In the summer of this year (2019) we released /quick-map. A very simple tool that turned a text location into a map or birds-eye image inside a discussion on Slack the collaborative messaging tool. On the strength of a few tweets, we picked up a surprising number of organizations and users. This told us a simple story: maps are useful in conversation.

Of course at Sparkgeo, we’ve always known this but never put it together in a digital manner. Whenever a map is rolled out on a board-room or dining-room table, the conversation flows; ideas happen; plans are made. Why wouldn’t this also be true of collaborative messaging experiences like Slack? Certainly, the Sparkgeo team uses Slack extensively for communication, project management, task updates, questions, jokes, personal updates, instrumented application updates, continuous integration notifications. Really, any broadly useful communication update from either a person or a machine happens via Slack in our organization. And, I do not believe we are the only group behaving like this.

/quick-map was initially a proof of concept. But the latest release is so much more, it’s now genuinely useful. The user still initiates the app in a similar way, but now it is just the address string that is necessary, not the complex command string after that.

Subsequently the user is presented with a dialogue box providing options and a map preview. This means the user sees what the map will look like before it is posted. It looks, and acts like this:

quick-map gif demo

There are three main user options:

  • The top five geocoded results are available to select from,
  • The most appropriate zoom level can be determined &
  • The most appropriate map type can be chosen from a growing list of options.

This means the user is very much in control of the map creation experience.

The map is still delivered via Mapbox, meaning the previews and maps themselves are rocket fast, and come with a series of beautifully customized cartographies.

We really hope that /quick-map proves to be a useful addition to your collaboration environment. We think with this update it has moved from being a curiosity, to being a useful communication tool.

Because, sometimes a conversation needs a map, and sometimes a map starts a conversation. Either way, chatting and mapping just makes sense!

You can find /quick-map and add it to your organization’s Slack team here

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