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Outside Slack’s office in San Francisco. (BigStock Photo / David Tran)

Slack wants to make it easier to build apps and integrations on its platform, hoping to attract third-party developers as it battles Microsoft and others in the competitive market for collaboration tools.

Slack today released Block Kit, a framework of message components that make it easy to control how information is presented in a Slack integration. Slack also unveiled Block Kit Builder, a way to prototype what apps will look like in Slack and change code on the fly to quickly switch up how the tool behaves.

Slack gave several examples of the tools in action. The scheduling app Doodle built an integration that enables people to vote on a meeting time without having to jump back and forth between Slack and calendars.

A look at how building apps in Slack will change with the new Block Kit. (Slack Photo)

Slack, which is expected to go public later this year, now has more than 10 million daily active users around the globe. Slack claims 85,000 paying customers, from large companies to small shops.

There are more than 1,500 apps in Slack’s directory, and the company has integration partnerships with companies like Google, Workday, Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Atlassian. Slack says customers have created “hundreds of thousands” of custom apps and integrations.

These integrations are key as Slack looks to stand out from the pack of other collaboration apps out there. These third-party integrations are a lot like smartphone apps, or voice skills for smart speakers, and the companies that are able to lure developers on to their platforms will gain an advantage.

Perhaps Slack’s its biggest competitor is Microsoft. When the tech giant unveiled its new collaboration tool Teams, Slack took the extraordinary step of putting out an ad congratulating Microsoft and warning its new rival how tough the market can be.

The rivalry is definitely a two-way street as Microsoft added Slack as an official competitor in company documents last year.

Microsoft has been steadily adding new features to Teams, aiming to broaden its appeal beyond the white collar enterprise clients that are the tech giant’s bread and butter. Recent additions include new tools for retail and service workers and features for medical personnel.

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