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Slack reveals digital canvas tool

The collaborative canvas tool adds an extra layer of productivity to the chat platform

Slack is introducing a new feature that will allow users to create and edit full documents from within the chat platform.

The Salesforce-owned business revealed Slack Canvas at the Dreamforce developer conference as part of a product update that includes further expansion of its digital HQ initiative

Along with Slack Huddles, Canvas is one of the biggest departures yet from its original form as an email-alternative chat platform. However, it makes sense from a productivity standpoint and fits in with the wider trend of software companies looking for more reasons to keep users within their platforms. 

The idea is to take documents or projects out of Slack's chat windows and move them into a more permanent but findable space. Canvases can house text or imagery, but they can also use video or social media content. It can even grab the information straight from a link and embed it automatically. And, it can also interact with third-party tools through Slack's many integrations, which presumably include Google Apps. What's more, documents in Canvas are collaborative and multiple users can work on them at the same time with all comments kept in as a separate Slack thread. 

Slack used to be seen as a competitor to Microsoft Teams, but with its new video capabilities (Slack Huddles) and now Canvas, it's moving beyond that and almost challenging the likes of Office and Workspace. This is also the case with Zoom, which is adding more and more collaboration features making it more of a productivity suite than merely video conferencing. 

"We're focused on helping our customers navigate the future of work, whether that's hybrid, remote or in the office," said Tamar Yehoshua, chief product officer, Slack. "We've been introducing capabilities like Slack Connect, clips, huddles and now canvas, that bring more value to our customers and enhance working in a digital HQ."

Canvas isn't available yet - it's still in testing - but Slack said it will be available to users sometime next year.

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