My family of four uses Slack and now we can’t imagine life without it

Imagine always knowing where your kid is.
Imagine always knowing where your kid is.
Image: Reuters/Mark Makela
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Everything changed for the better when we started using Slack at work. We’ve made countless custom integrations; doorbells, intercoms, travel cards, Reddit, lunch menus, git hooks, server monitoring, you name it—we have it.

My family has been using Google Calendar for a few years. My wife and I used to think that we were busy every night and that there was no room for improvisation. Google Calendar showed us that we had lots of free evenings and weekends—which has been great.

When it was time to pick a group chat app, I saw no reason to use HipChat, Skype, or anything like that. Slack to the rescue!

slack channels
Image: Peder Fjällström

Slack’s free tier gives us 10 integrations, search for the latest 10,000 messages, and five gigabytes of storage. This is plenty for a family of four. In this blog post I’ll go through how we use it and the integrations we have made to aid us.

We use channels just the same way we use them at work. “fixahuset” is a channel for stuff that needs to be fixed around the house, “general” is important stuff, “handla” is for picking up milk on the way home, “mathem” is an integration I’ll get to in a bit, and “random” is the usual cat gif mayhem we’ve all learned to love/hate. “pedertest” is where I test new integrations.

Integration number one: Where are the kids?

We ask this question daily, as most parents to 10 year-old kids do. We go to pick them up at school, but they’re at a friend’s house, etc. Gah. This is a custom Slackbot command which calls out to my server and returns the result.

My server runs a little curl script that calls out to Find My iPhone and returns a static GoogleMap image. The kids will probably start to question this thingie eventually, but it works for now.

Integration number two: Google Calendar

Our old Google Calendar integrates very smoothly—just hook it up and let Slack know when you want the notifications.

Integration number three: School information

It turns out our school is living in the future, providing a RSS-feed per child. I had no idea. RSS works very well with this setup.

Integration number four: Online food shopping

In Sweden, MatHem is one of the biggest e-commerce sites for groceries. We use them for a weekly delivery, and it works great. The night before delivery we generally take 10 minutes and cram everything we can come up with into our cart, which means that we miss a lot of essentials. What if we could add umm… juice to our cart throughout the week, the moment when someone realize that we’re out of umm… juice (“sök” means search, “köp” means buy).

Image: Peder Fjallstrom

This integration is not kosher at all, and I’m probably breaking some terms and conditions. But we need this, and it could be done, so hey. If you work at MatHem or are offended by this in any way—please let me know and I’ll cease and desist.

That’s all the stuff we’ve got now, but more to come. Applying tactics from work to family life may seem cold, but I see this as a way to make the most out of our time. It’s not like we’re writing Jira stories or planning our vacation in Trello. Yet.