won’t replace traditional document processes any time soon, canvases seem like a terrific place to store anything that you can easily locate again. It clarifies Slack’s purpose.