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09 August, 2021

How to Make a Slack Clone: Features, Tech Stack, Cost

If you have an idea about creating a messenger app for the business area, Slack would be your first market leader to look at. So, this article covers the most prominent features of Slack and how they can inspire your product.

Mitya Smusin

Chief Executive Officer

Internal communication makes a huge part of a stable workload. Project teams, management, departments, staff: everyone in the company needs to stay updated about what is going on in their workplace. This issue has become extremely important during the past year, when most of us worked remotely. Because the market is expanding, the question “How to build a Slack clone” arises more and more often.

Why Slack? Well, because Slack is one of the most famous and widely-used tools for supporting internal communication. This messenger acquired 8 million active users and achieved a $1 billion mark in a blink of an eye. That looks like a miracle success story and no wonder some people want to repeat it.

Such an achievement may be one of a lifetime, but the market of business chat apps is not limited to Slack only. Here is our guide on how to develop a Slack-like experience and gain the audience’s spotlight.

What is a Slack messaging app?

It may come as a surprise, but Slack is actually an acronym. The full name of the app is Searchable Log of All Communication and Knowledge. Slack has become one of the most popular communications apps for business usage.

Another fun fact: Initially, this startup was an internal communication tool for video developers at Tiny Speck. The experience in game development became their competitive advantage: Creators of Slack made the app user-friendly and entertaining.

Besides one-to-one messaging, Slack offers its users the ability to create channels dedicated to certain topics, make group chats (that are not channels), conduct audio and video calls, create customized emojis, and share files.

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Why did Slack become popular?

Now, let’s dive deeper into the success story of this app.

It all started with the Glitch. Tiny Speck, the company that developed Slack, was a gaming startup with a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (or MMORPG) named Glitch. The game was released on September 27, 2011. Even though the company already managed to raise almost $16 million, the game was shot down because of the lack of audience.

After the failure in the gaming market, the team decided to give a shot at a communication app that they were using internally. This idea became the company’s ticket to success. Since the release time, the app’s audience and capitalization have grown exponentially.

Today, for the eight years of steady development, research, and updating, Slack has turned into a messaging teamwork platform that has expanded way beyond simple text messages. 600,000 teams already tested all the functionality of Slack and successfully integrated it into their workflow. Also, the app has 3 million premium users meaning people trust this company though to invest money in them.

Is it worth investing in Slack clone app development?

The short answer is yes. If we dive deep into the question, several pieces of statistical data prove that point.

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These numbers show that a Slack-like app idea has a lot of potentials to reach the target audience and stay afloat in the market.

What are the most popular Slack alternatives?

Slack may be the most fast-growing team chatting platform, but it’s definitely not the only one available for choice. Here are the most prominent Slack alternatives.

📌Microsoft Teams

This app is considered Slack’s main competitor. Microsoft Teams is targeted at the enterprise business sector. Its main advantage is Office 365 integration that makes it easier for the suite’s users to accommodate Microsoft Teams.

  • This app will be a perfect choice with certain conditions:

  • You already use Office 365You have no issue with using this application.

  • You closely work with Microsoft tools or partner with them.

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📌Chanty

If Microsoft Teams are created for huge enterprises, Chanty’s target audience is small and medium businesses. This simple chatting tool for teams doesn’t hide the previous message history and makes it all searchable. Just like in Slack, you can send messages to public or private channels and to face-to-face chats. Also, Chanty has Teambook that catalogs all of your files, links, and chats into convenient folders.

As a result, thanks to its intuitive internal task manager and overall user-friendliness, Chanty becomes a nice Slack alternative for not that tech-savvy teams.

📌Discord

This app’s presence here may come as a surprise. Initially, Discord was developed for gamers. They needed a way to communicate with each other outside the game while playing. Like Slack, Discord lets users create public and private channels as well as have interpersonal and group conversations. Another way to separate channels is by making them text or voice. Also, Discord uses the Push to Talk feature. It means that the app turns the microphone automatically to eliminate background noises and turns it back on when you press the assigned button.

But don’t forget that Discord’s main audience is still gamers. This app doesn’t have integrations with apps that you may need for your work you might use at work. Discord will be a perfect solution for you if you’re looking for a reach chat app that can be used to communicate, share files, and make audio and video calls.

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📌Ryver

Ryver is another communication app with a convenient built-in task manager. It lets users create tasks out of messages and incorporate kanban boards in their management processes.

Ryver has several Slack-like functions. For example, you can talk with your peers via public groups, private channels, and direct messages. It’s also possible to arrange an audio or video call with up to five participants.

This application is available on all platforms (iOS, macOS, Android, Windows, Web) with a monthly subscription of $49 for up to 12 users.

📌Glip

Glip was launched in 2013, the same year that Slack was. An all-in-one solution, it consists of text chats, video calling, a business calendar, and a task manager.

Actually, Glip offers more functionality than Slack does. In Glip, users can:

  • Create to-do lists and assign them to team members

  • Schedule meetings in the calendar

  • Make and organize notes

Video conferencing, however, is a bottleneck in Glip. So, for video calling it’s necessary to install the third-party RingCentral Meetings.

What are the most necessary Slack features?

We have already mentioned Slack functions briefly, now let’s talk about it in more detail.

Channels and text chats

These features form the nucleus of Slack’s functionality. This chat platform offers several ways of communication with the team members:

  • Channels

  • Group chats

  • Direct messages

The Channels section appears right beneath the general information about your profile. Channels are basically huge chatting spaces dedicated to a certain topic. There can be public channels that are visible to all team members or private that are created for particular departments or tasks. You can invite new members to it or remove them if necessary.

Under Channels, the Direct messages section is located. Here team members can privately communicate with each other via, well, direct messages. Also, they can create group chats with several participants. Group chats are not similar to channels since they cannot be public and include way fewer users.

Audio and video calls

Slack provides its users with the ability to make voice and video calls directly in the app. Visual and audio communication helps teams keep in touch and stay focused on their tasks and goals. This feature is extremely in demand nowadays when a lot of people continue working remotely.

Mentions and reactions

All users in Slack have their own ID that starts with “@.” Thanks to this feature, they can tag each other in messages if need be. The tagged person will receive a notification about being mentioned if the channel’s settings allow it.

Also, users can react to messages with emojis. Because Slack allows creating custom emojis, reactions to messages can become funny and personal. It will bond the team more and give them a boost of creativity.

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File sharing

Besides sending simple text messages, a team can share all types of files in Slack: images, videos, documents, links, and more. On a free plan, the space allowed for uploading files is limited to 5 GB. if the size of all files you uploaded starts exceeding 5 GB, Slack deletes previous files starting with the oldest. Paid plans make the uploading space limitless.

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Necessary integrations

As we already mentioned, Slack provides integrations with more than 1,500 applications that you may need for your work. Jira, Salesforce, Google Drive, Trello, Dropbox, Microsoft Teams, Outlook Calendar, HubSpot, Stripe, Figma, Zoom: The list of possible options for upgrading your Slack is enormous.

Technology stack

Now, when we know what possible features we can include in our Slack-like app, it’s time to move to the list of tools necessary for their implementation. Here is what Slack uses according to their CTO Cal Henderson:

  • Back end: PHP/Hacklang, HHVM

  • Web client: JavaScript, ES6

  • Android client: Java, Kotlin

  • iOS client: Objective-C, Swift

  • Data: MySQL

  • Caching: Memcached, MCRouter

  • Voice and video calling: Elixir

  • Host: AWS

That is the list of technologies used to build Slack. You can take a look at these tools or contact us and we provide you with a more specific tech stack suitable for your application.

How to build a Slack app step-by-step

So far, we can clearly state that a Slack-like application will make a great contribution to a company’s working process. Now, let’s look at the path you’ll take in order to create an instant messaging app.

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1. Platform

The first step toward making a Slack clone is to choose the appropriate platform. There are plenty of options to choose from, of which iOS, Android, desktop, PWA, native and cross-platform development are a few.

2. Features

Each day at least several apps are added to each of the app stores. Given the intense competition, you’ll need to enter the market with a unique competitive advantage. We’ve already mentioned the necessary features, but you and your team can come up with something that will make it extraordinary.

3. Budget

You should think about the cost for each part of your future app, including functions, design, tech stack, marketing, third-party services, and maintenance. Depending on what tools and strategy you choose to create your messenger, the possible costs will vary. Additionally, something unexpected may happen, and the best way to counteract a problem is to prepare.

4. Partner

You can have a top-notch idea that will conquer the market, but without a top-notch team, it may never see the light of the day. Choosing the right partner for working on your project is a crucial step of app development. They will guide you through the market peculiarities and help ensure a successful launch with continued maintenance.

How much does it cost to build an app like Slack?

The approximate time for a Slack clone development will be:

  • Front end: 250 hours

  • Back end: 350 hours

  • Design: 150 hours

The above-mentioned work will cost approximately $100,000 or more, depending on the specification.

Be sure to consider the maintenance costs, which include the following:

  • Updates

  • Bug fixing

  • Third-party library changes

  • Additional functionality

The cost of such maintenance for changing requirements and the introduction of new technologies will total $5,000 to $15,000.

How does Slack make money?

Generally, there are several ways for a team chat app to make money:

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  • In-app advertisements: Despite being annoying for some users, this way of making money from your app is still the most popular. For users to be less irritated, try to place ads in spaces where they will have a minimum effect on the user flow.

  • Sponsorships: This may seem like quite an unusual way for a chat app to earn money, but it may work. Basically, a sponsor pays you some money for actions inside the messaging app.

  • Subscription: Slack uses this model successfully. With a subscription model, you can implement plans and assign functions to them, thus making each plan more sophisticated.

Closing comments

We can say that Slack’s success story is something of a miracle in the tech world. It may be hard to repeat it, but a chat app for business can still find a profitable niche.

To keep your application afloat, consider all of the features and steps we’ve mentioned. The final result will receive a warm welcome from your intended audience.

Read also:

How to Build a Podcast App: The Ultimate Guide for Startups

What is Slack?

Slack is one of the most popular communication platforms for teams across the world. Besides messaging, Slack users can create channels, make group chats, arrange audio and video calls, create customized emojis and share files.

Who are its main competitors?

The main Slack competitors are Microsoft Teams, Chanty, Discord, Ryver, and Glip.

How does Slack make money?

Slack uses a subscription model with one free and two paid plans.

How much does it cost to create a Slack clone?

All the work on a Slack clone will cost approximately $100,000 or more, depending on the specification. Moreover, maintenance costs will be in the range of $5,000 to $15,000.

Tags
Slack
Software development
How-to

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