An Opportunity To Emulate Slack Buttons30 Mar 2017
Slack released their Slack Buttons last year, to help as they state "reduce the number of small yet high-frequency tasks that quietly devour a user’s time." I know folks are obsessed with voice, bot, and other conversational interfaces, but I agree with Slack, that there is a huge opportunity to help users execute common API-driven functions with a single push of a button. It is something I blog about regularly, helping folks realize the opportunity in the development of API driven, embeddable buttons, that go beyond what Slack is doing and would run anywhere on the web, in the browser, or even on mobile and other Internet connected devices.
Zapier has taken a stab at this with Push by Zapier, and they have the inventory of APIs to support it. However, what I am thinking about should be even easier, embeddable anywhere, and leverage the web technology already in use (forms, inputs, GET, POST, etc.). If in a browser it should work like bookmarklets, and if it exists within the pages of a website or application, it should work as some simple copy/paste HTML with minimum JS when necessary to avoid blockage by ad blockers and other privacy protection tooling.
I understand that it is easy to follow the pack when it comes to the latest technology trends, and I'm sure voice and bots will gain some mindshare when it comes to conversational interfaces. However, sometimes we just need the easy button for those high-frequency tasks that quietly devour our time, as Slack puts it. As I see JSON-LD embedeed into more web pages, further pleasing the Google search algorithm, there would also be more semantic opportunities for browser buttons to engage with the data and content within web pages in a more meaningful, and context aware way.
API driven buttons and similiar embeddables and browser tooling is such an interesting opportunity that I would tackle myself, but I'm so resistant to anything that might take me away from my work as the API Evangelist, which is why I'm putting it out here publicly. I will put more time into some single use button examples that might start the conversation for some, but I recommend taking a look at what Slack and Zapier have done to get started. As the pace of technology continues it's blind march forward at the request of VCs, I'm confident that there is huge opportunity for simple solutions like buttons to make a significant impact--let me know if you'd like to know more.